Reshad Jones signed a four-year deal worth over $29 million in 2013 after a career year in 2012 during which he was one of the best safeties in the NFL. Jones didn't exactly live up to his contract last season producing only one interception, a play that was made when Dion Jordan hit Joe Flacco causing the ball to flutter through the air right into Jones' arms.
Jones decline in play is largely blamed on the LB swap that took place in the 2013 offseason that traded Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby for Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe, which we will come back to that in a later article. But, this swap caused Jones to have to play more one-on-one coverage due to the new LBs lack of coverage ability.
Jones found himself in many situations that played towards his weaknesses, but he also had his fair share of mental errors and bad angles taken.
Louis Delmas was signed this offseason to replace Chris Clemons as the starting FS, though he has stated he views himself as more of a SS. Delmas, a two-time Pro Bowl alternate, had his best season since his rookie year in 2013 and played the full 16-game season for the first time in his career, but even so the Detroit Lions opted to cut him loose to save the money on the contract they negotiated less than one year before the release.
Delmas, as I stated in my CB analysis, has been dealing with injuries nearly his entire career, missing 15 games due to knee issues in his six years in the league. Delmas and the Dolphins hope that these issues are behind him, and the fact that Delmas played the entire season last year bodes well for these hopes.
Jimmy Wilson, also talked about in my CB analysis from yesterday, has been moved back to the FS position yet again. Wilson has spent his entire career switching between FS and CB, but seemed to have found a home as the Dolphins nickel CB. It's not impossible that he will still be that in 2014, but it would likely be barring an injury or lack of development from the young guys.
In the mean time, Wilson is a FS to backup Delmas. Wilson is small, but stocky, and he plays the game with a tenacity that is fun to watch. Wilson will likely see a good amount of the field in 2014 due to injury concerns with both Delmas and Cortland Finnegan.
Michael Thomas provided the highlight of the 2013 season when he intercepted a Tom Brady pass in the endzone to preserve the Dolphins victory over the rival New England Patriots. Thomas was playing CB that game due to an unfortunate slew of injuries that occurred to the CB corps, but he is truly a safety.
Thomas will likely play special teams if he makes the 53-man roster, but can play both CB and safety if the Dolphins find themselves in another unlucky bind.
Jordan Kovacs is currently the only backup to Jones on the roster. This is troubling, as Kovacs has shown he is not very good in his opportunities last preseason. Kovacs didn't originally make the Dolphins 53-man roster last season, but was signed in Week 5 and eventually played in nine games, mainly as a special teamer.
The Dolphins will likely draft a safety in this May's NFL Draft as Delmas is only on a one-year deal and the SS position does not have great depth. Miami will likely not spend a first round pick on a FS unless they feel Alabama's Hasean Clinton-Dix or Louisville's Calvin Pryor will eventually turn into a difference maker.
Clinton-Dix is a big, rangy center-fielder type FS with good ball skills and is widely regarded as the best FS in this class. Pryor is Clinton-Dix's competition for top safety in the class. Pryor is a big hitter at the FS position.
Miami has viable late round options in NC State's Dontae Johnson. Johnson played CB for much of his college career but projects to be a FS in the NFL, a position he played for his last seven games in college. Johnson's imposing size and speed for the position lead many to believe he could develop into a quality starting FS, and he would have time to do so behind Delmas and Wilson.
Brock Vereen, brother of RB Shane Vereen of the New England Patriots, from Minnesota is an interesting late-round prospect the Dolphins could decide to bring in. Vereen has the quickness to play FS combined with the strength to play SS, his natural position.
Vereen is a guy who could backup Jones and eventually contend to start if Jones' play doesn't start to match the money he is making, which leads to becoming a cap casualty.
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