The Miami Dolphins have often boasted a stout defense, but it was still a bit of a surprise to see how good they were at times during the 2012 season. The front seven made it tough for teams to get going on the ground, and Cameron Wake terrorized quarterbacks, notching 15 of the teams 37 sacks.
In the end, the Dolphins finished seventh in league in points allowed and gave up just 108.4 yards a game on the ground. Yet, they were 27th in the league in passing yards allowed, 21st in yards per game, and despite often being in position to make a play, they were 28th in interceptions.
Clearly, the Dolphins needed to make adjustments to their secondary, and just as they did with the receiving corps, Miami made a priority out of transforming their weakness into strength in 2013.
The first change came with the Dolphins’ less than subtle lack of interest in re-signing Sean Smith. Despite there being reason to believe that the Kansas City Chiefs were involved in tampering with Smith before the start of free agency, the Dolphins didn’t even bat an eye. They let Smith walk as if they were glad to see him go.
Miami took their time in finding a replacement, but eventually settled on Brent Grimes, a top-three cornerback in 2011 who missed all of 2012 with an Achilles injury. The questions surrounding his recovery were quickly put to rest as the Dolphins took the field for OTA’s. Grimes was extremely impressive, showing off the skills that made him one of the best corners in the league before his injury, and securing the no. 1 starting position heading into the new season.
The Dolphins’ desire to solidify their secondary was on full display during the 2013 NFL Draft when they used two of their first four picks on cornerbacks. After surprising everyone by taking Dion Jordan with their first pick, the Dolphins went with Jamar Taylor in the second round, and Will Davis in the third.
Taylor is an athletic and physical back that should put up a strong fight for one of the starting positions. He was widely considered a first-round talent, but between the fact that he played in a weak conference and questions surrounding a kidney issue, he fell to the ‘Phins in the second. He will look to prove his worth when training camp starts, granted he is fully recovered from a sports hernia surgery he underwent in late May.
Davis was thought of as a reach when the Dolphins traded up to grab him with their second pick of the third round, yet he stood out during last month’s minicamp. He may be a bit undersized, but at 5-foot-11, 186 pounds, Davis has the ability to become a major contributor at the nickel position.
The no. 2 spot will be hotly contested, but at the moment Richard Marshall appears to have a strong grasp on the starting job. Marshall suffered from back injuries throughout all of last season, and was forced to undergo back surgery. He is coming into this season with a chip on his shoulder, appears to be healthy, and is ready to prove his worth.
The cornerbacks are backed up by an under-appreciated group of safeties. The addition of Grimes alone is a fantastic complement to Rashad Jones and Chris Clemons, and if Marshall can stay healthy or if Taylor lives up to his potential, then the Dolphins secondary will be as strong as their front seven, and maybe even just as stingy.