The case for a CB
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.