The Miami Dolphins are a young football team stacked with promising talent. Coming off another disappointing season in the AFC East, they are hopeful some of that promising, young talent can take the next step in 2014.
Here are four potential players who could have a breakout year upcoming…
Lamar Miller, RB
Knowshon Moreno was the presumed starter for the Dolphins after they inked him to a deal this offseason. However, Miller is beginning to make waves as he enters his third season in Miami and apparently holds the lead thus far in the running back competition.
A fourth-round pick out of Miami in 2012, Miller has developed slowly. He rushed for a career-high 709 yards last season, but saw his yards-per-carry average dip from 4.9 during his rookie year to 4.0.
He proved to be a valuable asset as a receiver out of the backfield though, catching 26 passes for 170 yards. Miller is a secure ball handler with good vision and excellent speed. In an ever-adapting league, he has the tools to be the total package out of the Dolphins’ backfield. With a strong summer under his belt, he could develop into a big-time star in Bill Lazor’s high-powered spread offense.
Jamar Taylor, CB
Surprisingly, the Dolphins’ secondary was one of their greatest strengths in 2013. They’re hopeful that will be the case once again this upcoming season, but some changes could await them on the outside.
Of those changes, one could be at the starting cornerback position opposite Brent Grimes. Second-year player Jamar Taylor could have a real shot to swoop in and take the starting role over guys like Cortland Finnegan and Will Davis.
Of course, Taylor would simply be happy to see the field a bit more after playing just 45 snaps for the Dolphins last season. He missed the offseason following sports hernia surgery and a kidney ailment that hindered his recovery. At one point, he thought his NFL career was over.
He’s a physical, athletic defensive back who racked up six interceptions over his last two seasons at Boise State. There is no question he has the talent, but now it’s just a matter of showing it on the practice field and earning the opportunity to make a name for himself as a member of the Dolphins’ defense.
Dion Jordan, DE
The Dolphins’ 2013 first-round pick didn’t exactly wow anybody during his rookie season. He was outclassed by Olivier Vernon and played just 339 snaps on defense as a result.
But he’ll have an opportunity to take Vernon’s job opposite Cameron Wake at defensive end again this year. Former Dolphins star Jason Taylor had plenty of positive things to say about him last week at OTAs.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) June 10, 2014
Jordan was a lethal pass rusher at Oregon, recording 29 sacks over the course of his collegiate career. He was highly touted entering last year’s draft and was too good to resist for the Dolphins, who took him with the third-overall selection.
The 6-foot-6, 248-pound defensive end has a trying rookie campaign behind him now, and with another full offseason ahead, Jordan should be better acclimated to the NFL game and ready to wreak havoc throughout the AFC East this season.
Ryan Tannehill, QB
The former first-round draft pick made some key improvements to his game in 2013, but poor pass protection hampered his progression. With a reconstructed offensive line in front of him and a bevy of talented playmakers around him, Tannehill’s third season in Miami could be when he makes the leap into the next tier of NFL quarterbacks.
The former Aggie was impressive last season. He passed for 3,913 yards, 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions while completing 60.4 percent of his pass attempts. He took advantage of the weapons around him, nearly having two 1,000-yard receivers in Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace, as well as connecting with tight end Charles Clay for 759 yards and a team-high six touchdowns.
With another season in the NFL—and as a quarterback—under his belt, Tannehill could be primed for a big year in Miami if the talent around him can play up to par.