Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
2013 Miami Dolphins Secondary
CB Brent Grimes
SS Reshad Jones
FS Chris Clemons
CB Dimitri Patterson
CB Nolan Carroll
CB Will Davis
S/CB Jimmy Wilson
CB Jamar Taylor
S Kelcie McCray
CB R.J. Stanford
CB Don Jones
This position was a tough one to grade because there are two elements in the base secondary that are below average and two elements of the same that are above average. To me, that makes for an average base grade.
However, the nickel secondary needs to figure heavily into the grade as nickel defense makes up about half of the defenses that NFL teams play during games. There are three elements of the nickel secondary that are above average, versus two that are below average.
This would tend to lean me toward an above-average grade for the Miami Dolphins secondary. However, the depth players in the secondary are collectively below average, and this counters some of the advantage the team possesses in the nickel package.
Though he had some nits during the preseason game against the Buccaneers, free-agent signing Brent Grimes has given every indication that he will be a positive, game-winning player at corner for the Dolphins in both the base and nickel packages. Additionally, Reshad Jones was an excellent strong safety in 2012 and hopefully will continue his performance in 2013.
Things start to get a little hairy after those two. In base packages, the starting corner opposite Grimes will be Dimitri Patterson, whose record and tape in Cleveland strongly suggest he could struggle as a perimeter corner on the boundary of the field. When the Dolphins go into their nickel package, Patterson will slide inside to the slot. At that position, he is an above-average player.
The team also has Chris Clemons at free safety, and though his weaknesses were not properly exploited in 2012, I believe he is a player that defenses could test in the deep areas of the field. He is a positive force in run defense because of his blazing speed and ability to contain the damage of big runs once players break into the second level.
However, if you get him into the open field and give him a 50/50 situation where he needs to break down against a player that has a two-way go, Clemons can struggle in those situations. I also believe he could struggle to find the ball in deep passing situations if the defense is able to isolate him in coverage.
The depth in the secondary is generally poor. The best backups are two rookie corners Will Davis and Jamar Taylor.
Taylor missed much of the preseason and training camp battling hernia issues and is almost a complete unknown. He struggled during the preseason games in which he did play. Will Davis had very strong performances during training camp but followed up with a very uneven preseason in which he gave up big plays.
Ultimately it is well to remember that even talented corner prospects tend to struggle and be game-losing factors when they are rookies. Yet, they are the team's best backup players in the secondary. The other backups are even worse.