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90-in-90: Miami Dolphins roster breakdowns, CB Tony Lippett

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90 Dolphins players in 90 articles. Let’s make sure we know our roster from top to bottom. It’d be a shame if ESPN knows us better.

Miami Dolphins v San Diego Chargers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

After watching big-bodied WR’s destroy the Miami Dolphins time and time again, I remember thinking to myself when we drafted a 6’3” CB/WR hybrid from Michigan St. to play CB in the 2015 NFL Draft, “What if we can get this tall of a corner to play at a high level?”

Xavien Howard showed promise as a rookie, but his NFL season was shortened by injury. Byron Maxwell had incredible peaks and head-scratching valleys through the 2016 season. Cordrea Tankersley came courtesy of the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Bobby McCain could probably use some competition at nickel CB, but he himself is entering a pivotal 3rd year and could grab the bull by the horns.

Perhaps our least-talked-about CB, Tony Lippett, might turn out to be the best of the group. By the way, he was tied for 11th in the NFL with 4 interceptions in his 2nd year.

Tony Lippett, 6’3”, 194

Lippett certainly has unique height for the position, not to mention a unique skill set informed by his WR/CB background. He understands routes with more perspective.

Game Tape - #36

(Working against AJ Green at the bottom of the screen). Doesn’t bite on the outside jab, gets to an alley on the inside slant. The more he learns nuance near the line of scrimmage, the better. Antonio Brown showed Lippett that he’s still a student in the 2016 NFL Playoffs, but I anticipate Lippett using this as the tutelage of the highest order. Eat or be eaten. I love the way he competes and think the Brown-ass-kicking will be seen in positive aura in hindsight.

Baits Philip Rivers into a throw, not buying the dig and jumping the corner route. I trust you remember how big of a play this was. It’s these types of plays that remind you the hidden benefit of having a background in playing both CB and WR: jumps the route and gets both feet in bounds.

Late in the game, Tennessee had been murdering us on the ground all game. Tony Lippett’s still not afraid to tackle, coming in low, wrapping up DeMarco Murray. One thing I can say with transparency in watching his tape is that he’s not timid in tackling. Does he miss tackles because of poor angles or overzealousness? Sure. But it’s not because he’s afraid of a boo boo.

Why He Might Succeed

He has experience playing and starting in this league, led the team in INT’s in 2016, and remains the tallest CB on the Miami Dolphins roster. Aside from Byron Maxwell, the CB group is incredibly young, and competition will sort out the snaps of Howard, Lippett, and Tankersley. With the confidence of making plays already under his belt, Lippett might be in the best position to “take the next step”.

Why He Might Not

Howard and Tankersley playing out of their mind. This CB group has intrigue because of the size and youth, but unfortunately, someone will have to be the 3rd wheel of the Lippett/Tankersley/Howard group. It’s presumed that Maxwell will be gone after this year, but you can still only start 2 boundary corners. This will be an interesting development over the next year.

Long story short, it’ll be stiff competition among Howard, Lippett, and Tankersley, and there’s every reason to believe they’ll all succeed - except one of them will be on the outside looking in. The 3rd wheel could be Lippett depending on how the cookie crumbles.

Odds of Making Roster

99%. What I’ve seen so far on tape, and what my eyes tell me when I’m watching the game, is that Tony Lippett needs just a pinch more technique, and he’s going to become a part of this nucleus we’re growing in Miami. He doesn’t back away from a challenge, tackles willingly, demonstrates confident body language, and shows increased nuance defending quicker passes, especially in 3 and 5-step drops.

Growing into a 6’3” body at CB and having the short area quickness takes time, but I think Tony Lippett has the attitude and skill set to push for a starting position.