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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The case for a CB

Jimmy Johnson once told me there are three positions that you absolutely look at when selecting a player early in the draft: Quarterback, defensive end, and cornerback.

Remember that two of JJ's best early draft picks were Sam Madison and Pat Surtain, both in the second round. So say what you will about him not knowing offensive talent, but Jimmy had a keen eye for defense.

Let's hope Randy Mueller and Nick Saban have that kind of success drafting a cornerback because Miami needs help in that area. Last season, the Dolphins were 20th in the NFL against the pass. And unlike some pass stats that are deceptive, Miami opponents were not always behind and piling up passing stats as they tried to catch up.

So the Dolphins were legitimately bad at defending the pass in 2006.

That's why three of the four starters who opened the year as starters in the secondary -- Sam Madison, Lance Schulters and Tebucky Jones -- are off the roster now.

The Dolphins added Will Allen, Andre' Goodman, and Renaldo Hill in free agency and all have played corner at some point, although Hill will likely start out at safety. Travis Daniels is about to start his second season after a successful rookie year. And the Dolphins are also going to get Will Poole and unproven Shirdonya Mitchell back from injury.

That's a pretty crowded stable, right?

OK, so what does Miami really have? Allen is a guy the Giants didn't want anymore after Santana Moss abused him last year (Hey, Giants, where was the over-the-top help?). Goodman is considered a good nickel corner but not a guy you want as a starter. And Hill simply would be out of position at corner, which is why Nick Saban intends to try him at safety.

Daniels was fine last year and should continue to improve, but unlike many rookies who make great leaps from their first to second years, Daniels may not bridge such a huge gap because his familiarity with Saban's defense last year helped him avoid mistakes most rookies make. What you got out of Daniels last year was a truer sense of the player he will be in the future compared to most rookies that must learn a system their first year.

I'd be most excited about Poole and Mitchell because both were considered to have great potential. The Dolphins added Mitchell last year knowing he wouldn't play because Saban thought he might have been a second or third-round pick had he not shredded his knee.

Poole showed glimpses of being a good cornerback in the 2004 training camp and at times during that, his rookie season, before blowing out a knee prior to last season.

And while both players have promise, I remind you returning from knee surgery is toughest on a CB and neither performed consistently in the NFL before their injuries.

So, in my mind, the Dolphins have a lot of question marks and no exclamation points at CB.

That's OK because the CB crops is supposedly deep this year. Virginia Tech's Jimmy Williams, Ohio State's Ashton Youboty and (my favorite) Tye Hill of Clemson are all first-round players with, perhaps one of them slipping past the first 12 picks.

I'm not even going to get into which players are projected second rounders because, zzzzz, the Dolphins don't have a pick then.

Third rounders and beyond? Maybe FSU's Antonio Cromartie will slip because of his 2005 left knee injury, maybe Charles Gordon of Kansas will be available despite his good size and good speed. I love Cedric Griffin of Texas because he's 6-feet tall, plays faster than his 4.5 timing, and obviously knows how to win.

Miami's Devin Hester? I don't even consider him a cornerback. In fact, I don't know what I consider him if not a project position player who will return punts and kicks. Kelly Jennings is a better pick if you're looking for a true corner.

Of course this is all subjective, based on what I've been told by people I've spoken with. Disagree? Have a different take? I want to know because I will take your opinions to the experts and see what they say.


Blogger The Dude said...

Hill and Williams are right there in terms of their value as prospects. Hill is the faster corner (clocking a 4.30 in the 40) but Williams is the taller corner (6-2 as opposed to Hill, 5-9). I’d rate Williams slightly above Hill only because he has ideal NFL size and can play both CB and safety.

But if the Fins opt to pass on either, here are some other later round possibilities:

1.) Danieal Manning (Abilean Christian): Very raw but a play maker with tremendous athleticism.
2.) DeMario Minter (Georgia): Another aggressive athlete with good speed.
3.) Tim Jennings (Georgia): A “Poor Man’s” Tye Hill?
4.) Will Blackmon (BC): An outstanding athlete who played some WR in college.
5.) David Pittman (Northwestern St): A lot of upside and a guy who can also make an impact on Special Teams

4:19 PM  
Anonymous JoeMama said...

thanks for the blog--it is the most in depth (and clearly takes the most effort) of what is out there by the on-line miami papers.
but this is now the 3d post which indicates you don't really know much about the draft. You say "Virginia Tech's Jimmy Williams, Ohio State's Ashton Youboty and (my favorite) Tye Hill of Clemson are all first-round players with, perhaps one of them slipping past the first 12 picks." Come on, the consensus is that all 3 will be available at 16 (with the possible exception of williams), no "perhaps" about it. Then you say "Third rounders and beyond? Maybe FSU's Antonio Cromartie will slip because of his 2005 left knee injury." He's pegged for the 1st round, top of the 2d at worst by all the "experts." The people who read these blogs tend to be draft nerds like me, so stuff like this does not slip by . . .
but again, thanks for the blog!!

