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Byron Jones, Xavien Howard ranked among top ten cornerbacks in NFL

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New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Miami Dolphins fans know the team’s defensive secondary in 2020 could be dominating. The addition of Byron Jones to a cornerback room that already includes Xavien Howard should scare opposing quarterbacks each and every week. Do you throw towards Jones, who blankets his coverage responsibility, or do you throw toward Howard, who ball hawks beautifully? And that is without adding in the potential of players like Nik Needham, Jamal Perry, and rookie Noah Igbinoghene. Plus, the team could see Codrea Tankersley return from an injury that has sidelined him for nearly two years. Plus, the team could always look to move safeties Eric Rowe or Bobby McCain back to cornerback if they feel the need.

The Dolphins have a ton of options at cornerback, dominated by Jones and Howard. While fans of other teams may not know what Miami has built in the secondary yet, some analysts are starting to see the potential domination of the unit.

On Wednesday, CBS Sports’ Patrik Walker posted a ranking of the top ten cornerbacks in the league.

Included in the article are also the safety rankings, with no Dolphins player making that list. Sadly though, there is the “what could have been” moment with Walker ranking Minkah Fitzpatrick as the second best safety in the league.

On the cornerback list, Howard comes in at number eight. Walker writes:

Howard is key to what Brian Flores is building in Miami.

The 26-year-old and former second-round pick is one of the best in the league at what he does, and it’s not up for debate. Howard is only a season removed from having seven (!!) interceptions, which followed up a previously career-best four in 2017, and quarterbacks only completed 52.4 percent of their passes in 2018 when they targeted him. Howard saw his INT tally dwindle to only one in 2019, yes, but that was due to a knee injury that landed him on injured reserve and not because he’s a flash in the pan. He’s a cornerstone player any team would be lucky to have, but one the Dolphins plan on keeping for a long time.

Howard alone would be a great piece around whom you can build a defense. But then you add Jones, who comes in at number six on the list. Walker writes:

Jones is the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history, but some can’t figure out why that is.

Allow me to help by pointing out, as stated previously in this list, while interceptions are celebrated — for good reason — when an elite corner lacks them, it’s time to do some digging to find out why. The Dolphins know the reason, and that’s why they had no problem giving him a historic contract, and the Dallas Cowboys know why as well — although their purse strings were too tight to put them in his free agency conversation after having spent a first-round pick on him five seasons ago. The bottom line is Jones was coached to cover and not take away the ball, but his time at UConn proved he can do both.

He routinely shuts down half of the field and is rarely thrown at, as evidenced by permitting just 6.2 yards (!!) per target in 2019, making the tandem of Jones and Howard a lethal one in Miami.

A lethal secondary in Miami - the only team to have two players appear on the list. Opposing quarterbacks are going to struggle throwing against the Dolphins this year.