Let’s be honest with each other, if the season started today, we would have Dmitri Patterson and Richard Marshall as our starting cornerbacks with Nolan Caroll being our nickel back. Please contain your excitement (sense the sarcasm). Since I started following the Dolphins, we never had to worry about our starting cornerbacks. We had Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison on our edges. When we let those players test the market and we thought we found our next great match by drafting Vonta Davis and Sean Smith. Jeff Ireland has now lost both of those players via trades and free agency. So we, the fans are left wondering, whose are next perfect match?
In my opinion we have two options. Option 1 would be signing a veteran, established cornerback and pairing him with a young rookie. Option 2 would be a repeat of what did a few years ago and that is doubling down on two rookie cornerbacks. What’s the best option? Well, let’s take a closer look at both:
Option 1 – Veteran and rookie CB
The free agent market doesn’t really have that much talent left on the cornerback market. The best case would be Brent Grimes, however it should be noted that he is coming off a serious injury where he tore his Achilles and landed on the Injured Reserve for the entire year. But before that injury, this kid was considered a player to watch. This was evident based on the fact that the Atlanta Falcons designated him a Franchise player. It would be a risk to sign Grimes to a long term contract, rather an incentive ridden one or two year deal would be the ideal situation for this player. It would protect our team, and it would also provide Grimes an opportunity to broadcast his talents to the entire league which could set him up for a larger contract next year.
Adam Jones has started understanding the game and appreciates what it takes to stay in this league. He has shown promise and has matured since his rookies activities led him to be cut by two different teams. Jones had a solid year with the Bengals and started living up to his first round status. Jones would not be looking for a large contract, rather a fair one. Based on the maturity that Jones has shown these past few years, I believe that he would be the ideal mentor to work with a rookie’s cornerback. The first-hand knowledge that he could pass along and educate to a young rookie would be one of the best attributes that he would bring to the table if he decides to sign with the Dolphins.
Antonio Winfield and Nnamdi Asomugha are two talented cornerbacks; however I believe that they would sign one year deals with potential contenders as they are on the last cycle of their NFL careers.
Option 2 – Doubling down
“we’ve made some great moves to get younger, get faster, more explosive, more physical. Some of the moves we’ve made are certainly upgrades to what we’re trying to get accomplished on both offense and defensively.
Jeff Ireland press conference extracted from Miami Dolphins.com
If you read the above statement by Ireland you can’t help but think that he wants the teams speed to be an asset. Injecting two dynamic and exciting young players to our secondary would only entice our fan base that Ireland means business. By drafting two corner backs in next month’s NFL draft, we would see a repeat of what Ireland did a few years ago, however, this might be the best option we have.
You can’t go to any mock draft and not see how NFL media communities are linking the Miami Dolphins to Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes has blossomed into a first round selection based on his raw athletic ability which he showcased to all General Managers at the NFL combine last month. Rhodes is a solid 6’1, 210 pound athlete. He ran a 4.43, 40 time at the combine and showed solid progression during his on the field activities. One thing to mention is that last year, Jeff Ireland drafted two players from the University of Miami, as the fan base was always wondering why the Dolphins never select any Florida grown talent. Rhodes played for Florida State, so selecting him 12th overall, might increase Ireland popularity as well as bring a solid addition to our secondary.
If we chose to double down, we would need another rookie cornerback to pair with Rhodes. As such it would be wise to use one of our two second round picks on obtaining another prospect. Enter Darius Slay, from Mississippi State. All the attention this year has been directed to Slay teammate, Jonathan Banks, and his injury concerns. Banks injuries have led scouts to look at the player that subbed in from him which was Slay. Slay had an amazing combine by running one of the fastest 40 times for his group and demonstrated solid awareness during his on field activities. Based on Slay strong performance many believe that he is starting to climb up draft boards where Banks and his injury concerns are dropping.
If we decide to upgrade other positions in the 2nd round, one player might be available in the 3rd round that would create an interesting story line. That player is Tyrann Mathieu aka the Honey Badger. As many of our fans know this player was asked to leave the LSU program for drug addictions to conduct that didn’t properly reflect the culture of LSU Football. Tyrann is now looking for a 2nd chance to prove that he is worthy of playing in the NFL. He worked out for everyone during the NFL combine, with mixed results. Tryann did show potential on the field, however his individual work out, specifically the bench press might have hurt his overall value. During the combine, the NFL network team asked Tryann about his time at LSU and how he is going about rebuilding his image, he stated the following:
“I didn’t have everything together back in college. I had everything together as far as football, but when it came to my social life, my personnel life, I didn’t have everything intact. I didn’t have my emotions intact. Spiritually, I wasn’t intact. Once you take football away, you are able to work on the person. These last six months, that is all I had was Tyrann the person. I attacked the person, I attacked my issues. I think that is why I am here at the combine … Back when I was the Honey Badger, I didn’t have everything intact. Going forward, I am going to focus on being Tyrann Mathieu and that is the person I want to control right now.”
Drafting Tyrann would be no different than signing Adam Jones. The only difference is that Jones has shown he has matured on and off the field. Tyrann would be an intriguing prospect to watch out for, remember he was once considered one of the best athletes in the NCCA, by being a finalist for the Heisman Award. Tyrann might not fit into Philbin culture, but would be an interesting story line to monitor.
Ireland and his team of scouts have a lot of work left and must decide which option they will chose to enforce. What we do know for certain is that when our players hit the field, we will be watching our new cornerbacks develop, and we can only hope that their bond, like all new relationships, is the start of something special.