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:07 PM  
Blogger The MSD Godfather said...

Armando, Nick Saban wants Vince Young so bad he was willing to fly to Houston today for additional one on one time with Young and his reps. Now this is either the biggest (and best) smoke screen in the history of the NFL pre-draft hype, or there is something behind this, "smoke on the water."

I can't see how this plays out the Dolphins way however. But stranger things have happened. If the reality of the situation comes to fruition and Young is not there at 16, do not expect a DB other than Michael Huff to be sitting on the Fins board this high. And Saban has already stated he will NOT reach for need.

So we may be looking at Miami trading down to either the middle twenties and picking up an additional 2nd or 3rd rd. pick. Or if WR Chad Jackson is available at #16, pulling the trigger with the gifted receiver from up in Gainesville.

11:39 PM  
Blogger CubanCulebra said...

The Don wrote two words that make spine-tingling sense. CHAD JACKSON. When Denver traded up to the 15 spot about a month ago, I thought it was to surely take the 6`3, 4.3 beast-like prospect out of Florida, but after trading away their 22nd to San Fran, I think DeAngelo Williams will not escape the Shanahand. Phili taking Jackson at 14 makes a whole heck of a lot of sense as well, seeing as Jackson looks like a faster Terrel Owens without the baggage, but the experts seem to agree that it'll be defense for the Eagles. So, Santonio Holmes or Chad Jackson for Miami? Holmes may just be the best natural WR in the draft due to his uncanny ability to run near perfect routes, but Jackson can practice route running. Holmes can't grow 3 inches. Go ahead and lobby for DBs all you want my friend, but we've aquired a former pro-bowl QB who Saban needs to whip back into shape for years to come. "How does Saban accomplish that," you ask? Well, my fine feathered friend, he does it by simply supplying that QB with an arsenal of weapons at his disposition so that he may have every oppurtunity to advance his game. If it be my decision, I'd look at every option for a trade down due to the various needs Miami has and the fact that this draft seems to be stocked deep with talent. But, the odds are finding a trade partner and good value are slim. So, with the 16th pick in the draft, the Miami Dolphins should select Chad Jackson, WR out of Florida. Sure, opposing teams MIGHT find our secondary somewhat exposed, but they'll DEFINITELY have a hard time out scoring us. Jackson left, Chambers right, Booker in the slot, McMichael to the strongside, Williams and Brown split backfield with Culpepper under center? Anyone else got wood? Da Culebra does!

12:37 AM  
Anonymous TMFT said...

CC... for a guy who devotes as much time to following the Dolphins as u I would expect fewer mistakes. When is the last time you saw the fish use a split backfield(shotgun excluded)? I know that is nitpicking, so I'll continue. Chad Jackson is only 6'1". Those two inches make a big difference. I heard CJ compared with TO once(by his agent)and that BS has really taken off. Jackson will make his share of plays, but he is nowehere near as physical as TO. That comparison is ridiculous! Armando makes an excellent point about the time it takes to recover from a knee injury. I have never seen a player return to 100% the season following a knee injury(two yrs min). Although both injuries(Poole, Mitchell) happened b4 the start of last season, the jury is still very much out. The Dolphins have two starting wideouts and potential with Campbell, Gibson and Welker. While I agree that it would be wise to adress the wideout position in the draft, the Dolphins need a CB! Personally I think Cromartie is the guy(6'2" 208 4.4 40 44" vert.).
As far as route running, some players neither learn nor care to learn this very underated skill. If forced to choose b/w Jackson & Holmes, I would choose the latter. Most Likely, this will all be a moot point, as both wideouts will probably be gone by #16. Regardless we can all rest easy knowing Saint Nick is in charge. Go Fins!!!

