Miami Dolphins
Jay Ajayi helped the Dolphins catepault to a 10-6 record in 2016. What’s next for Miami heading into training camp. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

The Miami Dolphins really took a step forward as a franchise posting a 10-6 record in 2016. Part of the reason was a huge culture change brought in by Adam Gase who did a heck of a job coaching in year one. Ryan Tannehill will never be a franchise quarterback but even he was at least capable enough to win a generous number of games. Heading into 2017 what is the outlook for the Miami Dolphins?

3 Position Battles To Watch:

  1. Defensive End: William Haynes, Andre Branch, Charles Harris, Terrence Fede

Cameron Wake is locked in on side but the other appears to be up for grabs. Well, at least to start the season anyway. First round pick Charles Harris will get the nod at some point. It’s just a matter of when. However, Andre Branch got big money from Miami this offseason and Haynes was acquired via trade. Miami will have a deep rotation regardless of who starts.

2. Safety: Nate Allen, T.J. McDonald

The Dolphins have one of the best in the business with Reshad Jones but he needs a running mate. Allen and McDonald will fight their way to the starting job in camp. McDonald comes over from the Rams this offseason while Allen has a bit of a journey but can be productive.

3. Cornerback: Byron Maxwell, Bobby McCain, Tony Lippett, Xavien Howard, Cordrea Tankersley, Alterraun Verner

This cornerback group might be missing an elite name but it is one of the deepest groups in the league. Maxwell bounced back nicely after failing in Philadelphia. A guy like Lippet even seems to be an up and coming still developing as a former wide receiver. Howard and Tankersley were taken with high draft picks in recent years. Boy is this something to monitor during the preseason.

Ready To Breakout: Jarvis Landry

Yes, Jarvis Landry is a nice player but he isn’t among the top 10 receivers in the league, yet. Heading into his fourth year, I’m expecting a monster season for Landry that really puts his name on the map. After a 94 catch season, look for Landry to get into the 100 catch range and adding a few more touchdowns along the way. Given Landry’s impending free agency looming, expect him to have a terrific season.

Rookie To Watch: Raekwon McMillan

Some guys are just NFL ready from day one. The former Ohio State linebacker fits that mantra and will be a tackling machine for the Dolphins. Along with Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons, this Miami linebacking core will be fun to watch. McMillan was extremely high on my draft board and warranted a look in the first round despite going in round two.

Fantasy Sleeper: DeVante Parker

The problem with DeVante Parker is his durability, not his talent. If Parker can finally stay healthy, it’s possible he can transform into a number one wide receiver. As a former first round pick, the talent is there.