Dolphins Training Camp Preview – Free Safety
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, well not really. But Christmas in the summer usually means all of us are ready for Training Camp. Throughout the past few weeks our writers have been sharing their thoughts on our camp battles, today our focus is on the Free Safety position.
For all the avid readers on our site, you can refer to my ‘Eye in the Sky’ reports from last year. As a former Free Safety their isn’t a position that I like to pay more attention too on our roster. Based on that I am pleased to provide the following breakdown of our candidates heading into Training Camp:
- Back up/special teams
- This former 6th round pick has lived up to his 6th round selection, in that he was a project players that our former regimen thought could translate into being a starter. Clemons has great speed, but was not able to grasp playing the Robber in Nolan’s defensive system, as such was delegated to the bench last season. I don’t see a return to field for this former Clemson Tiger. Although Chris might see the field in dime packages, he would be considered the prime replacements if Wilson struggles due to his best asset; speed. Clemons will make the team because he will be a true ‘gunner’ on special teams.
- Camp cut
- When he is on, Culver can provide some sense of relief in the secondary, however his lack of overall consistency and flaws in coverage reliability make him a true target. He might see the field on umbrella coverages, but I am not even sure he makes the team when camp cut days start happening. The only thing that might save the job for this former 6th round pick, is that he has ties with Philbin from Green Bay.
- Back up/special teams
- McCray is the reason why I think Culver will be cut. One thing you have to remember about our Kevin Coyle our new Defensive Coordinator is that he loves to exchange his safety positions in which is commonly referred to as zebra technique. McCray best asset is that he is smart and dependable. The Free Safety position is the last line of defence that you have, and you want someone you can rely on. Yes, McCray went undrafted, however this prospect pulled down 10 INT and received offers from more than 12 teams.
And our starter:
- I loved everything I saw from Wilson last year. I watched a few games again and saw that his shadowing technique was outstanding. He lost the majority of his battles due to double moves from WR. However that is coachable and recognizable with more playing time. Wilson does not have top end speed, but his initial acceleration is simply amazing. He can’t read plays or play development yet, but that is what practice is all about. If you look at the past Free Safeties that Coyle worked with Reggie Nelson, Chris Croker, Gibril Wilson (two former dolphins on this list) I can see a nice and rapid development in Wilson game this year. Wilson always have the ability to play the Zebra nicely. His run coverage is great and he can be supportive in the role. We all know he loves contact, and bringing him down on Spy or Hit techniques will only benefit his development. Where we might see some growing pains is his coverage responsibility. There is not much game tape on Wilson in university, so I am going to analyze him on what I saw in preseason only. Wilson zone development needs work. I don’t think he understand the difference between Cover 2 lock, and cover 2. But the good news in all of this is that there is a new playbook. Coyle is going to have to mentor Wilson, but the light will come on and I think we finally have found a true Free Safety, something we haven’t seen since Brock Marion left.
One thing that I have to stress, is that our Free Safety position does not have a blue chip prospect. All the players I have listed above were either drafted in the 6th or 7th round or went undrafted. We have failed to add a blue chip prospect s for years and continue to add stop gap players or players that we think might eventually turn into solid or great player. I am not sure if that is the best way forward. When you look at the top 5 Defense in our league you can’t help but notice a true ball hawk roaming their secondary. Troy, Ed Reed, Eric Berry, Goldson. All players listed are either 1st round or 2nd round picks.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Wilson will play well, but for us to get excited about a bunch of 6th to 7th round players roaming our secondary does not really scare anyone. Opposing QB’s will take notice of this and Koyle better ensure his players are ready!
Tomorrow we take a closer look at our Strong Safety position.