Post-Draft Depth Chart: How the Defense Stacks Up

The Dolphins will have a lot of new faces on defense in 2020, including draft choices and veteran free agents
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When they hit the field for the start of the 2020 regular (when/if that happens), the Miami Dolphin will have a drastically different look than they did in 2019 when they rebuilt with a large of collection of young players and set a record for most players used in a season.

Here's a look at how the Dolphins defense, not including rookie free agents, and how the team might line up at the start of the regular season.

DEFENSIVE LINE

On the roster (5): Davon Godchaux, Zach Sieler, Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis

Projected opening-day starters: Davon Godchaux, Christian Wilkins

Breakdown: When we talk about the Dolphins defense, the traditional defensive end and defensive tackle designations don't really apply here because of all the formations they employ. It's more accurate to go with pure defensive linemen, edge defenders and off-the-ball linebackers. In that context, it's clear that Godchaux and Wilkins will start, though exactly where Godchaux lines up remains to be seen. He did some nose tackle work last season, though his better is better suited for the 3-technique (lined up outside the guard). If Raekwon Davis shows he's ready to start as a rookie at nose tackle, then that's where Godchaux would line up.

EDGE DEFENDERS

On the roster (11): Taco Charlton, Charles Harris, Shaq Lawson, Avery Moss, Emmanuel Ogbah, Curtis Weaver, Vince Biegel, Kyle Van Noy, Andrew Van Ginkel, Trent Harris, Calvin Munson

Projected opening-day starters: Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson

Breakdown: Van Noy was one of the prized free agent pick-ups for the Dolphins and it's almost a lock he'll be in the starting lineup. There should, however, be an awful lot of competition for the starting job and playing time on the other side. This could be a last chance for Harris, the 2017 first-round pick, and Charlton also isn't assured of a roster spot after he got off to a fast start with the Dolphins last September. Van Ginkel had some impressive outings late last season after he spent most of the season on IR and the 2019 fifth-round pick is definitely someone worth watching.

LINEBACKER

On the roster (6): Jerome Baker, James Crawford, Sam Eguavoen, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Raekwon McMillan, Elandon Roberts

Projected opening-day starters: Jerome Baker, Raekwon McMillan

Breakdown: Raekwon McMillan made big strides last season after his 2017 rookie injury and an up-and-down 2018 spent trying to get back to form, but he'll have to hold off Elandon Roberts for a starting job, though both figure to get a lot of playing time. The Dolphins will be looking for Baker to take another step forward in his development.

CORNERBACK

On the roster (10): Tae Hayes, Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Ryan Lewis, Nik Needham, Jamal Perry, Cordrea Tankersley, Ken Webster, Nate Brooks, Noah Igbinoghene

Projected opening-day starters: Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Noah Igbinoghene (slot)

Breakdown: The Dolphins really focused on this area this offseason, first by making Byron Jones the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL and then by selecting Auburn's Noah Igbinoghene with their third of three first-round pick. Igbinoghene will have to beat out both Jamal Perry (who was Jomal Wiltz last season) and Bobby McCain for the nickel corner job assuming the Dolphins decide to move McCain back from safety. One thing to watch at his position is whether Cordrea Tankersley can make the roster after starting 11 games as a rookie third-round pick in 2017 but then being relegated to backup duty before being sidelined the past year and a half by knee trouble.

SAFETY

On the roster (7): Eric Rowe, Bobby McCain, Clayton Fejedelem, Steven Parker, Adrian Colbert, Kavon Frazier, Brandon Jones

Projected opening-day starters: Eric Rowe, Adrian Colbert

Breakdown: Eric Rowe really made an impression at safety last season after he was moved following a slow start at cornerback and that earned him a three-year contract extension. He should be set at one spot, but the other safety spot looks to be wide open. Bobby McCain moved there from cornerback last offseason but had an up-and-down season, and he figures to get a strong challenge for that starting job from either 2019 midseason pick-up Adrian Colbert or rookie third-round pick Brandon Jones. That figures to be one of the most hotly contested starting battles of training camp.