Strong Safety: Tyrell Johnson, Tyrone Culver, Anderson Russell
Free Safety: Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Jimmy Wilson, Kelcie McCray (R)
First, it should be noted that Joe Philbin does not plan to implement a traditional strong and free safety pair.
Johnson (6’0″, 207 lbs) has played all four seasons of his NFL career for the Vikings after being selected in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He has played in 49 NFL games totaling 123 tackles, zero sacks and two INTs — these numbers are a little more than one season of 16 games for the recently departed Yeremiah Bell. Culver (6’1″, 210 lbs) has played 5 seasons — one for Green Bay and four for Miami. He has played largely as a backup and special teamer in 76 NFL games totaling 137 tackles, one sack and two INTs.
Clemons (6’1″, 210 lbs) and Jones (6’1″, 214 lbs) were both drafted by Miami in the 5th round — Clemons in 2009 and Jones in 2010. Clemons started in 14 games (and played in 15 games) in 2010 totaling 61 tackles, two sacks and one INT. Jones started in 12 games (and played in 15 games) in 2011 totaling 67 tackles, two sacks and one INT.
Russell, Wilson, and McCray are starting on the outside hoping to be in. Russell (6’0″, 205 lbs) has one year of very limited NFL experience playing for the Redskins after going undrafted out of Ohio State. Wilson (5’11″, 185 lbs) had a good rookie campaign at cornerback with the Dolphins totaling 17 tackles, zero sacks and one INT. McCray (6’1″, 202 lbs) is an undrafted free agent rookie out of Arkansas State. In his senior season of college, McCray totaled 70 tackles, zero sacks and four INTs.
Analysis: I think one of three players on the outside have a good chance to make the 53 man roster. All four of the experienced veterans (Johnson, Culver, Clemons and Jones) are at a point in their careers where it is time to put up or ship out — their 2012 contact numbers may indicate the one who may be on the way out — Clemons is due $1,308,000 (only $40,000 guaranteed), Culver is due $800,000, Johnson is due $700,000, and Jones is due $540,000. Wilson has a good chance to make the 53 man roster, however he is smaller in stature than the others making it somewhat difficult for him to man up and cover TEs.
Left Cornerback: Sean Smith, Jonathan Wade, Marcus Brown, Trenton Hughes (R)
Right Cornerback: Vontae Davis, Nolan Carroll, Vince Agnew, Kevyn Scott (R)
Nickel Cornerback: Richard Marshall, Quinten Lawrence
Smith (6’3″, 214 lbs) has played three seasons with the Dolphins participating in 47 NFL games totaling 151 tackles, zero sacks, three INTs, and 29 defended passes. Davis (5’11, 203 lbs) has also played three seasons with the Dolphins participating in 44 NFL games totaling 150 tackles, one sack, nine INTs, and 31 defended passes. Marshall (5’11″, 198 lbs) has played six seasons with the Panthers (5) and Cardinals participating in 96 NFL games (some at safety) totaling 500 tackles, seven sacks, 17 INTs, and 57 defended passes.
Carroll (6’3″, 214 lbs) has played two seasons with the Dolphins participating in 28 NFL games totaling 35 tackles, zero sacks, two INTs, and six defended passes. Wade (5’11″, 200 lbs) has played six seasons with the Rams (3), Lions, Bengals, and Dolphins participating in 61 NFL games totaling 111 tackles, zero sacks, two INTs, and 12 defended passes.
The other five prospects are on the outside hoping to be in. Lawrence (6’0″, 184 lbs) was drafted by the Chiefs in the 6th round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of McNeese State and since has participated in only six NFL games (2010) as a wide receiver. Agnew (5’10″, 192 lbs) undrafted in 2011 out of Central Michigan was on the Dolphins practice squad all last year. Brown (6’1″, 195 lbs) undrafted in 2011 out of Arkansas State was on the Dolphins practice squad last year after being acquired as a free agent in December. Hughes (5’10″, 195 lbs) was selected as an undrafted free agent rookie in 2012 out of Maryland. And, Scott (5’10″, 204 lbs) was selected as an undrafted free agent rookie in 2012 out of Syracuse.
Analysis: The Dolphins look solid at cornerback with Davis, Smith, and Marshall. Carroll and Wade provide adequate backups — but, nothing to really write home about in the event that one of the top three goes down with an injury — which should not be ignored considering both Davis (again) and Marshall are currently nursing injuries — hopefully, Carroll will have a breakout season. The remaining five currently on the roster are developmental projects with the hope of one standing up to challenge for a 53 man roster spot and one or two to make the practice squad. It will be interesting to watch Lawrence make the transition from WR to CB providing the Dolphins the possibility of a two way player.
There will be a real battle for the nine spots on the 53 man roster in the defensive backfield. This includes a serious competition for the two starting safety spots. I think Chris Clemons will be really on the hot seat given his 2012 salary cap hit. Either he proves himself as a starter or else I think he is a goner. If Wilson successfully proves himself as a safety (even as a backup), he would provide an interesting option of position flexibility as a safety and a cornerback. Thus, do not be surprised if the Dolphins carry five safeties and four cornerbacks on the 53 man roster, considering both Marshall and Wilson could play both positions. My sleeper pick is rookie Kelcie McCray, who burned a 4.54 seconds in the 40 yard dash at the 2012 NFL Combine. He could replace Clemons on the 53 man roster, if Clemons does not claim a starting spot. Also, do not be surprised if Ireland adds a veteran safety before or during training camp — note that Jim Leonard, formerly of the Jets, is still available.
What do you think? Who do you think will make the nine active roster spots? Do you think Ireland will pick up any more veteran players?
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