How does a team like the Miami Dolphins get its hands on an NFL-ready cornerback?
It’s a desperate question in this time of specific need. With the 13th overall pick in the draft, the Dolphins really ought to be looking at corner first, but it’s a quirky position.
Four cornerbacks were drafted in the first round last year. The first one taken, Trae Waynes at No. 11 overall, started just one game as a rookie for Minnesota. He may be good in time.
Two others, Kevin Johnson (No. 16 overall to Houston) and Byron Jones (No. 27 to Dallas) started 11 games each and did just fine in on-the-job training at a very scary spot on the field.
The best of them all, however, was the one with the most red flags.
Marcus Peters, drafted 18th overall by Kansas City, picked up an interception on the first snap of his first NFL regular-season game. In his second game he picked off a Peyton Manning pass and returned it for a touchdown. And so it continued all season long.
Peters intercepted eight passes, tying Reggie Nelson for the league lead, and returned two of them for scores. His reward was a trip to the Pro Bowl as the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Who knew to expect all of that from a guy who got kicked off his college team at Washington for repeatedly clashing with coaches? In a pre-draft scouting report on NFL.com, one unidentified NFC personnel director was quoted as saying “I wouldn’t take him inside the first two rounds. He’s good, but he’s not that good that I would be willing to deal with his emotional issues.”
Hey, sometimes they get it wrong. The point is, cornerback is a very nervous place to be spending your first-round pick, even when it is absolutely necessary.
The Dolphins got immediate starters out of first-round corners Don McNeal (1980), Troy Vincent (1992) and Vontae Davis (2009) and earned a real bonus by taking Sean Smith in the second round of that same 2009 draft.
Jamar Fletcher is the flip side of the coin from 2001, but that’s when the Dolphins were good and picked near the end of the first round. The more certain stuff is usually gobbled up by then.
Picking at No. 13 means you better get somebody you can use right now. It’s more pressure than Miami or any other team needs because cornerbacks and their potential are so difficult to read.
Pro Bowl corner Brent Grimes, now in Tampa Bay, did enough in just a few seasons at Miami to get voted onto the Dolphins’ 50 greatest players list for 50 years of franchise history.
He originally went undrafted out of Shippensburg in 2006 and had to play a year for the Hamburg Sea Devils of NFL Europa before getting his first real NFL shot.