The question of whether the Miami Dolphins will make cornerback a first round or second round priority won’t be known until draft day. There is no question Miami needs to improve at the position.
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Where the Dolphins draft a corner is as important as who. A first round selection can only be a handful of players and all of those players could be gone by the time the Dolphins are on the clock. After round one, there is a small drop off into round two but a bigger drop after round two.
While we may not know the who or the when we all agree that the need at the position is one that must be addressed this year and if Byron Maxwell doesn’t work out, they will need to address it again next year as well.
The Dolphins are in this mess because they have failed to develop their own players. Miami gave up on Sean Smith who flourished in Kansas City. They traded Vontae Davis and he has been very good for the Colts. Brent Grimes? Released in part to diminishing skills and an outspoken spouse. Despite attempts, the Dolphins have not been able to draft corners that could help the team.
Jamar Taylor was taken in round two of the 2013 draft. He has yet to make even a marginal impact. Will Davis taken one round later in the same draft is not even on the roster anymore. Last year the Dolphins opted to beef up their secondary by adding bodies in the 5th round. Bobby McCain enters his sophomore season after a so-so rookie campaign. Cedric Thompson is no longer with the team and Tony Lippett is a converted wide-receiver.
In other words, the Dolphins have not done enough to solve the issues in the secondary. That should change this year but again there are a lot of who’s, what’s, and when’s. Here are five prospects that could become Dolphins by May 1st.
Mackensie Alexander – Clemson
There are hiccups in his game. Alexander is not a good run support corner and sometimes plays a little tight off the line. While his speed is good and he has the physical traits you want in a corner, Alexander doesn’t move well with route coverage and some NFL scouts believe him to be more suited to play the nickel spot. Alexander is a first round draft pick and figures to go somewhere between 10 and 20.
The Dolphins are believed to be high on Vernon Hargreaves, III but Hargreaves is expected to be gone in the top 10.
Eli Apple – Ohio State
Apple is more ideal for the Dolphins than Alexander but his biggest glaring detraction is his tendency to grab the jersey of receivers. Which obviously will draw a flag at the NFL level. Apple is a solid coverage corner with prototypical size and an ability to play man and zone although he is better in man coverage. Apple is expected to go between 12 and 20 in this months draft and could be the pick for the Dolphins at 13.
Xavien Howard – Baylor
There is something to like about this early entry into this years draft. Howard is a good coverage corner and works well on the outside. He didn’t run as fast as many expected at the Combine but those speeds don’t always translate to NFL speed anyways. Howard is expected to go late first to mid-second and the Dolphins could eye him as a potential early day two selection. Unlike Hargreaves, Apple, and Alexander, Howard isn’t NFL ready right now but a good camp and coaching can get him there. He should be able to compete from day one with McCain, Taylor, and anyone else the Dolphins throw into the mix.
Artie Burns – Miami (Fl)
The Dolphins could opt to stay close to home and draft Burns out of their own backyard. The junior turned heads with good combine times. He is expected to go somewhere between late day two to early day three of the draft and is a viable option for the Dolphins as their first corner taken or even as a double up corner which would be the best option. Paring Burns with another earlier drafted corner could lead to a solid bookend of corners for the Dolphins down the road. Burns had six interceptions in 2015 and was solid in run support.
Harlan Miller – Southeastern Louisiana
Miller turned in a poor combine 40 time but the small school corner has done well in his college career. Miller turned heads at the Senior Bowl where he was able to make the most of an opportunity to play against bigger school players. Miller is a good outside cover corner who would be projected higher than a day three selection if he had spent time at a bigger college. While his slow 40 times will knock him back further, solid coaching and off-season training can get him better suited for play in the NFL. The Dolphins could target Miller in the 5th round if he is still there and it wouldn’t be a bad selection at all.