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Dolphins Defense Status, Camp Preview and Early Roster Projections

The Miami Dolphins defense will head to training camp with a lot of familiar faces and very few significant question marks

While the Miami Dolphins brought in a lot of new faces on offense since the end of last season, the bulk of the work on defense was 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, a list highlighted by edge defender Melvin Ingram.

Here's an early look at the Dolphins roster at each defensive position as far as what the training camp battles might look like.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

On the roster: DE Emmanuel Ogbah, DL Adam Butler, DT Raekwon Davis, DT John Jenkins, DT Benito Jones, DT Zach Sieler, DT Christian Wilkins, DL Ben Stille, DE Jordan Williams

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.

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.

Early roster projection: If any of the young players can break through and bump one of the veterans off the 53-man roster, it's probably Jones, who does have NFL game experience.

EDGE DEFENDERS

On the roster: Darius Hodge, Jaelan Phillips, Brennan Scarlett, Andrew Van Ginkel, Cameron Goode, Porter Gustin, Melvin Ingram III, Deandre Johnson,

Analysis: We're separating edge defenders from off-the-field linebackers for this story, even though there's obviously some overlap involved. The big move here clearly was the addition of Ingram, the three-time Pro Bowl selection and former Chargers first-round pick. 

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Biggest question mark: Phillips set a Dolphins rookie record with 8.5 sacks last season, most of which came in the second half of the season. What kind of jump Phillips is able to make in his second NFL season will be something to watch, and it'll start in training camp.

Early roster projections: Phillips, Van Ginkel and Ingram are the obvious givens here, and the question is whether Scarlett will hold off Goode, the rookie seventh-round pick, or Gustin, the newcomer with previous NFL experience with the Browns. Scarlett's special teams experience likely will make the difference here.

LINEBACKERS

On the roster: Jerome Baker, Sam Eguavoen, Calvin Munson, Duke Riley, Elandon Roberts, Channing Tindall

Analysis: This group of linebackers remarkably includes three players who were brought back as free agents in the offseason — Eguavoen, Riley and Roberts. Of those, Roberts was the one who saw the most action in 2021 as a starter and contributor on early downs. Tindall will bring some speed to the position, though how much he can contribute as a rookie remains to be seen.

Biggest question mark: There are two things that stand out here, one being whether any of the off-the-ball linebackers can emerge as a true difference-maker, the other being whether Tindall can make an impact on defense as a rookie.

Early roster projections: Based on past contributions, it's tough to see this playing out any way other than Baker, Riley, Roberts and Tindall being on the 53-man roster.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

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, CB Elijah Hamilton, CB Kader Kohou, S Verone McKinley III

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.

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.

Early roster projections: At this stage, the players who look like locks include Howard, Byron Jones, Needham, Holland, Crossen and Brandon Jones, with Igbinoghene and Rowe looking like near-locks. That would leave one or two spots open to the 53-man roster, and at this spot we'd lean toward Fejedelem and Campbell as the final two.