Written by Matthew Cannata
The Finsiders recently discussed five players who are flying under the radar for now but may very well be on their way to making an impact during the 2014 season.
Those players are defensive end Derrick Shelby, cornerback Jamar Taylor, offensive lineman Shelley Smith, linebacker Jelani Jenkins and the most surprising name on the list, defensive end Terrence Fede.
The panel believes that Shelby has the size to play a prominent role in run defense but also has the athletic ability to rush the passer. These attributes allow him to play on any down regardless of the situation, which will allow the team to rotate him in and out whenever needed. In addition, the loss of Dion Jordan for at least the first four weeks of the season will give him plenty of more opportunities.
Taylor has been the topic of many discussions in the offseason and this is the year almost everyone expects him to break out. He is healthy and has been spending a lot of time with Cortland Finnegan, soaking up as much as he can. While Taylor might not start this year, he will definitely be on the field when the opposing offense comes out in multiple receiver sets.
Smith is the wildcard on the offensive line because of his versatility. He can play center and either guard position. Smith will start somewhere on the line come week one but no one knows for sure where that will be yet. He’s been practicing the whole offseason at right guard but with the loss of Mike Pouncey for numerous weeks, he could slide over and get some reps there during training camp.
Jenkins started coming on strong at the end of last season and is best known for his coverage skills. With Philip Wheeler struggling all of last season, don’t be surprised if he beats him out during training camp for the starting position. He has the skill set to be an every down linebacker and he could be just what the linebacker corps needs.
Fede, the Dolphins seventh round pick, had a great offseason and gives the Dolphins flexibility as he can play any position on the line. With Jordan’s suspension, Fede will also see more opportunities to shine and get in the game. If nothing else, he should have some type of impact on special teams.
If the Dolphins are to be successful this year and make a run at the playoffs, these players (with maybe the exception of Fede) will need to step up and make an impact somewhere on the football field during the game. If not, the Dolphins could be in line for more close losses like they suffered last year.
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