In 2019 the Miami Dolphins had 58 different players that were listed as starters for at least one game and played the majority of snaps in those games. A few of those players only started 1-2 games but most over 5 games. Of the 58 only 16 were starters for 10 or more games. (and three of those 16 were the P, PK, & LS) So as you can see there was a lot of shuffling around for the Miami Dolphins roster and playing time. 16 of those players are no longer currently on the team. However, through free agency and the draft they added 16 players that will likely either be starters or strong challengers early on. Today I am going to break down each of the Miami Dolphins offensive position battles for 2020. Who is the likely starter, who is the likeliest to give them a run for their money, and who can be written down in pen as a starter.
We’ll start with the position group that is going to see the most “new faces” which is the Offensive Line.
LT – 2019 starter: Julién Davenport & J’Marcus Webb. 2020 projected starter: Austin Jackson
Unless Jackson has some unforeseen setback and is completely unready to start in the NFL in 2020 he will be your week 1 starting LT. Last season Davenport surrendered 6 sacks in just 8 games played and Webb & sacks in the same amount of games. Heading into 2020 Webb is gone and if it wasn’t for such a lack of depth at this position, I would expect Davenport to be gone as well. However, even with the lack of depth, he isn’t a lock to make the roster. The Dolphins could opt to go into the season with Flowers & Davis as the “backups” if the team determines they want that roster spot for another position.
LG – 2019 starter: Michael Deiter. 2020 projected starter: Ereck Flowers
In 2019 Deiter started all but one game. While Deiter’s play was not as bad as Davenport’s or Webb’s (and likely dragged down by their performances alongside him) he still gave up 6 sacks. Coming out of college he was highly graded as both a run blocker & pass blocker. The Dolphins 2019 running backs will tell you otherwise. While Deiter seemed to have potential still his days as the Dolphins starting LG are over. Ereck Flowers had a very productive year for the Redskins having moved to LG and with a 3 year $30M contract it would seem the Dolphins are handing him the position.
C – 2019 starter: Daniel Kilgore. 2020 starter Ted Karras
Kilgore was supposed to be the anchor along that Dolphins line last season, and while he received high praise from GM Chris Grier during the Senior Bowl week, he didn’t quite live up to the expectations of Miami’s plans for the future. That and given the fact he is well over the 30 hump and has only played a full 16 game season three times since coming into the league in 2011 (none coming in his 2 seasons in Miami) it was time to move on and so Miami released him. Ted Karras, who looked very impressive filling in last season in NE, was only a handed a one-year “prove-it” deal. If Deiter, or any of the young interior linemen, were going to make a push for an opportunity to start this would be the position where they would most likely get a chance. I expect though this one to be one by Kerras and him be handed an extension before midway of the season.
RG/RT – 2019 starters: Shaq Calhoun & Evan Boehm at RG and Jesse Davis at RT
2020 starters: RG Robert Hunt. RT Jesse Davis
I put these two positions together because many people believe that Davis & Hunt will be battling for RT and the loser will take RG. Davis & Hunt both have experience at the two positions and, while Hunt was projected to slide inside by most draft experts and analysts, they will each be able to more than hold their own whichever spot they end up in. I personally believe Hunt will start this season at RG and Davis at RT for the simple reason that he is rookie and allowing him to start a year in between Karras & Davis will be huge for his development. Much like the Dolphins did with Tunsil his rookie season starting at LG while they let the more experienced Albert start at LT. There may be some competition for RT this offseason but I believe the real battle for the position will take place in 2021.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) June 28, 2020
Next up we have the Running Backs
2019 “starters” were: Drake, Ballage, Walton, & Laird. 2020 starters will be Howard & Breida
I put starters in quotations because while each of the four players above was technically the starter for different games it was very much backs by committee. Its how NE has done it for years, and while there wasn’t much success in Miami with it last year, its what Miami will continue doing in 2020. I believe the feature two backs will be Howards & Breida with Howard getting the slight nod. Ballage should get his fair chance to show he deserves a role in the backfield rotation, I just don’t have faith in him that he will produce enough to earn himself a prominent role. Gaskin, Laird, and Perry all have the potential to be contributors this coming season with, in my opinion, Perry being the dark horse candidate to steal some major touches. He may be undersized and only played at Navy but he still put up 2,017 rushing yards and 21 TDs while also being the starting QB and lining up as a WR occasionally as well. In 2017 & 2018 he rushed for over 1,000 yds each year as well.
