If there was a unit out there on our defense that made our LB’s look like they weren’t the worst unit of our defense, it was the secondary, more specifically, the CB’s. Even the once vaunted Brent Grimes had his ups and downs, and there were enough downs (wife Miko included) to wave goodbye to #21, and really leave this CB corps very thin. We got our starter in the Byron Maxwell/ Kiko Alonso trade, in which we swapped first RD placement with the Eagles, moving down from #8, to #13.
At the moment, before the draft, we basically have 2 starters, Byron Maxwell, and it’s clear he prefers the right side of the field, so we’ll have to wait and see how this shakes out, but either way, we have a starter on the perimeter, and we have good ole Bobby McCain, who most likely is our nickel CB who will man the slot WR. Behind Maxwell, we have Jamar Taylor, who has yet to show he can handle the rigors of a full season, let alone a full season as a starter. He has shown flashes of being a legit player, but he has also been roasted and toasted and simply ineffective. We have the promising young WR convert to CB Tony Lippett, who brings some size to this unit at 6’2″ 192. He showed some potential last season, but it’s hard to say how far along this conversion at the moment, and if he’s ready to assume a starting role. My guess is he’s still a work in progress. We also have CB/S Walt Aikens, who also has good size at 6’1″ 205, and he will be working at both CB and S in training camp and pre season games, and I suppose they will try to lock down where he’s best.
Although I’m not at all pleased with the depth at LB, certainly not the 3 they intend at the moment to line up opening day if no further moves are made, Jenkins WOLB, Alonso MLB and Misi SLB. If the only change we’re going to make to a unit that couldn’t get out of their own way, but gladly stepped aside for opposing RB’s and TE’s is Kiko Alonso, who has yet to regain the form (and health) he enjoyed his rookie season in Buffalo, which now is 3 years removed at the start of the new season. I know some of you, and you know who you are, feel comfortable with this setup, but I remember how awful we were last year, and simply swapping Alonso for Sheppard doesn’t cut it for me.
Back to the CB’s. Here are some of the guys available to us in the 2016 NFL Draft that can come in and be a perimeter starter right away, which is precisely what we need!
There’s a chance that Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves III will still be there at pick #13. Hargreaves may be the best all around CB in this draft. He’s not a big CB for today’s standards at 5’10” 204, and he’s not blazing fast either, running a pedestrian 4.5 in the 40. He is however, a true cover corner, and he has elite skills in that regard. He is a very competitive player, and he would surely be starting for the Dolphins this season if we draft him. Hargreaves 39″ vertical is outstanding, so he can get up there to compete for the ball with bigger receivers. His 3.98 in the short shuttle shows he has that quick twitch speed and burst, a must for a good CB, perimeter or slot.
Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander is another possibility. Alexander is a fiery, confident player at CB who was rarely challenged. You might be concerned that he has zero INT’s, but when a guy doesn’t get thrown at very often, that sometimes is the result. Mackensie is similar in size to Hargreaves at 5’10″190. Again, not one of those big CB’s, and he his pro day numbers are also similar to Hargreaves, 4.47 40, 37.5″ vertical, a 4.21 short shuttle, which is not as quick as Hargreaves.
I know some folks on this blog (and others) are in love with this CB, Houston’s William Jackson III. Jackson is a little taller than the previous 2 at an even 6’0″ 189. A little more of a wiry frame than the previous 2, but a very good prospect nonetheless. Very smooth operator, Jackson also has the elite speed for a CB. His 4.37 at the combine was one of the best, but oddly enough, at his pro day, he ran the short shuttle at 4.32, which seems odd, considering his fast 40 time, and his impressive 6.86 in the cones drill. Jackson led all of college football in passes defended, with 5 INT’s and 23 pass break ups. Impressive!
There are a few other prospects that will be in play, but in my mind, these are the 3 guys that I think we might target to be our starter. Other CBs we may be interested in are Miami’s Artie Burns, Baylor’s Xavien Howard, Alabama’s Cyrus Jones, Northern Iowa’s Deiondre Hall, and Virginia’s Maurice Canady. There are actually more, but these are the ones that hit me today. Feel free to discuss and add more to the list!