Miami Dolphins Still Lacking Ball Hawking Safety

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We have lacked a true Free Safety for years now. An argument can made that Chris Clemons was the player that we were supposed to groom and allow him to be the long term solution.  I knew right away that Clemons was not the answer and to be honest he never proved me wrong.  Clemons best asset is his speed, but we need more than that from the Free Safety position.  During his five year tenure with the Dolphins he has 4 interceptions.  I am sure you can do the math here, that’s less than one interception per season…let that marinate for a second.

I grew up watching Louis Oliver, Brock Marion and Sammy Knight.  These safeties would help our defence make game changing plays.  Add in Patrick Surtain, Troy Vincent and Sam Madison, opposing QBs would hate to throw the ball against us.  Times have changed and so has our game. We are now a pass first league, and without the addition of a Ball Hawk in our backfield, we will be continue to see opposing QB attack the middle of the field.

We should allow Chris Clemons to walk this offseason and I don’t believe there is a need to re-sign him.  It’s time to start looking for an alternative solution to our Free Safety position. The free agent market doesn’t have any key players that jump out at you.  The most attractive player is Jairus Byrd.  Byrd has an attractive resume and is known from making plays, however, he is looking to cash in and I highly doubt that we want to eat up $40 million of our cap space to him.  I like Antonie Bethea from the Colts. He has played well for the last few season and will command a rather fair salary, although I don’t consider him a long term solution, since he will be 30 when the season start, he would provide a stop gap solution for a few years.

This upcoming draft shows a lot of potential in the Free Safety position.  I highly doubt that we will be addressing this position in the first three rounds, but we might see a player selected in rounds four to five.

My diamond in the rough player that would be a perfect fit for the Dolphins is Jimmie Ward from Northern Illinois.  Small town school, not a big program but enough to get you noticed.  Ward plays with fire and has shown really strong development and progress during his university tenure:

 

Year

Tackles

For A Loss

Sacks

Interceptions

Pass Defenses

2013

95

2.5

1

7

10

2012

104

1.0

0

3

14

2011

100

2.5

1

1

5

2010

20

0

0

0

1

Stats extracted from ESPN.COM

 

Ward lacks the ideal height that you would want from a Free Safety, but at 5’10 he can still make plays which are evident by his team high 7 interceptions last season.  Ward played well at the Senior Bowl and if he as a strong combine I can see him moving up a round or two.  If Ward is sitting there in the fourth round it would be a perfect match.  Our new GM Dennis Hickey believes in high character players with no attitude issues and Ward fills his criteria both on and off the field.

 

Bottom line, here is what we know.  Our O line will get a makeover, our starting nose tackles will be replaced, and there might be a change in our line backing core.  Our secondary has played well, and with Grimes and Jones we have two key ingredients to shore up our secondary; adding a ball hawking Free Safety…now that would just be the icing on top of the cake.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Chris Clemons Dennis Hickey Jimmie Ward Sam Madison Senior Bowl