Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes (5’10; 185) is annually considered one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL despite being undrafted in 2006 and suffering a potentially career-threatening Achilles injury in 2012. In 2015, the Dolphins are going to continue to heavily rely on Grimes as the team’s top cornerback as the team’s other corners compete for the second starting job and nickel role.
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Before the 2014 season, Grimes signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Dolphins that included $16 million guaranteed. Coming off a great 2013 campaign where he was voted as the 95th best NFL player, Grimes raised his level of play even higher for the 2014 season. He ended up with 5 interceptions and was selected to his third Pro Bowl, solidifying his status as arguably one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Grimes was voted as the 38th best player in the NFL Top 100 for the 2014-15 season.
I anticipate Grimes continuing his stellar level of play for the 2015 season as he has shown no signs of slowing down. With big free-agent signing Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake manning the defensive front, it is very possible that Grimes actually improves on his 2014 numbers. A better pass rush will apply more pressure on opposing quarterbacks and force them to throw to Grimes more often. Expect Grimes to be among the league leaders in interceptions this year.
No one on the Dolphins’ roster will challenge his starting role on the team, so Grimes’ biggest challenge will be the improved receiving corps on opposing teams in AFC East. This off-season, the New York Jets traded for Brandon Marshall, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Marshall, who is 6’4 with elite route-running ability, will definitely be a tall order for the much smaller Grimes. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins will also be a tougher cover this year, as he’s expected to only get better after showing flashes of great potential last season. Grimes plays a position that is heavily predicated on instincts and athleticism. Neither is currently in question, but smaller cornerbacks like Grimes rely on above-average athleticism to compensate for their lack of size. He’s on the wrong side of 30 at 32 years old, and sooner or later older players tend to struggle as their athleticism wanes over time.
With a lot of uncertainty at various positions on the defensive side for the Dolphins, there is no doubt that Grimes is going to give his best on a weekly basis. And thankfully for the Dolphins, his best is considered elite. Everything considered Grimes could possibly have the best year of his career this upcoming season.