With OTAs over with, it’s now just a waiting game until training camp starts for the Miami Dolphins. The roster is pretty much set, and there could be an addition made to the roster before training camp, and all draft picks are pretty much signed, outside of second-round pick Cam Smith. When training camp starts every year, there are certain positions, I can’t wait to see how things unfold, and this year is no different. The Dolphins have a new defensive coordinator in Vic Fangio, and he is going to run a different scheme than what has been run the last few years. The defense will be a zone-based defense rather than a blitzing defense. Some players might not fit this scheme with the change, so it will be worth watching.
The secondary is the position I’m curious about regarding how things will shake out. The Dolphins have their starting corners in Xavien Howard and Jalen Ramsey, but behind those two are younger players or players coming back from injury. The Dolphins have Nik Needham coming back from a torn Achilles tendon, and he was their nickel back the last few years. He should be back for training camp, but Achilles tendon injuries are tough to come back from. The Dolphins are going to try to have Kader Kohu work the nickel position and expand his game. Kohu was the biggest surprise last year as an undrafted rookie, and he started all 16 games on the boundary. He held his own; without his play, who knows how the Dolphins would have been. The Dolphins also have Tril Williams returning from a torn ACL last year’s preseason. He probably would have started opposite Howard had he not gotten hurt, and it will be interesting to see how he does come back from injury and fit into this new defense. The Dolphins second round Smith has the talent to become a starter eventually, but with Howard and Smith on the outside and Kohu or Needham at the nickel, he might be worked in slowly. People questioned the pick of Smith because of Howard and Ramsey, but the reality is if Smith is as talented as advertised and Howard has another down year, it’s possible Smith could be groomed for his position. However, that’s a story for another day and just speculation on my part. The Dolphins also have Keion Crossen, who played well in the secondary with injuries and played special teams. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.
The safety position is one to watch in the secondary. It appears to be open outside of Jevon Hollard at the free safety spot. The Dolphins have Brandon Jones returning, but he’s coming off a torn ACL, and there are questions if he will fit in this defense. Jones, in the previous defense would blitz at the line and is great at it, but there are questions about his coverage, and in this defense, the safeties play deep. He did a good job in coverage last year, but this is a different defense for him. Will he fit into a zone defense as opposed to the aggressive defense they played under former head coach Brian Flores and defensive coordinator Josh Boyer? He hasn’t gotten on the field yet because the team is being cautious, as they should, with him coming off the ACL injury. The Dolphins signed DeShon Elliott as a free agent to help fill the safety role. The Dolphins also have Elijah Campbell and Verone McKinley returning will be an interesting position to watch in training camp. The Dolphins could also transition some corners like Williams to safety because there has been some talk of that. You can never have enough players in the secondary, with today’s game being a passing league.
The backup quarterback position is also one to watch because of Tua Tagovailoa’s injury history. The Dolphins signed Mike White away from the New York Jets, and he played well to keep the Jets in the playoff hunt last year until he got hurt. However, White has been hot and cold when he gets the chance. In 2021, he threw for three touchdowns in one game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and then two games later threw four interceptions against the Buffalo Bills. Last year he threw three touchdown passes against the Chicago Bears and did provide a spark, but his play faded, and he barely completed 50% of his passes and threw two interceptions against the Seattle Seahawks. In his defense, he was hurt in the Seahawks game, but he’s hot and cold as a quarterback. The Dolphins have had Jacoby Brissett and Teddy Bridgewater for the last couple of years, and neither was inspiring. Brissett was tough to watch, and Bridgewater, many would take over as the starter, was hurt in games or inconsistent. White could be the same as both, and he hasn’t done too well in OTAs, but let’s see what happens when the pads come on. I’m intrigued to see Skylar Thompson in his second year. He played well in the preseason last year. He didn’t play great when he got the chance to play, but the game wasn’t too big for him. I think he played well in the playoff game, and if his receivers didn’t drop the ball, the game could have been a different outcome. I want to see if he takes a step in his development and if he takes the reigns as the number two quarterback. I know White got the contract, but that shouldn’t matter. It should come down to who has the better training camp and preseason.
The other area that should be interesting is the backup wide receiver position. Last year the Dolphins didn’t really have a true number 3 receiver. Trent Sherfield stepped up, but he left in free agency. Cedric Wilson was a disappointment last year after being picked up in free agency by the Dallas Cowboys. Maybe he will perform better after another year in the offense, or the Dolphins will look to trade because they can’t release him as they will take a hit against the cap. I’m really intrigued by Braxton Berrios and Chosen Anderson. At the very least, Berrios will bring an added dimension as a punt returner. The Dolphins didn’t have a punt returner last, but Berrios can be more than that. He plays well in the slot and can make plays. Anderson is tall at 6’3″ and fast. He is a talented receiver who will give the Dolphins more size and can also play on the outside. He started his career with the New York Jets and burned us a few times, but for whatever reason hasn’t been consistent. Maybe quarterback issues or the situation of the teams he was on. Last year he was in his second year with the Carolina Panthers, but they fired their head coach during the season, and he got traded to the Arizona Cardinals, and it didn’t work out, to say the least. He’s a talented receiver that can help the Dolphins if used properly. Then there is second-year receiver Erik Ezukanma, who was great in training camp and in the preseason last year but didn’t get the opportunities in the regular season. How he develops and fits in will be interesting. The Dolphins need depth at the wide receiver position in case something happens to Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle.
Training camp is almost here. There is a lot of excitement for the Dolphins, and for good reason, after making the playoffs last year. They improved in a lot of areas of the roster, and these position battles are one of many things to watch this summer.