Eye in the Sky Report – Need for Speed
What is the only trait or attribute that you cannot teach a player….speed.
A player can have all the intangibles you are looking for. They can pass the eye ball test: athletic, built, smart and loyal. However, when you put a player on the field you cannot foresee how fast they will develop or how fast they will react to the culture of the NFL.
Coach Philbin and Jeff Ireland made no secret for their desire to increase ‘team speed’ this offseason. Take a quick look at the players they brought in and signed to long terms deals:
- Signed Mike Wallace WR
- Fastest player in the NFL
- Released Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burrnet and signed two younger and faster LBs Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler
- Did not resign Antony Fasano and signed a faster younger Dustin Keller
- Traded away Davon Bess and signed a faster younger Brandon Gibson
Coach Philbin and Ireland did not stop their fixation on team speed and carried that same craving while drafting two potential starting cornerbacks in the 2nd and 3rd round of the NFL. Ironically those two selected players have one solid common characteristic, can you guess what that is?
Watch game tape on Jamar Taylor and you are left with one overall conclusion…dam. I don’t know how else to sum it up. This prospect reminds me a lot of Vontae Davis, except that Taylor is a lot stronger and hopefully doesn’t carry the same persona. Taylor excels against the run coverage and was asked to play a lot of hit coverages at Boise State. Hit coverages are usually deemed for Safeties, however when you have that type of speed you can ask your starting cornerback to play that technique. This was evident by his 2.5 sacks last season.
Taylor’s love for contact allows him to never shy down from opposing Wide Receivers. Due to his best characteristic, speed, Taylor can fit in both zone and man coverages. He has the ability to run downfield with alpha wide receivers and can maintain his responsibility in zone formations. However, based on the game tape Taylor plays a risk reward technique. The best part of this technique is that you have to have confidence in your ability; otherwise you wouldn’t even begin to try it. Taylor gained the confidence of his teammate and I am sure his coach to implore this attribute. The risk reward technique allows Taylor to gamble from his responsibility in order to make a game changing play. Taylor would sometimes bite routes and make a game changing INT or fumbles; however when there is a chance of a reward, the opportunity for risk is always presented. The risk is that he has jumped routes on double moves that left opposing players wide open.
How did risk reward technique work out for Taylor? Within the past two years, he created 7 Interceptions and 3 Forced Fumbles. One of those interceptions he took to the house; a 100 yard return. Name the last time a CB did that for the Dolphins?
I can’t even remember the last time a Dolphins starting CB took an interception 100 yards for a touchdown (Louis Oliver, I think)? You may not have to take a trip down memory lane, as the Dolphins 3rd round selection shares the same accomplishment as Jamar Taylor. Will Davis has game changing ability written all over him.
There is limited game tape on this prospect because he only played two years, but his last season at Utah State was amazing. He showed a drastic improvement in all categories, the most important one INT, where he snagged down 5 INTS, and took one to the house for a 100 yard return. And you have to give mad love to this kid, as those 5 INT were all in consecutive games. Let that marinate for a second.
How did he do this…speed. He’s got amazing acceleration and his shadowing is great but need improvement. The way he back peddles and his eyes on player reactions will remind a lot of our fans of Terrell Buckley. Honestly, if Davis wore 27, you would think that Buckley is back on our team.
Davis only weakness that I can see is his experience. Due to only playing two years his game recognition needs works which is why his shadowing is not up to speed. His zone developments are not yet accurate and his positioning needs work. This is especially evident in cover 3 schemas. Davis plays a strong man coverage and has a nice built to him, (benching 16 reps at the combine shows he’s not shy to avoid contact). The best part about this is that all these weakness are teachable, which is why Davis fell to the third round. Kevin Coyle has the opportunity to mold this prospect to his liking and deploy Davis where he sees a fit. Davis reaction time due to his speed can make up for this zone positioning or lack of game experience, but once Coyle develops him and Davis gets it all together, we are going to see the second coming of Terrell Buckley.
Last year game tape exposed one key problem, Ireland and Philbin, both seem to agree that our overall team speed needed improvement. By carrying the same mentality throughout the entire offseason they believed that their biggest weakness is no longer a liability. Selecting Taylor and Davis shows dedication to their offseason commitment. These two prospects implore many great attributes, but you cannot shy away from their speed. Within this entire offseason process, the need for speed has been our team mentality; it’s now time to let these players showcase their attributes and show us what their speed can do for us.