The Miami Dolphins have been in the news lately for all of the moves being made by an aggressive front office. All eyes have been on general manager Jeff Ireland as he has pulled the trigger on several game-changing signings. The majority of the moves have been well received, but now the Dolphins appear to be considering a move that would certainly raise an eyebrow or two.
Miami Dolphins Rumors are heating up about a workout being set up with NFL prospect, Kenny Vaccaro. In most cases, the thought of grabbing the number one rated safety in the NFL Draft would be welcomed with a rousing cheer. For the Dolphins, it would represent the most questionable move of an otherwise admirable off-season.
The reasoning behind this lies in a seemingly innocent re-signing that took place during the height of the Dolphins’ spending spree. This low-key roster move seemed hardly worth mentioning at the time, but the re-signing of safety Chris Clemons kept a promising safety duo in tact. It seemed as though the brain trust in Miami was comfortable with Clemons, and fellow safety, Reshad Jones holding down the center of the Dolphins’ secondary.
Despite their maddening inability to capitalize on turnover opportunities last season, the Dolphins defensive backs were ranked 13th in the NFL when it came to pass coverage. According to Pro Football Focus, this helped the Miami defense to rank as seventh overall last year. The safeties were a major part of these numbers.
Jones may have been the biggest Pro Bowl snub throughout the entire league last season. PFF has him ranked as number three among all NFL safeties, and a look at his weekly breakdown shows the 16-game starter to have been extremely effective in all but two match-ups. Playing in all but five defensive snaps, Jones accumulated 86 tackles (74 solo, 11assists, 1 sack) and had a respectable 21 defensive stops. He was beat for just one touchdown throughout the season, and among safeties with 600 snaps or more, he has the best NFL Rating. The one area he failed to impress was in his missed tackles, where he was guilty of coming up empty 14 times.
Clemons may not have been as accomplished as his counterpart, but he was good enough to be ranked 25th in a field of 87 NFL safeties. His 90 tackles (80 solo, 10 assists) and zero touchdowns helped solidify the center of the field. He allowed just 16 completions on 28 attempts, which is much more than Jones gave up, but still good enough to help him lock down the fifth best NFL rating among safeties with 600 plus snaps.
It is easy to see why the Dolphins re-signed Clemons to a one-year, $2.75 million-dollar contract in early March. The question is, does Ireland and his draft team feel like there is sufficient need at the position to use their first round pick on Vaccaro?
If the Dolphins feel like the safety position is where they need to add the best talent (read highest draft pick), then Vaccaro is their guy. He has tremendous upside and a team in need of a safety should do what they can to snag him early in the first round. Realistically though, the Dolphins are simply not the team in need of a safety.
Last season, the Miami cornerbacks were among the worst in the NFL, ranking 67th (Nolan Carroll), 74th (Sean Smith), and 99th (Jimmy Wilson). Last season’s premiere secondary free agent signing, Richard Marshall, failed to recover from an early season back injury, and therefore failed to make the list.
The corner position is one example of where the number 12 overall pick could be put to better use, and there are several other spots just like that. Using the 12th overall to solidify the safety would undermine much of what good Ireland has managed to accomplish over the last year. Many of the Dolphins faithful would return to viewing him as the blundering idiot, rather than the free agent genius he has recently started to look like..
Hopefully, this is just a case of due diligence, and we never have to find out.