follow me on twitter @craigballard77
The 2009 Miami Dolphins had veterans in their secondary. Yeremiah Bell and Gibril Wilson were vets who played the safety positions for Miami. In the 2009 NFL draft that landscape began to change. The Dolphins drafted Chris Clemons out of Clemson University in the 5th round, and the following draft the ‘Phins drafted Reshad Jones in the 5th round. Fast forward to today and Clemons/Jones are the present and future as Miami safeties.
Clemons was a 3-year starter in college. He was impressive at the combines with his athleticism and speed. For me, his on-field play has been inconsistent and the jury remains out on whether Clemons is a legit starter going forward (or not).
His on-field production has been decent-at-best. He has played safety in 32 games (23 starts). He started 15 games in 2010, but he was a bit-player in 2011 as the ‘Phins tried Tyrone Culver plus the veteran Bell. Both Bell and Culver are gone, but the ‘Phins tried to move CB Jimmy Wilson to the safety position in training camp. Clemons out-played Wilson and re-established himself as the starter.
New defensive Kevin Coyle has a long history of getting good play from his secondary so he is a guy who may be able to develop Clemons’ game. This is a contract year for Clemons so it is now-or-never for Miami to decide if he is their guy long-term to pair with Jones as the safeties.
Clemons is a potentially good centerfield-type of safety. At 6-feet and 200 pounds he has good size, but is not necessarily a heavy-hitter. He does not have a ton of strength. His balls skills need to develop as he is not a turnover threat. In November 2010 Clemons picked-off Oakland Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski and in week 3 of this season he grabbed a pass in the end-zone against New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez. In his 32 games that is all the INTs he has. Clemons has not forced a fumble (or even recovered a fumble) since 2010.
For a guy with his tools/gifts Clemons does not stand out on the field (not with his play anyway…his awesome dreadlocks are easy to spot!). Miami struggles vs pass-catching TEs and WRs who venture over the middle (especially deep) so Clemons needs to improve here.
The Dolphins new regime stresses technique, and Clemons needs to improve his tackling technique. The tools seem to be there, but we do need to see improved play from Clemons in 2012 to justify re-signing him and giving him even more starts going forward.
Thank you for your read
www.rantsports.com/nfl/author/craigballard/ for all of my free/daily Miami Dolphins articles