Miami has made quite a few additions to their roster this offseason and has shipped out most of their draft picks this year. It is still very early in the offseason, and we still have the draft later this month, but with the team coming together for the start of offseason workouts, I think it’s an excellent time to take a look at three key position battles to keep an eye on.
The first and most crucial position group to monitor is the right side of the offensive line, center included. You can sharpie Terron Armstead into the left tackle position, and the same goes for Connor Williams at left guard. Chris Grier spoke glowingly about Deiter and his potential to be the starting center when the season starts. However, he also stated that numerous teams have called with interest in trading for the former 3rdround draft pick. So, although I think he has a good chance of being a starter in week 1, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is dealt before the start of the season or if Miami brings in competition via free agency (JC Tretter) or in the draft. I would be shocked if Robert Hunt isn’t a starter; my only question is whether it is at guard or tackle. Last year he was the starting right guard and showed improvement throughout the season.
In contrast, he predominantly started at right tackle in his rookie year, again showing improvement throughout the season. Where he plays will depend on how the remaining candidates perform in camp. Those candidates include Austin Jackson, Liam Eichenberg, Solomon Kindley, Greg Little, and Robert Jones. Jackson and Eichenberg started most of last season and were both high draft picks, so I expect them to have a leg up on the rest of the competition. I wouldn’t rule out big Solomon Kindley yet, as he started most of his rookie year at right guard and showed flashes of great play in the run game. If Kindley shows improvement in his pass blocking, I wouldn’t mind seeing him getting the nod at guard with Hunt at tackle, leaving Jackson and Eichenberg as swing linemen ready to step in if there is an injury or poor play. Armstead and Williams drastically improved the league’s worst offensive line. However, there are still question marks on the right side that could determine whether this is a playoff team or not, so who wins this battle and how they perform will be the most significant camp storyline.
Preston Williams and Lynn Bowden Jr find themselves competing for the wide receiver four spot along with Trent Sherfield, River Cracraft, and others due to the recent trading of DeVante Parker. Sherfield and Cracraft spent last year with head coach Mike McDaniel in San Francisco, so they have the familiarity to their advantage. Still, they are probably viewed more as contributors on special teams than as players that will be counted on to contribute heavily to the offense. One would assume Lynn Bowden has the advantage here due to his speed and ability to create yards after the catch. Bowden is a terrific athlete and was counted on to play running back in college during his junior year for Kentucky, where he rushed for over 1,400 yards in the SEC. He showed flashes of his abilities his rookie year, specifically the Kansas City game where he caught seven passes for 82 yards. Unfortunately, Bowden missed the entire season last year after being placed on the IR due to a hamstring injury, although I’m not convinced there weren’t other reasons at play. Bowden’s playstyle fits the fast offense that McDaniel is building better than Williams. Bowden has become very close with Tua, with the two being attached at the hip all off-season working together. Preston Williams was the talk of training camp in 2019 and earned his way onto the roster as an undrafted free agent. He has shown signs of being a capable starter in the NFL but has had problems staying healthy, playing in only eight games each of his first three years. There was a hint of chemistry between him and Tua during Tua’s second career game at Arizona, where Williams logged four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. Still, he suffered a season-ending injury on the score and only logged 71 total yards on six catches all of last season. If Williams doesn’t have a big training camp, look for him to drop on the depth chart behind Sherfield and Cracraft and potentially be a training camp cut.
The third and final position group battle to watch is the 3rd running back on the depth chart. Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds were brought in this offseason and will likely split most of the touches. Both players have a history of injuries, so it will be essential to ensure there is quality depth at the position, especially when you consider McDaniel’s offense being run-heavy. Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, and Gerrid Doaks are the other three running backs currently on the roster. Gaskin is the incumbent starter, and one would presume he would be the likely favorite to be the fill-in behind Mostert and Edmonds. Ahmed’s speed gives him the potential for a big play whenever he touches the ball, but he has had injury issues his first two seasons. Gerrid Doaks spent last year on the practice squad and faced the possibility of being an early cut due to his low draft status (7th round) and the addition of Alec Ingold at fullback, making the need for a power back less critical. Gaskin and Ahmed were teammates in college at Washington and balance each other out well, as they have shown at times over the last two seasons. For most teams, I would be against keeping four running backs active during the season, but due to the injury concerns of the running backs on the roster and having a run-heavy offense, I wouldn’t be against that strategy.
As expected, the defense doesn’t have many position group battles, with most of the unit returning from last season. Instead, all eyes will be on head coach Mike McDaniel’s new offense and how those three battles take shape.