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Dolphins need 2015 draft class to step up

The Miami Dolphins had one of the youngest rosters in the NFL last season. It is one of several factors why the team finished 6-10, which was Miami's worst record since 2011.

This year the Dolphins have a lot to prove in order to contend in the AFC East and within the conference. That also means many of their young players must come of age quickly and fill holes on the roster.

With that said, here is a look at the 2015 draft class and what roles they can potentially fill this upcoming season:

  • DeVante Parker, WR, first round: Parker got off to a slow start his rookie year due to summer foot surgery. But Parker showed why he was Miami’s top pick once he got healthy. He recorded 22 receptions for 445 yards and three touchdowns in the final six games of the season. Parker will join No. 1 receiver Jarvis Landry in the starting lineup next season. Parker’s big-play capability is a good complement to Landry’s steady short and intermediate game. They should be a dynamic duo this upcoming season as long as both can stay healthy.

  • Jordan Phillips, DT, second round: Phillips showed flashes and has upside, but he was too inconsistent. Phillips finished with 19 tackles and two sacks last season. Phillips started four of the last five games for Miami due to injuries and struggles of veteran Earl Mitchell. Both failed to stop the run. The player who can do that the best in training camp likely will win the starting job. Either way, Phillips should get a lot of snaps in his second season.

  • Jamil Douglas, G, fourth round: Miami’s guard position remains a major question mark. Douglas could do the Dolphins a huge favor if he makes a quality jump in Year 2 and fills one of their two openings. Douglas was up and down in six starts at guard and center last year. He will compete with Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner, Kraig Urbik and Jermon Bushrod for two openings.

  • Bobby McCain, CB, fifth round: Another big hole Miami has is at cornerback. The team swapped Pro Bowler Brent Grimes for former Philadelphia Eagles corner Byron Maxwell. However, one starting job and the nickel spot remain wide open. McCain is more likely to compete for the nickel role, which is a position he played at times last season.

  • Jay Ajayi, RB, fifth round: Ajayi may be in the most intriguing spot from this draft class. He was a backup all last season and rushed for just 187 yards. However, the significant loss of running back Lamar Miller and multiple failed attempts to land a starter in free agency has put Ajayi in the spotlight. Currently he’s the starter, although there’s a good chance Miami will add to the position via the draft or late in free agency.

  • Tony Lippett, CB, fifth round: Lippett is a converted college wide receiver who steadily improved at corner as a rookie at the NFL level. He wound up getting reps in the secondary by the end of the season. Lippett could add depth on the perimeter next season.

Not every player remaining from Miami’s 2015 draft class will pan out and contribute next season. But the Dolphins need a majority of these players to step up and play key roles if they plan to compete in the AFC East next season.