Oh here in Miami, fans should definitely be doing the safety dance. This is easily the best collection of safety talent in quite some time. In 2011, we had Yeremiah Bell and Reshad Jones, but Reshad was just getting his career started at that point. This is now the best unit on this team. I know Minkah Fitzpatrick is just a rookie, but I think you can throw out the typical rookie plan, this kid is special, and and he’s not going to be overwhelmed by anything he sees in the NFL. He was used like a pro at Alabama, exposed to just about everything playing multiple positions and assignments at Alabama. Nick Saban said he was his best player, and he could handle anything, and that’s high praise indeed. We know what Reshad is, he’s a playmaker who can make things happen against the run or pass. T.J. McDonald didn’t get a full shot here because he was suspended for 8 games, but this former Rams strong safety can lay the wood, and has had over 100 tackles in a season. The talent drops off after the super trio, but maybe this is the year that either Walt Aikens or Jordan Lucas take a step forward, learning from Jones, McDonald and Minkah. Or, maybe Maurice Smith steals the last spot.
Reshad Jones S – 6’1 215 – 30YO
Reshad has done it all as a Miami Dolphins safety. Drafted in the 5th RD (#163) in the 2010 NFL draft, he’s been one of our best draft picks in that time period, if not the best. Annually racks up 100 or more tackles, and has 18 INT’s and 10.5 sacks so far in his career, along with 5 TD’s, 3 on INT returns and 2 on fumble returns. Playmaker! He can play near the LOS, and also has the speed to make plays on the back end. A leader on this team, and one that should hopefully be a career Dolphin.
T.J. McDonald S – 6’2 225 – 27YO
The former Rams Strong safety is a lot like Reshad in that he can play close to the LOS or make plays deep as well. He’s a very good athlete, but hasn’t been anything like the playmaker Reshad has been. Still, he tackles well, and can cover, and can be used like a safety or a linebacker, so he brings versatility. Both he and Reshad can be part of the new formation that’s sweeping the NFL for the last few years, the Big Nickel. That means sometimes deploying a combination of big defensive backs, usually safeties replacing the smaller nickel corner. I look forward to seeing a lot of T.J., Reshad and Minkah on the field together this season.
Minkah Fitzpatrick S – 6’1 202 – 21YO
The great thing about Minkah Fitzpatrick to me is the fact that while playing for Nick Saban, Saban used him in so many different situations, and Minkah succeeded in all of them. He wasn’t just a guy who was versatile enough to play multiple positions, he was excellent enough to do it better than anyone else. That’s the key right there, some guys are versatile, and can do things adequately at a few different things. Not Minkah, he kills it everywhere. We got a taste of what he’s capable of in the very first preseason game. That play where a completion was certain, but Minkah closed with a quick burst and was able to get to the receiver and cause him to drop the football. I saw him making tackles and defending the pass all over the field. good things are coming, no GREAT things are coming for this player.
Maurice Smith S – 6’0 194 – 23YO
Right now, Maurice Smith is 4th on the depth chart, ahead of Walt Aikens and Jordan Lucas. The former Alabama, then Georgia safety was picked up by the Dolphins last season as an UDFA. So far in training camp, according to HC Adam Gase said this of Smith . . .“I think his confidence level is extremely high right now,” Gase said. “He understands the defense. It’s allowing him to play faster.” Whether he can continue to impress remains to be seen. Smith played in 6 games last season for the Dolphins.
Jordan Lucas S – 6’0 190 – 25YO
Lucas was a 2016 6th RD pick (204th). He appeared in 8 games in ’16, and 11 games in ’17 playing mostly special teams. The former Nittany Lion safety is now 5th on the depth chart, and that’s not a great place to be, especially if we only carry 4 safeties. Last year for the most season we carried 4 safeties, but in December we carried 5. If Smith stays ahead of Lucas, Lucas could definitely be on the roster bubble.
Walt Aikens S – 6’1 208 – 27YO
Aikens is really a player w/o a true position. The Dolphins have been shuffling him around from S to CB since they drafted him back in the 4th RD (#125) in the 2014 NFL Draft. in 2015, Aikens started 5 games, but otherwise has mostly been a ST’s player, but has played in almost every game since ’14. He’s show he’s durable, and is a good special teams player, but it seems like at this juncture, he’s no more than that.
So that’s our safety situation. Depending upon how many CB’s and how many WR’s we keep will probably impact how many safeties we choose to keep, and keep in mind that if Aikens is stowed on the CB depth chart, he’s a guy who can also play safety. It’s the top 3 though, that should give Miami Dolphins fans something to really look forward to. Reshad and T.J. are a great tandem as is, so just think how much Minkah elevates the defense? I know I do all the time!