As the Miami Dolphins prepare for the start of training camp, we break down every position with a look back at what happened in the offseason, what to watch in the summer and what might happen in the regular season.
We continue the series with the defensive line.
ON THE ROSTER
• DE Jonathan Ledbetter — Second year out of Georgia; entered the NFL in 2019 as an undrafted free agent
• DE Emmanuel Ogbah — Sixth year out of Oklahoma State; entered the NFL in 2016 as a second-round pick of the Cleveland Browns
• DE Tyshun Render — First-year player out of Middle Tennessee State; entered the NFL in 2020 as an undrafted free agent
• DE Jason Strowbridge — Second year out of North Carolina; entered the NFL in 2020 as a fifth-round pick
• DL Adam Butler — Fifth year out of Vanderbilt; entered the NFL in 2017 as an undrafted free agent
• DT Raekwon Davis — Second year out of Alabama; entered the NFL in 2020 as a second-round pick
• DT John Jenkins — Ninth year out of Georgia; entered the NFL in 2013 as a third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints
• DT Jerome Johnson — Rookie out of Indiana; entered the NFL in 2021 as an undrafted free agent
• DT Benito Jones — Second year out of Mississippi; entered the NFL in 2020 as an undrafted free agent
• DT Zach Sieler — Fourth year out of Ferris State; entered the NFL in 2018 as a seventh-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens
• DT Christian Wilkins — Third year out of Clemson; entered the NFL in 2019 as a first-round pick (13th overall)
Jan. 5— DE Nick Coe and Render signed to futures contracts
March 15 — DT Davon Godchaux became an unrestricted free agent
March 19 — Signed Butler as an unrestricted free agent from the New England Patriots
April 2 — Signed Jenkins as an unrestricted free agent from the Chicago Bears
May 13 — Signed Johnson as an undrafted free agent
Sieler: 8 starts, 48 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss
Wilkins: 12 starts, 47 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss
Ogbah: 12 starts, 42 tackles, 9 sacks, 6 tackles for loss
Davis: 12 starts, 40 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
Godchaux: 5 starts, 16 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
What will stand out about the production of the defensive line last season clearly will be Ogbah's pass-rushing numbers, though we shouldn't be surprised that nobody else produced big sack numbers because that's difficult to do for a team that plays with three down linemen as much. The big guys up front had their struggles against the run at times, with the Dolphins allowed 4.5 yards per rushing attempt. Raekwon Davis played well enough to earn PFWA All-Rookie honors.
Because Jaelan Phillips is being listed as a linebacker, we're not counting him here and the biggest news up front on defense was the swap of Davon Godchaux for Adam Butler, with the Dolphins getting a better pass rusher at the cost of maybe giving up something against the run. In that vein, though, the signing of veteran John Jenkins was an under-the-radar move that could pay big dividends in 2021.
THE TOP SUMMER STORYLINES
This is not a very eventful position, if that makes any sense, because the roster seems pretty set along the defensive line. One thing to watch is whether the Dolphins decide to give Ogbah a contract extension this summe. Besides that, it will be interesting to see what kind of steps 2020 fifth-round pick Jason Strowbridge can take.
LONG SHOT TO WATCH
This one is pretty easy, and it's Jonathan Ledbetter, who's back after missing the past two seasons with significant injuries after starting the 2019 opener as a rookie free agent. Ledbetter showed something in his rookie training camp and it'll be interesting to see if he can pick up where he left off after missing so much time.
THE KEY SUMMER BATTLE
Because the Dolphins figure to rotate the big guys up front, the key battles in camp come down to who will make the 53-man roster. Wilkins, Davis, Ogbah, Butler and Sieler would seem to look like locks, which makes for one massive free-for-all for the last one or two spots.
BETTER OR WORSE THAN THIS TIME LAST YEAR
It's pretty much the same group as last year, but it says here that Jenkins is a better run stopper than Godchaux and the addition of Butler adds a pass-rushing element. So the Dolphins look clearly on the defense as opposed to this time last year.
PROJECTED OPENING-DAY STARTERS
As mentioned before, it's not a huge deal who ends up starting because there will be a rotation in play here, but the best guess for the opener at New England would be Jenkins at the nose with Wilkins and Davis on either side and Ogbah lined up on the edge.
Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @PoupartNFL. Feel free to submit questions every Friday for the All Dolphins mailbag.