2:05 AM  
Anonymous Boomer said...

I can't believe the Herald is allowing this to go on under the auspices of 'factual draft information'. Antonio Cromartie is a nailed on first rounder. And what about Jonathan Joseph, Richard Marshall, coached by Saban's close friend and former colleague Pat Hill, or Tennessee's Jason Allen, who has played FS, but is better suited to corner?

Come on man. You're writing like a 7th rounder.

2:35 AM  
Blogger CubanCulebra said...

To TMFT: You are correct sir, Chad Jackson is 6'1, Santonio Holmes is 5'10. If my math is correct, that is a 3 inch difference. And I refuse to believe that a lamen such as yourself can sit upon his nitpicking throne and actually tell me how physical a player has been or could ever be. Are you serious? Have you played against Chad Jackson? Are you in contact with his former coaches? Do you have specialized film on the guy? Can you or can you not accurately predict, on that crystal ball you call a computer, the level of physicality and fervor that Chad Jackson will perform at in his many years to come in the NFL? By the way, for a guy so worried about knee injuries, I find it amazing that you would want to invest a first round choice on a player who sat out his entire 2005 college season due to tearing ligaments in his left knee. Or are you saying we should draft Cromartie and give him another year (two yrs min) of rest before we start him? That makes a world of sense. That way, we could draft today and compete tomorrow. Why didn't I think of that before? It's genius, underhanded, almost diabolical. Opposing teams will never see it coming. They'll think we're crazy. HA! Like a fox! A slightly retarded fox with three legs, but nevertheless, a fox! I tip my hat to you sir. You are definitely on top of your game, so much so, yah felt the need to call me out. But you shouldn't take a knife to a gun fight. Oh, and the split backfield, you're correct again. Our system doesn't use it. Then again Ricky was suspended four games last year and there wasn't much of a chance to implement it. Will Saban ever use it? I don't know. I only hope he is savvy enough to consent the use of a pro style offense with a split backfield on 3rd downs so that Ricky can drag right, Ronnie left, with McMichael or Booker working the middle and Chambers and Jackson/Holmes running deep hooks and posts. Man, we could even roll Culpepper out from time to time thereby incorporating the playaction and screen. Ahh what do I know? I'm just a guy who follows the Dolphins too much. But I know enough not to take a six shooter to kill seven men. The football knowledge is all free TMFT, the life lessons I may have to charge you for.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Armando Salguero said...

I'd be more impressed by cubanculebra if he could indeed kill seven men with a six-shooter.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous TMFT said...

cc.. u r correct. It takes great intelligence to evaluate a player based on the opinion of his agent "a faster TO". I simply thought that he would not play nearly as physical as TO because I have never seen him man handle a defender the way TO has. Being a UF alum, and watching most every game they have played since '95, I don't think I need "specialized video" to see him do against COLLEGE players what TO did with a damaged wheel in the superbowl (and countless other ocassions). Cromartie is coming off an injury, and it will take him time to return his game to form(on the field). It is in my opinion that you draft the best player available. while I am sure that their will be excellent players drafted below him, AC is talented, and the draft is impossible to predict(no crystal ball). Ricky was out 4 games. After his return, we listened for weeks as coach Saban planned to use both backs together. He did. How did that work out? Or were you too busy talking to pay attention? By the way, how did your crystal ball know that teams will "DEFINITELY have a hard time out scoring us"??? Maybe you just ran through the plays you described using Tecmo Bowl. Hopefully some of your "savvy" game planing will find its way to Saban. Gee, if he had your brains we might have won the whole thing last year.

12:41 PM  
Blogger CubanCulebra said...

HEY PAL, DON'T KNOCK TECMO SUPER BOWL! THAT'S JUST CROSSING THE LINE, MAN! AND I'M NOT HAVING ANY OF IT! OK BUDDY?! Anyways, it was Madden I ran the plays through AND THEY WORKED JUST FINE my friend. If Saban played Madden he'd understand the value of going for it on most fourth down situations relative to the amount of sneak 2-point conversion plays used from a vanquish your opponent standpoint. And Armando, that a way to alienate the few and far in between blog readers you have. How's about I lend you the six-shooter and you can use each one of the full metal jacket's to kill the remaining ones. For the bodies to total six when you're done, THAT would be impressive.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Armando Salguero said...

Actually, CC, the blog is a big hit. And I see you're nose-deep in it (several times a day) so I must be doing something right.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Dolfan Bill said...

