Steve Mitchell

Miami Dolphins: CB a Position of Need?

With rumors swirling that the Miami Dolphins could land a veteran cornerback, Eric Roddy looks at the position and determines if there is a need.

The Miami Dolphins have been active early this off-season. The 2016 season ended less than a month ago, and already the team has cut Earl Mitchell and Mario Williams, as well as dishing Branden Albert to the Jacksonville Jaguars for TE Julius Thomas.

The rumors continue to swirl, including one that pegs the Miami Dolphins vying for another veteran corner to place in their mix alongside Byron MaxwellXavien HowardTony Lippett and Bobby McCain.

After considering this group and the significant strides they made as a unit between the first half of the season and the second half, it is worth noting that while the team could benefit from another corner in the competition, they don't exactly need one. 

Maxwell, who started the season terribly, finished as a Top 25 cornerback according to Pro Football Focus. He finished the season with two interceptions and the most passes defended in his career, at 15. 

Perhaps the best surprise of this unit was the growth displayed by second year corner Tony Lippett. Lippett, a project WR-turned-CB out of Michigan State Spartans, made a huge jump between his rookie season and his sophomore season, totaling 4 interceptions and 10 passes defended (9 more than he had last season). Lippett's large frame and long arms make him dangerous in deflecting passes, and he needs to get better at tackling on the outside in year 3. However, he started 13 games for the Dolphins, and will compete for one of the 2 starting jobs in 2017. 

Rookie Xavien Howard showed great promise despite a few rookie mistakes, and totaled 1 interception in the playoff game against the Steelers, to accompany his 6 defended passes and one force fumbles. Howard is physical, which is exactly why the Dolphins moved up to take him in the second round of last year's draft, and is a sure tackler in the run game. He will be Miami's press corner for years to come, and should grow even more in his second season.

Where the Dolphins could use another cornerback is in the slot position. Bobby McCain also improved in his 2nd season, totaling 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and 1 sack to go along with 6 defended passes. McCain was also burnt for many big plays. and struggled tackling. If the Miami Dolphins were to bring another corner, it would be to compete with McCain as the nickel/slot corner. However, McCain should continue to get better, and will not have to learn a new system under new DC Matt Burke, which should help his progress in year 3. 

Do not sleep on Lafayette Pitts, an undrafted rookie for the Dolphins who saw action in 8 games last season. The special teams players was forced onto the field thanks to injuries to the secondary, and performed well considering he was undrafted. If Pitts can make a big jump in year 2, he could also compete for significant playing time. 


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