Three Miami Dolphins rookies showed big-time play-making abilities during the team’s off season training activities. Cornerback Sean Smith from Utah, safety Chris Clemons from Clemson, and wide receiver Patrick Turner from USC all turned heads in the south Florida heat.
We will break down every key player and each important aspect of the 2009 Dolphins as their September 13 opener at Atlanta quickly approaches. This breakdown focuses on the rookie who just might find himself face-to-face with Roddy White, reading Matt Ryan’s eyes, and jamming Tony Gonzalez in the Georgia dome.
The Dolphins signed Smith to a four-year deal today, that guarantees the second-round pick nearly $1.4 million. It puts him in position to compete for a starting spot in the secondary.
The word "freak" is thrown around too many times these days, but that is exactly what Sean Smith is—he is 6'3½" and 214 lbs. He's a cornerback, not a safety. They don’t grow corners this tall, strong, and fast—it must be that clean Salt Lake City living.
Dolphins' observers and coaches alike say they haven't seen a physical specimen at cornerback like Smith. His strength allowed him to jam and frustrate the Dolphins' wide receiver at the line of scrimmage in the offseason. His height was even more menacing, as he knocked down and intercepted ball after ball in the spring.
Even though the converted wide receiver is still learning the corner spot, his natural instincts have been as impressive as his raw skill.
Why is it so encouraging that the Dolphins are ahead of schedule with their grooming of Smith? Well, the division rival Buffalo Bills brought some tall, wide receiver named Terrell Owens whom you might have heard of. Meanwhile, the Patriots' future Hall of Fame wide receiver, another tall guy, Randy Moss, eagerly awaits the return of Tom Brady. I mentioned future Hall of Famer, right?
Nobody is saying that Sean Smith is ready to go toe-to-toe with Moss or Owens, or even Chansi Stuckey for that matter. They are saying he has a chance to start opposite Will Allen, and will definitely be on the field a lot this year.
He diagnoses screens quickly, and loves to hit. Smith definitely grasps what receivers are doing to attack the coverage.
The fact that he is extremely confident in his abilities compliments his off-the-chart measurables very well.
He is a little slow out of his back pedal and like many rookies he wastes too much motion. The Dolphins' coaches can coach him on those deficiencies, but they need to do it quickly, because Owens and Moss are waiting.