Eye in the Sky Report – A Closer Look At Kelcie McCray
With the draft fast approaching, many fans and media exports alike are thinking about the new possible players that might entice our fan base. Will we be drafting new players that excite our offence or defensive structure? However, before we think about adding new players, let’s review one player that is currently on our team that hasn’t even played a snap for us. That player…Kelcie McCray.
“Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is “excited” about second-year FS Kelcie McCray. Source Miami Herald
The biggest endorsement a player can receive is that he knows that his coach has confidence in him. As a former player, you know that you might get that stare of death look if you miss a tackle or blow an assignment, but knowing that your coach will step up and believe in you is one of the best parts of playing this game. Joe Philbin has that type of confidence in McCray, the reason, I don’t know, but based on his game tape, there is a reason to be excited.
We need to start at the beginning to understand how McCray became a Dolphin. He was an undrafted free agent signing coming from Arkansas State. At the NFL combine he performed well, not solid or spectacular, but enough to get noticed. His best asset is his speed, where he ran a 4.4 40 time. His strength needs work as he only put up 12 reps on the bench press, still not bad, when you compare him to the rest of his class at his position. He never took the field last year, as he ended up on our Injured Reserve all year with a foot injury. Therefore, this upcoming season, will be his rookie year.
McCray frame resembles our former starting cornerback; Sean Smith, in that he is a lean 202lbs with a 6’2 build. Some experts thought he would make the transition to cornerback rather than play the Strong Safety position. I believe McCray didn’t make that transition for one reason, and that is due to his former position he played during his collegiate career at Arkansas State, where he started out as Quarterback.
As many of you know, the Safety position is the Quarterback of the defence. You are the eyes and ears of the unit. Your responsibility is to advise your team members on the pre-snap reads, the motion, the formation set, and anything that would help out your team on that given play. As a Safety you must understand the concept and mentality of your opponent and otherwise they will take advantage of you. There is no set logic to understanding how the play develops, you can only hope that your research and knowledge of the game will allow you to have the upper hand.
Is McCray a valued student of the game, truth be told, I don’t know. I can only derive my analysis based on what I have seen from his college career. McCray best asset is his run coverage. Even though he has a lean figure he loves the contact. McCray will lower his shoulder pads and take on any opposing Running back or Wide Receive making a dig pattern. However, there are many areas of improvement that I have seen that he needs to work on. Although he was a Quarterback his game recognition needs works. Reviewing the tape he couldn’t quite understand the difference between option reads (where a hot route player can alter his pattern based on whether or not the defence is playing zone or man) and his play development are serious improvement areas. This was evident when opposing players conducted double moves or hot route patterns.
This type of game recognition comes with experience. You can try to research it by reviewing player attributes, (double to single shoulder fakes, how a player moves their feet on certain routes, or even their body language when they line up) however seasoned player will notice this lack of experience and game plan accordingly.
That’s the mentality of NFL coaches, they expose the weakest link over and over again until opposing teams try and fix it.
When it’s all said and done, our OTA’s and training camp will give us our first hand review of our newest rookie addition, and before the NFL draft starts he might not be the only new rookie secondary member. It’s great that our Head Coach, Joe Philbin, is endorsing this promising prospect, but it will be us the fans that need to see if we share the same level of excitement.