One storyline that has been getting some attention this offseason is whether Miami Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor will take the next step in 2014. A second-round pick out of Boise State in the 2013 NFL Draft, Taylor didn’t live up to expectations of many Dolphins fans across the country. However, were the expectations too high for Taylor, despite the fact that he was rated the third best cornerback in the draft by NFL.com?
If we take a quick look back in history, we see that many cornerbacks struggle their first year before having a breakout year their second. Indeed, the cornerback position is one of the toughest positions to come in and start right away at a high level. One has to learn all of the terminology, the different defenses, different types of coverage zones and all the nuances of receivers they will now face. To get a better idea of how hard it is, let’s look at a few specific players.
According to Pro football Focus, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had an overall grade of -1.8 his rookie year. In his second year, that jumped to +16.8. Patrick Peterson had an overall grade of -10.8 his rookie year, but in his second year, he had an overall grade of +9.3. Brandon Flowers had an overall grade of -5.9 upon entering the league, but that jumped to +18.5 his second year. Darelle Revis had an overall grade of -1.7 through seven weeks his first season, but was given a grade of +21.8 his second year.
These are some pretty good cornerbacks and all of them struggled their first season before having a huge second year. It is extremely important that Taylor takes that next step in 2014 and I think he will. He will be able to solidify that second cornerback slot across from Brent Grimes and help lock down receivers. With Cortland Finnegan most likely manning slot duties and Will Davis waiting in the wings, the Dolphins could have one of the best secondaries in the league.
Taylor wasn’t the third-best rated cornerback in the draft because of luck. At Boise State, he had 132 tackles, seven interceptions and four sacks. As a senior in 2012, he was a first-team All-Mountain West Conference (MWC) selection. The primary reason why he fell to the bottom of the second round was because of a sports hernia injury, which he had surgery on a few weeks after the draft.
Coming out of college, Taylor was described as a complete cornerback. He was one who could play very well in the zone and in press and man coverage. In addition to that, he was very good against the run and is credited with great instincts. One of his knocks is that he is a little small and may not match up well with bigger receivers. In addition, he sometimes gets fooled easily by double moves.
While he’s not going to grow any taller, he can be taught by veterans such as Grimes and Finnegan the different nuances of the game and various techniques. Having those two in the same room with him, along with newly-signed Louis Delmas, will do wonders for him and help him grow even more.
Last season, Taylor only played in three games and totaled 45 snaps. This was because he battled groin and hamstring injuries throughout much of the season and wasn’t able to practice. From those three games, he had an overall grade of -1.3.
With a full offseason and new veterans to lean on, Taylor should have no trouble coming back in 2014 and making a statement on the field. I expect him to exceed all expectations and become a very good cornerback. After all, history suggests that he has a pretty good chance of making that happen.