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'Unofficial' depth chart has strengths, raises questions

Look at the Miami Dolphins depth chart below. It is copied straight from the Dolphins website and although it is clearly not the "official" depth chart the team might put out by Monday or Tuesday, it nonetheless has it good points and also raises questions.

As you look at the depth chart notice the areas where there is a richness of backups and areas where there are practically no backups.

The WR position and DE position enjoy the luxury of multiple backups -- so much so that it's doubtful all those backups will be active every game day.

The OT spot is currently a question mark when it comes to backups. It actually is also a question mark when it comes to the starting RT but that's another question for another day. Is Nate Garner ready to be the backup at both LT and RT? The man has never played LT in a regular season game. Yes, he's played some in practice and in preseason, but I assume the Dolphins know the regular season is a whole different game played at a much faster speed.

The backup left tackle hasn't been a worry until now because Jake Long has been a workhorse over there. But Long played injured all of last season and missed the this entire preseason as he was having a knee/leg injury nursed along. 

Now look at the running back and fullback position. Reggie Bush is the starter and that's very good. The Dolphins believe they have upgraded at that spot from a year ago. Bush is experienced, he's been in big games, he's accomplished things in the NFL.

But everyone behind him and everyone at fullback is a question mark. Backup Daniel Thomas is a rookie who had an average first camp at best. Third-string running back Lex Hilliard is in his fourth season but similarly has had little regular-season experience. He didn't carry the ball at all in 2008, didn't carry the ball at all in 2010, and had all of 23 carries in 2009. That's it.

Hilliard is also the backup fullback. He backs up rookie Charles Clay who is a fullback like I'm a Pulitzer Prize winner. Clay is a hybrid. He's an H-back. Tell me you want to use him like Indianapolis uses Dallas Clark or Washington used Chris Cooley. But a conventional fullback? The Dolphins waived that guy. His name is Lou Polite.

Speaking of tight ends: The Dolphins really like Anthony Fasano. And I get it, he's a very solid blocker and a smart player. But his inconsistent hands make him only a C-plus tight end. And behind him Jeron Mastrud is a puppy. Oh, he's a brilliant puppy, having graduated cum laude with a degree in business administration from Kansas State, but he's a puppy nonetheless.

So the only tight end with any significant NFL experience on the Dolphins is Anthony Fasano. A C-plus player. Sorry, but unless Clay turns into a beast and quickly, the front office has to look in the mirror and ask why it didn't do more to upgrade the TE position.

On the positive side, I do really like the makeup of Miami's receivers assuming each fills the role meant for him. And I really love the defensive line. The Dolphins are right up there with Pittsburgh as boasting the NFL's better 3-4 defensive lines.

Finally, there's the free safety spot. Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones engaged in a well chronicled competition for the starting job and, clearly, neither distinguished himself or separated himself significantly from the other. Considering the Dolphins eagerly want their free safety to be a big playmaker, that's not good news. Perhaps the regular season will tell another tale. We'll see on that.

This much is certain about free safety: It will not include Brandon Meriweather. He agreed to a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears this morning, according to ESPN.

Anyway, the "unofficial" depth chart as it is currently constituted. The team has Davone Bess first on kickoff returns ahead of Clyde Gates. I put Gates ahead of Bess on this depth chart. I have that power:


POS         STARTER                               2nd                              3rd                                 

WR                 19 Brandon Marshall                 15 Davone Bess                 18 Roberto Wallace

LT                 77 Jake Long                                                                                        

LG                 68 Richie Incognito                 69 Ray Feinga

C                 51 Mike Pouncey                 67 Joe Berger

RG                 72 Vernon Carey                 74 John Jerry

RT                 71 Marc Colombo                 75 Nate Garner

TE                 80 Anthony Fasano                 88 Jeron Mastrud

WR                 82 Brian Hartline                 10 Clyde Gates                 14 Marlon Moore

QB                   7 Chad Henne                   8 Matt Moore

RB                 22 Reggie Bush                 33 Daniel Thomas                 26 Lex Hiliard

FB                 31 Charles Clay


POS         STARTER                            2nd                     3rd        

LE                 70 Kendall Langford                 78 Tony McDaniel                 90 Ryan Baker

NT                 96 Paul Soliai                 66 Frank Kearse

RE                 94 Randy Starks                 97 Phillip Merling                 98 Jared Odrick

SLB                 55 Koa Misi                 99 Jason Taylor                 59 Ikaika Alama-Francis

ILB                 58 Karlos Dansby                 53 Austin Spitler                 52 Marvin Mitchell

LB                 47 Kevin Burnett                 50 A.J. Edds

WLB                 91 Cameron Wake                 46 Jason Trusnik

LCB                 24 Sean Smith                 27 Benny Sapp

RCB                 21 Vontae Davis                 28 Nolan Carroll                 35 Jimmy Wilson

SS                 37 Yeremiah Bell                 29 Tyrone Culver

FS                  30 Chris Clemons                 20 Reshad Jones


POS         STARTER                            2nd         

P                   2 Brandon Fields

H                    5 Dan Carpenter

H                   2 Brandon Fields

KR                           10 Clyde Gates  15 Davone Bess

PR                 15 Davone Bess                 10 Clyde Gates

LS                 92 John Denney