You go get 'em, AS. Don't take no crap from the draftnerds.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous TMFT said...

cc... I knew you would hit me back. First of all, other than a limited play selection Tecmo is the greatest game of all time!!! Also, I wasn't trying to call you out, just looking for a little spirited discussion regarding the draft(my favorite time of year). Since you post with Cole all the time I know u r interested. Also I definitley would not mind the Fins taking a WR,LB,DL at 16. Saban put us in an excellent position for this draft, hats off. And yeah, those plays do work in Madden.

5:08 PM  
Anonymous TMFT said...

AS, love the blog, As a HUGE draft nerd, I love to be able to communicate w/ someone who has a front row view of the team I have lived and died w/ for so many years.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous TMFT said...

AS, love the blog, As a HUGE draft nerd, I love to be able to communicate w/ someone who has a front row view of the team I have lived and died w/ for so many years.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Armando Salguero said...

Hey tmft, thanks for the props. My goal here is to represent you. I don't go to Dolphins camp to please myself with good writing or just cash a paycheck. I go to find out stuff to deliver it to fans who breathe, eat, and dream Dolphins football. I do not consider myself an expert on every football subject, but I talk to the people who are and that's what I give you guys. Whatever I can do on the beat, let me know through this forum.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Ottawafan said...

First off, last year our pass defense was terrible, even though we have been spoilled the last ten years in that area. In my opinion the only DB that played well was S. Madison, who we foolishly let walk. I understand that he is not getting any younger and is not the player he once was, but he is still good and he signed with the Giants for nothing. Hey, I'm not talking about giving him some long-term expensive contract, but for the amount the Giants are paying him (basically nothing), he is a steal. I think Saban's knock on him was he doesn't come up with any picks anymore, a valid argument until you realize that he went out and replaced him with a corner who makes even fewer big plays in Wil Allen. Allen has never made plays and likely never will. I believe the Dolphins gave a comparable contract to Goodman. Their is nothing good about him. He is a bum. When a team like the Lions, who admit that their secondary is the weak point of their team, let this guy walk without trying to keep him, what does that tell us? Renaldo Hill? Please, even Schulters is better than he is. Listen, I think Saban has done a great job overall, but the secondary he has constructed is the weakest point on the team. If we marched out our current roster, the DBs are worse than last year. We have deffinitely taken a step back this year. Hey maybe Madison couldn't make any big plays because everyone was picking on Howard and the slow footed Daniels. Why go out and sing a corner (R.Hill) who can't hack it and move him to safety when we already have Daniels who is too slow to play corner and is better suited to safety anyways? I find this ironic considering Saban's background is DB's. I think that corner is our area of greatest need. However, I am not really sold on any of the guys this year (except Huff) being worth the 16th pick and that's why I am not opposed to the drafting of either Jackson or S.Holmes. (Just to add fuel to the blog fire didn't "big play Jackson" average 10 yards a catch last year? I know a lot of it is the system he plays and I think he is very good, but it just seems like Holmes turned more short passes into big gains and is better after the catch.)

7:09 PM  
Blogger CubanCulebra said...

Armando, as an overly passionate hispanic, I try to get nose to knee deep in all my endeavors. It's probably the reason I get as much play as I do. But it's all in good humor. I do appreciate your blog and the break you give us fans to post our little and loud complaints/opinions. That said though, I am extremely loyal so you'll never surpass Jason Cole as my ambassador of quan. Tmft, your cool with me bro. You know how to take a joke and you can volley with the best of them. Let us take this opportunity to bow our heads to the Gods of the pigskins and plead for nothing but prosperous prospects come April 29th & 30th.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Armando Salguero said...

CC, you indeed set the bar high for me to aim at. I have now made it my professional goal to replace my friend Jason Cole as your personal ambassador of quan. Give me time, my brother, I won't disappoint.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate people who consider themselves a sports writer whne they are as ignorent as people who think that maimi will ever have a good footbal team. You know nothing about the CFL and the long and storied history it has. Then game has surived and helped devolop football players not only into NFL players but gave them a chance not to be dockworkers since the way idiot American collages get dumbasses (you would fit but you dont look athletic) into school with no ability to read or write. The CFL will be around longer than any maimi sports team and will have true fans something you as a shitty columnist will never have.

12:20 PM  

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