Time to wrap up our positional preivews by looking at the safety position today. It's a position that isn't as great as could be, but could be much worse. And they are led by one of the NFL's best kept secrets:
Yeremiah Bell: 6'0, 200, 4th year
For the first time in his career, Bell will be the starter entering training camp. Last season, Bell replaced Travares Tillman and was a BIG playmaker upon getting the starting gig. In just 11 starts, Bell finished fifth on the team in tackles with 65, second among defensive backs. He also led the team in passes defensed with 12 and recorded 2 sacks.
Bell is a big-time hitter with good, but not great speed. What he also does well is read the play and, when needed, helps out defending the running game. He's also a very good blitzer from the secondary. This year, big things are expected from Bell. In ESPN's position-by-position breakdown of each team, Bell was called one of the most underrated players in the NFL. In Rotoworld's fantasy preview, Bell was ranked the #2 defensive back expected to break out this year. Clearly, this is Bell's make or break season as a starting safety. I expect big things.
Renaldo Hill: 5'11, 190, 7th year
In his first season with the Dolphins last year, Hill picked up a complex defense quickly and played very well. He was third on the team with 83 tackles and had 2 interceptions to go along with 9 passes defensed. Hill possesses good instincts, which help him make up for lack of speed. He also plays a little deeper than most when in pass coverage because of his lack of speed. He isn't an ideal starting safety, as he tends to make some mental mistakes that turn costly.
However, he's the team starting free safety and there isn't anything we can do about it. We just need to hope that, with the exit of Nick Saban, so to is the exit of Saban's complex verbiage of his secondary. Maybe then Hill will have fewer lapses and will be more consistent with his play.
Cameron Worrell: 5'11, 194, 5th year
Worrell comes over from the Bears where he excelled in special teams coverage. He also saw some action at safety, where he tallied 10 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. But he shines on special teams and will likely make the Dolphins simply for that reason. Last year, he tied for the team lead with 28 special teams tackles. Now that's a lot of tackles. Some people think signing Worrell was a useless move. But just wait until you see him flying down the field in kick coverage duty and you'll know why Cam Cameron is pretty high on this guy.
Travares Tillman: 6'1, 205, 7th year
Tillman started the first 7 games of the season before being replaced by Bell. In those 7 games, he had 42 tackles and 3 passes defensed. The thing with Tillman is that, too many times, he looks lost out there. But then there are those plays where he looks like the 2nd round talent that he was coming out of college. If only he was able to stop the mental breakdowns and lower the number of penalties he commits, usually from being out of position, then Tillman could still be a good player in this league. However, already entering his 7th seasonand not getting any younger, it's unlikely Tillman will ever reach the potential he had coming out of school. Still, he could be a valuable bench player since he knows the system well and has some experience. But right now, he's a backup at best.
Chris Harrell: 6'1, 212, 2nd year
Harrell originally went to training camp in 2006 as an UDFA with the Arizona Cardinals. However, he was released prior to the season. This past spring, Harrell played in NFL Europa, where he tallied 48 tackles and tied for the team lead with 2 interceptions. Harrell was never much of an pass defender, only having 1 pick in 4 years at Penn State. He is a good "8th man in the box" type player because he's physical and can hit. However, if he plans on making this team, he'll have to show he can play the pass and play well on special teams.
Courtney Bryan: 6'0, 202, rookie
Bryan comes to camp as another UDFA. He played in college at New Mexico State, where he was a cornerback. As a senior, he tallied 58 tackles, 14 passes defensed, and 4 interceptions. He's a natural athlete. In high school, he played track and basketball to go along with football. He's got good speed and hands but lacks in recognition and instincts, which is why he wasn't drafted and likely won't make the team.
I don't think there is likely to be much to watch at this position in training camp, as it seems pretty cut and dry as to who is going to make the team and who isn't. I guess you could keep an eye on some of the young guys to see if they could surprise, but it isn't likely in my opinion. What I do want to see, though, is how Bell acclimates himself to being the fulltime starter. I expect a great year from him.
Predicted Depth Chart
|1st Team||2nd Team|
|S||Yeremish Bell||Travares Tillman|
|S||Renaldo Hill||Cameron Worrell|