In the 2016 NFL Draft, it was definitely a safe bet that the Miami Dolphins would be drafting a cornerback. Many thought the position would be addressed in the 1st round, but through a twist of fate, with the aide of a “bong” and “gas mask”, another player fell to the Dolphins, by the name of Laremy Tunsil. No one could argue the offensive line needed help and Tunsil, the top rated lineman in the draft, should really help shore up the line.
By the time the 2nd round rolled around, I think everyone, and their grandmother, knew a corner was going to picked. The Dolphins were seemingly a bit nervous and actually traded up 4 spots to grab corner Xavien Howard, from Baylor.
Howard seems to fit the Dolphins' new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s philosophy, which calls for bigger corners. Standing 6 feet tall and weighing about 200 lbs, Howard could be just what the doctor ordered for a Dolphins secondary ailing for help. Besides Howard’s size he also has good quickness and athleticism. His 9 interceptions over the past two seasons as a starter in the Baylor Bears defense, shows he has a lot of ball-hawk tendencies in him. I’m sure the Dolphins could use a few more interceptions after last season’s lowly team total of 13. Howard had 5 by himself last year in college.
Some may wonder why Howard lasted until the 2nd round. Well, there are some knocks against him. The first one would be his overall speed. He ran one of the slower times in the 40 yard dash for cornerbacks posting 4.58 seconds at the combine. Also his 11 reps on the bench were a bit low for a 200 pound corner. At his size, I think many were expecting a few more repetitions and his 33 inch vertical jump was not among the best either. But roll the tape on this guy and you’ll see an aggressive ball-hawking defender who looks like he enjoys contact, jamming receivers and supporting the run. I remember two other corners drafted in the 2nd round; Sam Madison and Pat Surtain. Those guys also had knocks on them coming out of college but both turned out to be pro-bowl caliber players.
Now I think the Dolphins will almost certainly sign another veteran corner, just because guys like Tony Lippett and Bobby McCain, who were with the team last year, only have one year of experience. And with Brent Grimes long gone along with Jamar (couldn’t get off the bench) Taylor, the 2nd corner spot is seriously lacking experience.
Two experienced free agent cornerback names that keep popping up as being associated with the Dolphins are Antonio Cromartie and Leon Hall. Hall has experience working with DC Vance Joseph in Cincinnati, and appears to be getting a lot more attention on the market than Cromartie. That means he will probably command more money than Cromartie. Both are older players and probably wouldn’t be here more than a year or so, but either could be solid on a team lacking experience at the position. In my opinion, if the Dolphins sign one of these guys, he would likely start opposite of Byron Maxwell. However, I look for Howard to replace anyone the Fins might sign by mid-season, if not sooner. If the Dolphins don’t sign a veteran with a lot of starting experience, I predict Howard will start on opening day in Seattle. Either way, I think Howard will be up for the challenge, whenever his time comes.