The biggest remaining holes for the Miami Dolphins to fill out in the draft are cornerback and the offensive line. This we know to be true.
Despite the signing of former Atlanta Falcon Brent Grimes, Miami needs to continue to build up its secondary, and the best man for this job available to Miami in the draft is Washington's Desmond Trufant, and not Xavier Rhodes from Florida State.
Dee Milliner might fit the bill, but there's no guarantee that he will be available for Miami with the 12th pick in the draft. It would have to trade up for him, but that would take sacrificing an extra draft pick or two.
The man for the job is Trufant, and it's easy to see why.
Let's start with Miami's defensive system, the zone coverage scheme. What is the zone coverage scheme?
In zone coverage, the defensive backs and linebackers drop into areas on the field and protect those zones against any receivers who enter them. The biggest difference between zone coverage and man-to-man coverage is that in the latter coverage, a defender is concerned only about the player he’s covering. In virtually all zone coverages, two defensive backs play deep (12 to 15 yards off the line of scrimmage) and align near the hash marks.
Here are the main features of zone coverage:
Each defensive back is aware of the receivers in his area, but his major concentration is on the quarterback and reacting to the quarterback’s arm motion and the ball in flight.
For defensive backs, zone coverage is about sensing what the offense is attempting to accomplish against the defense.
Each defensive player reacts when the ball is in the air, whereas in man-to-man coverage, he simply plays the receiver.
These traits to zone coverage eluded Miami's secondary at times, as the secondary had played primarily man-to-man prior to 2012 under defensive coordinators Mike Nolan and Paul Pasqualoni. Kevin Coyle prefers zone coverage in his defense, which is why Miami's secondary looks completely different.
The signing of Brent Grimes helps, but Miami still needs another cornerback that can step in and start in Week 1. Trufant would be the best choice due to him using zone coverage in college, which will make the transition to the NFL game quicker than that of Rhodes, who played man-to-man in college and is spectacular in that kind of defense.
Trufant's college career shows the ability and upside that he has, as he ended his career at the University of Washington starting 47 games while recording 195 tackles, 38 passes defended, six interceptions and three forced fumbles while usually covering the best receivers on the opposing team.
Trufant has the speed and quickness to beat the receiver to the ball, as he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine along with a 20-yard shuttle time of 3.85. His vertical leap clocked in at 37.5 inches, which shows that on 50/50 opportunities he will likely be able to at least keep the ball away from the receiver on a consistent basis.
Clocking in at 6'0", 190 pounds, Trufant also fits the prototype of a cornerback, especially one that can do well in zone coverage, and would likely start for just about any team that drafts him, as many mock drafts have him falling to other corner-needy teams such as the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals.
Trufant shouldn't be allowed to fall that far by the Dolphins though. While I had Jonathan Cooper going first in my latest mock draft, the reality is Trufant fills a hole of similar size on Miami's defense and helps solidify the group as one with the potential to move into the top 10 defenses in the NFL. Trufant's versatility also helps, as he played both on the outside and in the slot while at Washington.
With five picks in the first three rounds, Miami can afford to look toward Round 2 or 3 to fill some of its other needs (and draft another defensive back). But passing on Desmond Trufant in Round 1 would be a mistake that would haunt the Dolphins come next season.