Dolphins Mailbag: X, the O-line, the WR battle, and More

How the Dolphins wide receiver battle will shake out, the early outlook for the offensive line are among the topics tackled
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Part 1 of the latest SI All Dolphins mailbag as the team arrives at its first break of training camp:

From Miami Dolphins Québec (@Dolphins_Quebec):

What about Liam Eichenberg? Does he look as NFL ready as expected? Does he move well?

Bonjour, MDQ. This is one of those questions where it's too early to tell because they haven't practiced in pads yet. He certainly looks big enough. I haven't noticed anything major one way or the other in terms of the way he moves. He did have a couple of false starts in first week of practice, though. But what I can tell you is this: He will get every single solitary opportunity to win a starting job as a rookie after the Dolphins gave up a 2022 third-round pick to move up in the second round this year to take him.

From Bruh. (@CheerwinePapi):

Do you think Chris Grier and Flores agree about Howard’s request for more money?

What's up, Bruh? Grier and Flores have operated as a team since Flores arrived in 2019 and I can't imagine they wouldn't be on the same page when it comes to how to deal with the Howard situation. I also would be shocked if what is happening right now with the trade request came as a major shock to either of them. They had to know this was a possibility based on the structure of Howard's extension and after they signed Byron Jones.

From Dolfandave (@dolfandave):

Do you think Kirk Merritt can emerge and make the final 53? If not is he practice squad eligible? Thanks.

Let me start by saying I really liked what I saw this week from Merritt, who most definitely looked like an NFL wide receiver in the early days of camp. That said, I just have a hard time seeing him break through to the 53 because of the depth at the position. And, yes, he is practice squad eligible as a first-year player. Actually, the new rules allow for up to six players on the practice squad with more than two accrued seasons.

From John Fiorino (@jtwin17):

Alain, what do the players do on a day like today? Can they do whatever they want? Also I can’t see them keeping more than 6 WRs on the roster. It’s early but do you see a trade happening? Great job with your articles. A must read every day. Thanks.

John, first off, thanks for the kind words. Second, love you using the phrase "on a day like today" because it's one of my favorite songs of one of my favorite bands, Keane. Anyway, can the players do whatever they want? Well, not "whatever" they want, if you catch my drift. But, yes, it is a true day off from team responsibilities, though it doesn't behoove anyone from doing anything that's going to hurt them once they get back to practice and meetings Monday. As for the second question, I absolutely could see a trade happening because they have more NFL-caliber wide receivers than roster spots for the position.

From Alex Armenteros (@Terros21):

How has Doaks looked?

I honestly didn't see Gerrid Doaks really jump out at me in the first week of camp, though I do recall he had one nice run when he showed some nice burst. Right now, the lasting image I have of him is fighting the ball as a receiver in the spring.

From Jack Dixon (@jccdixon33):

Can you talk about a day in the life of Chris Grier? Players wanting extension, agents calling, other teams calling, salary cap and free agent meetings. Player status with injury, what positions do we need to get better at? I mean, the day that dude puts in!!!

No doubt. All of the above, but also don't forget frequent conversations with Brian Flores about players on the Dolphins roster and players on other teams who get released and suddenly become available. Yeah, it's a full-time job all right.

rom jon s (@jonscala):

Who is odd man out on WR? How many do you think they keep?

I've been covering the Dolphins on a full-time basis for more than 30 years and I seem to recall that maybe once they kept as many as seven receivers on the 53. But that obviously takes away from other positions, so you're usually looking at five or six. I'd say that because of the depth we're definitely looking at six wide receivers on the 53 this year. As far as who is the odd man out, well, that depends on you consider the locks. My take right now: Waddle, Parker, Fuller, Wilson are in (though I'm not quite ready to say that Wilson is a lock) and the other front-line candidates are Preston Williams, Lynn Bowden Jr., Mack Hollins and Robert Foster, with Jakeem Grant having an outside shot.

From Stephen Goodwins (@sgoodwins):

The only concern I have about this team is the OL. How bad or how good is it??

That is a totally legitimate concern because there's an awful lot of youth on that line and a lot of uncertainty at this stage about who will line up where. How bad or how good? Here's what I'll say: It was ranked 29th in the NFL by PFF about 10 days ago, but I think it's got the potential to be a middle-of-the-pack unit based on the talent at hand. That, of course, would hinge on the second-year players making a jump and Eichenberg delivering as a rookie and we obviously won't get the answers to any of those questions until the regular season.