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The buzz among Dolphins fans over the past month or so has been one of excitement and optimism, and understandably so considering the wealth of talent that was added to the team on the offensive side of the ball. So today I’m going to present a rather sobering view on where the roster currently stands by considering what I consider to be some of the biggest concerns. (I will then follow this up next week with a “glass half-full” view, so don’t dismiss me as all gloom and doom just yet.)

Both offensive tackle spots.

“Both?!” you say? “Didn’t you notice that Miami signed Terron FREAKIN’ ARMSTEAD?” Yes, I did. And he’s a top 5 left tackle in the NFL when he’s on the field. Therein lies the rub. Armstead has missed 38 games over the past 8 seasons (I didn’t include his rookie season). That means he averages missing 4+ games a year. Who do we have behind him? The same guys who played so badly last year that it was really hard to watch. If (and when) he has to miss a few games, do any of us feel good about trotting Austin Jackson back out there? As for RT, unless there are other moves made, it seems to be a competition between the aforementioned Jackson and Liam Eichenberg. The hope is that with better coaching and scheme design they can develop into serviceable tackles, but there’s no actual evidence to give me any confidence that this plan will work out.

Depth at cornerback.

Our defensive scheme relies on having 2 quality boundary cornerbacks that can effectively lock down the outside targets and force the opposing QB to attack elsewhere, which also provides time for the pass rush to arrive. However, if either Xavien Howard or Byron Jones misses extensive time, who fills in? Noah Igbinoghene? While Nik Needham has been very good in the nickel role, he’s not the same kind of player in terms of his physical skill set.

Lack of playmakers at Linebacker.

I like Jerome Baker as a player. He’s the best LB on the team and has developed nicely. Andrew Van Ginkle has been a nice player and provided some jazz at times from a pass rush standpoint. But the reality is this team doesn’t have a true stud at linebacker. Maybe the scheme doesn’t need one. But it sure would be nice to have a player that struck fear into the hearts of opposing offensive coordinators. Outside of Baker, we seem to have a collection of solid role players.

There may be good arguments for other positions to be put on this list over some of my choices, (the Tua-doubters are frothing at the mouth) but honestly, I am less concerned about the play of our QB and even center positions than I am the above. Time will tell!

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