The Miami Dolphins made several moves this offseason to climb out of the AFC East basement. While the Buffalo Bills won’t face Miami for the first time until October 23rd, we got some intel on the Dolphins offseason from The Phinsider.
Notable free agent additions: DE Mario Williams, DE Andre Branch, S Isa Abdul-Quddus
Notable free agent departures: RB Lamar Miller, DE Olivier Vernon, DE Derrick Shelby, CB Brent Grimes, S Louis Delmas, WR Rishard Matthews
Trades: CB Byron Maxwell (Eagles), LB Kiko Alonso (Eagles)
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
1st Round OT Laremy Tunsil - Expected to start at left guard for the time being
2nd Round: Cornerback Xavien Howard - in a position battle with Tony Lippett for the second starting cornerback spot
3rd Round: Running back Kenyan Drake - expected to be the second-string running back and see carries in a platoon system with Jay Ajayi
3rd Round: Wide receiver Leonte Carroo - most likely the fourth wide receiver on the team, should see playing time but may be stuck behind Kenny Stills for the third WR spot
6th Round: Wide receiver Jakeem Grant - likely will be the primary kick returner, could see punt return duties as well, and will likely see some offensive plays to utilize his speed as a mismatch
Biggest offseason addition: Adam Gase, head coach - Miami fired Joe Philbin a quarter of the way into the 2015 season, then hired former Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase to be their head coach this year. Gase will look to bring the success he has had working with quarterbacks, including Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, and Jay Cutler, to Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins have been in a decade of mediocrity, and it will now be Gase’s responsibility to finally end that.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Will Ryan Tannehill finally provide an answer to who he is as a quarterback? The team is giving him the freedom he did not have under Joe Philbin, they are reloading the offensive weapons with younger players who should fit the scheme well, and they are working to get the offensive line puzzle finally solved. This should be the year Tannehill can step up and prove he is a franchise quarterback.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: Can the defensive line pressure the quarterback? Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, Ndamukong Suh, Andre Branch. Each of those names comes with high expectations of success, either from past NFL experiences, or based on potential, and each of those names has question marks surrounding him. Wake is coming off an Achilles tear and is 34 years old. Williams had a miserable season last year with the Buffalo Bills, but was also playing out of position as a linebacker rather than a 4-3 defensive end. Suh played well last year, but many were frustrated that he was not the dominant player his contract seemed to suggest he would be for the Dolphins, and he did not make the Pro Bowl - a chip that is sure to be on his shoulder this year. Branch never materialized into the pass rusher the Jacksonville Jaguars hoped he would be, and now Miami will try to find that in him as a replacement for Derrick Shelby as the third defensive end. Everything in the offseason seems to say these pieces will come together and the Dolphins defensive line will be dominant - but they looked like that last year, and we have not seen them this year in pads.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: DE Cameron Wake (Achilles tear recovery); RB Kenyan Drake (hamstring strain); WR DeVante Parker (not disclosed); OL Mike Pouncey (offseason hip surgery recovery)