The Tower of Power horn section was formed in Oakland, California, by Emilio Castillo and Rocco Prestia in 1968. They’ve appeared with numerous bands over the years, ranging from Aerosmith to Santana and many others.
Here in Miami, almost from the day he arrived as a second round pick out of the University of Baylor, right cornerback Xavien Howard’s play has been unmatched, unparalleled and unsurpassed by just about anyone in the NFL. Having already notched eleven interceptions in just 34 games as a starter, he’s easily Miami’s best corner since at least the days when Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain patrolled the Dolphins’ secondary in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Other than Tom Brady, Howard could very well be the best player in the AFC East, and since Miami has a history of letting good corners leave in free agency, several of whom have gone on to have even greater success elsewhere (Troy Vincent, Sean Smith, etc), the Dolphins were smart to extend his contract this past offseason, rather than waiting another year, when he would have almost certainly commanded much more. As if we needed any more proof of just how challenging it is to evaluate college players, and project their future success in the National Football League, just four of thirty two players selected in the second round of the 2016 draft have made the Pro Bowl; Howard is one of them. It’s a good thing the Dolphins didn’t select Eli Apple, who went tenth, in the first round, to the New York Giants, or William Jackson III, selected twenty fourth by the Cincinnati Bengals. Both players have fallen woefully short of expectations, and Apple was traded to New Orleans last October.
Born in Houston, Texas, on July 4th, 1993, Howard attended Wheatley High School, one of the toughest and most underperforming high schools in the nation. As of 2007, more than 40% of incoming freshmen failed to make it to their senior year. Howard was a star on the school’s football team, however. Perhaps one reason for his success at reading quarterbacks is that he played the position at Wheatley, as well as cornerback.
Rebuilding the roster of any sports team is a whole lot easier if you’ve got at least one bonafide superstar on your team, and the Dolphins have one in Xavien Howard. You can be sure that head coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier will move quickly to shore up the corner position on the other side of the field, and signing Eric Rowe was a good start. The biggest reason for the Dolphins’ lack of success in recent years is not necessarily the lack of a franchise quarterback. Lots of teams don’t have franchise quarterbacks, and many of them still manage to qualify for postseason play. Heck, some of them even win Superbowls. The single biggest reason for Miami’s mediocrity today is the same reason they were mediocre during much of Dan Marino’s career: trying to use great players to cover up bad players. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link; as they say in baseball, if you’re a bad fielder, the ball will find you. With a new coaching staff and a renewed emphasis on defense that had been missing in recent seasons, here’s to hoping that Xavien Howard continues his ascent into the pantheon of great NFL corners, as the team improves around him.
Speaking of Baylor, Howard’s teammate at the school, defensive lineman Shawn Oakman, was projected by many to be drafted in the first round in 2016. However he had a serious criminal case against him that was still pending, resulting in his not being drafted or signed by any NFL team. He was recently acquitted of that charge, and I have recommended, via email, to team owner Stephen Ross, that the Dolphins consider bringing him in for a tryout. He’s currently playing in the Arena league, and at 6’9, 285 pounds, he would seem to be a candidate for the 3-4 alignment Miami will almost certainly use under Flores. Hey, I’m no different than any other fan here; I want to see the team improve by any means available. If the kid is in football shape and has his head on straight, it can’t hurt to take a look at him. That’s the wrap for today, have a great week, everybody.