The Miami Dolphins head into the 2017 NFL season with a deep cornerback corps, including Byron Maxwell, Xavien Howard, Bobby McCain, Tony Lippett, and rookie Cordrea Tankersley. The team looks to be in position to develop some younger players into dominant defensive backs, while relying on the experience of Maxwell to lead the unit. But, will it be enough to crack a “top cornerback tandems” list?
NFL Media Analyst and 12-year veteran cornerback Ike Taylor released his top five cornerback tandems in the league on Tuesday, headlining it with Jacksonville Jaguars defensive backs A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. He then followed that with the Denver Broncos’ Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, Jr., (plus Bradley Roby), the New York Giants’ Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple (and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), the Los Angeles Chargers’ Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward, and, finally, the New England Patriots’ Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore.
Can the Dolphins have a tandem break into that group this year?
Early indications - and they are very early - have Howard, entering his second year in the league, showing the potential to become a shutdown cornerback. Maxwell could be mentoring his ultimate replacement in Tankersley, but if either of them can become a complimentary corner to Howard, the Dolphins may have a special set of defensive backs. Could they reach the top five in the league level? Possibly.
Could they reach Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain levels? Okay, that may be a little hyperbole at this point (though not out of the picture...).
If McCain and Lippett can develop into depth as field/boundary corners and establish themselves as nickel options, the Dolphins’ secondary could become a force in the league.
Of course, all of this is speculation, possibility, potential, and “if,” but the fact that the Dolphins could find themselves in the position in a year would be an impressive turnaround for a much maligned (and injured) group over the past several years.