Projected Starters: Defense

Olivier Vernon

DE, 6-2, 268

NFL experience: Third season

This former UM standout led the Dolphins in sacks (11.5) last season and has contributed 89 tackles and 15 sacks in his two seasons. Vernon hopes to build on his second season as a full-fledged NFL starter by becoming more consistent. A good season could turn into a $30-plus million payday for this 2012 third-round pick.

Randy Starks

DT, 6-3, 305

NFL experience: 11th season

Starks, who has spent the previous five seasons as a starter for the Dolphins, is viewed as one of the most forceful defensive tackles in the NFL, which explains his two Pro Bowl appearances. The 30-year-od started 117 games in his previous 10 seasons.

Earl Mitchell

NT, 6-3, 310

NFL experience: Fifth season

The Dolphins signed Mitchell to a four-year, $16 million deal to replace Paul Soliai as the team's primary run stuffer. Last season, he contributed 48 tackles (33 solo) and 1.5 sacks as a starter for the Texans. He'll split the workload with Jared Odrick.

Cameron Wake

DE, 6-3, 262

NFL experience: Sixth season

He has delivered 51.5 sacks in his previous five seasons, which is the most in franchise history in that time span. Wake needs 8.5 sacks to surpass Jeff Cross for sole possession of fifth place in franchise history. When this 32-year-old is healthy, he's usually a force.

Dannell Ellerbe

WLB, 6-1, 245

NFL experience: Sixth season