FB – 2019 starter: Chandler Cox. 2020: None
I may end up flat on my face here but I believe that in 2020 the Dolphins will not carry an official FB on their roster. Cox played well enough last season that it would be very tempting to want to keep him around, however with Flores’ love for having tons of DBs they may find that Cox’s roster spot would be better severed going to someone of a different position. And with Christian Wilkins and newcomer Elandon Roberts, both showing they are more than capable of playing FB Cox suddenly becomes easily expendable. Roberts lined up for the Patriots as a FB week 17 against your Miami Dolphins and had a 38 yard TD reception. Wilkins got his TD also lining up as a FB in week 16 against the Bengals on a 1 yd one-handed TD grab! He also has a bit of experience lining up at FB while he was at Clemson.
TE – 2019 starters: Gesicki & Smythe. 2020 starters: Gesicki & Smythe
Short & sweet Gesicki – Gesicki had a nice semi-breakout year in 2019 as a pass-catching TE with no real challengers added in the offseason I’d say its safe to etch him in stone as the 2020 starter. He needs to carry over his 2019 production into 2020 if he wants to keep Miami from bringing in serious competition in the future. Smythe had a pretty solid campaign as well as a blocking TE, I see him easily remaining in the Dolphins top blocking TE heading into 2020.
WR – 2019 starters: Parker, Williams, & Hurns. 2020 starters: Parker, Williams, & Wilson.
2019 was a big year for our wide receivers. Parker finally had his break out season and showed the world that he is ready to stake his name among the best at the position in the league. But it wasn’t just Parker who had a big year at WR. Preston Williams was one of the league leaders amongst rookie WRs in receptions, yds, & TDs through his first 8 games before tearing his ACL. His production was greatly overshadowed however by the Dolphins 0-7 start to the season. Parker and Williams have the potential to be one of the top WR duos in 2020. Parker is written in pen as WR1, if Williams’s knee is fully healed up he’ll open the season as Miami’s WR2. Look for Kirk Merritt to push Williams. I don’t expect Merritt to overtake him but being one of the most explosive and athletic WRs in this rookie class (winner of Nike’s SPARQ championship in 2014) should make for a fun position battle to watch during training camp. Wilson’s path to the starting slot WR won’t be so easy. The Dolphins’ wide receiver room is one of the deepest on the team. Guys like Grant, Hurns, Ford, & Jennings are going to be fighting for limited roster spots. Wilson showed in 2018 he has great potential to be a very productive WR though he has been hampered by several injuries. Towards the end of the 2019 season, he seemed to be back to his former, healthy, productive self. If Wilson has any more setbacks he could be in danger of not only losing his starting position but potentially his roster spot as well.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) June 28, 2020
Finally, we get to Quarterbacks.
2019 starters: Fitzpatrick & Rosen. 2020 starters: Fitzpatrick and Tua
In 2019 neither Fitzpatrick nor Rosen played well at the start of the season. In the 3 games, Rosen showed he was not ready for the NFL and struggled mightily to read opposing defenses. Once Fitzpatrick took back over the team began turning things around finishing the season on a 5-4 record. There is much debate over whether Tua will be Miami’s week 1 starter, or if he will start later in the season, or if at all in 2020. If Flores decides not to have Tua sit and wait until later in the season then I don’t expect there to be any competition at all here. If Flores decides to have Tua sit and wait until say after Thanksgiving, as I expect, then Rosen will have the opportunity to challenge Fitzpatrick once again for the starting quarterback role.