While the Miami Dolphins have brought in a lot of new faces on offense since the end of last season, the bulk of the work on defense has been retaining pretty much all of the key pieces who were set to become free agents along with restructuring some contracts.
The Dolphins picked two defensive players among their four selections in the 2022 NFL draft — linebackers Channing Tindall in the third round and Cameron Goode in the seventh round — and they joined the group of returning players and the handful of veteran additions.
While a lot can — and usually does — happen until the final days of July, here's an early look at the Dolphins roster at each defensive position as far as what the training camp battles might look like.
On the roster: DE Daeshon Hall, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, DL Adam Butler, DT Raekwon Davis, DT John Jenkins, DT Benito Jones, DT Zach Sieler, DT Christian Wilkins
Analysis: This is going to be a theme pretty much everywhere on defense, but the Dolphins worked very hard to keep the status quo up front and the biggest move clearly was the ability to re-sign Emmanuel Ogbah before the free agent window was set to open March 14. The Dolphins got strong production particularly from Ogbah, Sieler and Wilkins last season and the hope is that they can continue to deliver.
Unfinished business: The discussions with the agent of veteran Akiem Hicks suggest the Dolphins still wouldn't mind adding a presence in the middle of the defensive line, somebody who could help solidify the run defense.
Biggest question mark: In terms of the 53-man roster, there might not be much suspense if this ends up being the group that goes to training camp because Ogbah, Butler, Davis, Jenkins, Sieler and Wilkins would seem like the logical six. In that sense, maybe the biggest question is whether any of those six can produce a Pro Bowl-caliber season.
On the roster: Jerome Baker, Sam Eguavoen, Darius Hodge, Calvin Munson, Jaelan Phillips, Duke Riley, Elandon Roberts, Brennan Scarlett, Channing Tindall, Andrew Van Ginkel, Cameron Goode
Analysis: This group of 11 linebackers remarkably includes four players who were brought in as free agents in the offseason — Eguavoen, Riley, Roberts and Scarlett. Of those, Roberts was the one who saw the most action in 2021 as a starter and contributor on early downs. Tindall and Goode will bring some speed to the position, though how much they can contribute as rookies (particularly Goode) remains to be seen.
Unfinished business: The Dolphins have all of their starters back from 2021 and they also brought back pretty much all of their backups, so they technically could head to training camp with this same group. The question is whether the Dolphins are good enough at this spot or need to make every effort to find an upgrade if they can.
Biggest question mark: The need for an upgrade might not be there if Phillips can take a big step in his second season and become a dominant player — yes, more dominant than he was in 2021 when he set the franchise rookie record with 8.5 sacks.
On the roster: CB Javaris Davis, CB Xavien Howard, CB Noah Igbinoghene, CB Byron Jones, CB Nik Needham, CB Trill Williams, DB Elijah Campbell, DB Keion Crossen, DB D'Angelo Ross, DB Quincy Wilson, S Clayton Fejedelem, S Jevon Holland, S Brandon Jones, S Sheldrick Redwine, S Eric Rowe
Analysis: As with everywhere else on defense, the Dolphins pretty much just maintained here because the one free agent acquisition, Keion Crossen, is a special teams specialist. This, however, is a very talented group with an elite corner, a star-in-the-making safety and a certain amount of depth. It remains the best position on the roster.
Unfinished business: If we're going to get picky about things, it would be that the Dolphins lost their fourth cornerback from a year ago, Justin Coleman, via free agency and haven't really replaced him. It's not going to be an issue as long as everybody stays healthy, but depth could become a concern at cornerback with just one injury.
Biggest question mark: Similar to linebacker, maybe the biggest unknown heading into 2022 is just how good Jevon Holland can become at safety. The signs were all there during his rookie season that he's destined for greatness, but he still has to do it and we don't know exactly how long it's going to take.