Nov. 15, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Ruvell Martin (82) and Miami Dolphins defensive back R.J. Stanford (25) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo defeats Miami 19 to 14. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Dolphins biggest struggles this season seem to have happened in the secondary. More specifically the Cornerback position. After the Dolphins traded Vontae Davis to the Indianapolis Colts, and Richard Marshall sidelined due to injury for most of the season, they were already thin at the Cornerback position. There were four main players remaining that played the Cornerback role. The two starters were Sean Smith and Nolan Carroll, then R.J. Stanford and Jimmy Wilson were used as backups to give Smith or Carroll a break. So after Smith and Carroll, who played the main role as backup? R.J. Stanford.
Stanford was drafted in the 7th round by the Carolina Panthers in the 2010 Draft out of Utah. While in college he spent most of the time playing as the nickelback in the secondary, but started his college career as a running back. He played his first game as a true freshman at the running back position, but was quickly moved to play as a cornerback.
With Stanford ending his second season in the NFL, and first with the Miami Dolphins, he played well considering his role and his physical attributes. Stanford is too short to be a solid starter in the cornerback spot, but he’s fast enough to be a useful nickelback. He’s not the type of secondary player that will produce many turnovers, but he will be able to disrupt the receiver and make it more challenging for him.
Stat wise, R.J. Stanford had an average season considering the amount of games he played, and the amount of snaps he saw on the field. He played in 16 games, had 21 combined tackles(16 solo, 5 assisted), no sacks, and no interceptions. He was able to record an average of at least one solo tackle per game, but didn’t make any big plays.
I think R.J. Stanford has what it takes to be a solid nickel cornerback for the Dolphins. He has the speed and the knowledge of how to play that position from college. In no way do I think he will ever be able to play as a starting cornerback in the NFL, but he can be utilized in certain situations.
When you consider the Dolphins desperate need of help in the secondary, Stanford not seeing the field as much as other players in the secondary, and his youth, he had a decent season. If he would have had the stats listed above after starting every game, or even seeing a lot of playing time, then I would be very concerned, but that’s not the case. It will be interesting to see if Miami decides to keep R.J. Stanford for next season, and if he will be able to consistently help this team.
But as things stand now, my final grade for R.J. Stanford’s season is: D+/C-