When Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene was drafted with Miami’s third first-round pick (30th overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft, many were quick to mention that Igbinoghene was relatively inexperienced at the CB position - playing only two years of college ball on defense after playing wide receiver his freshman season. Plenty of folks predicted early struggles for the youngster – only 20 years old at the start of his rookie year – and they were quickly proven right when Igbinoghene was tasked with covering veteran wide receiver, Stefon Diggs, in only his 2nd game as a professional when high priced off-season acquisition, Byron Jones, went down with an injury during Miami’s early-season contest against Buffalo last year. Igbinoghene was roasted for numerous chunk plays and the Dolphins lost the game to the Bills by a score of 31-28.
Igbinoghene took many more lumps throughout the season but managed to have some positive moments as well. Many analysts predicted a significant year-two jump.
Unfortunately, if training camp practice reports are to be believed, that jump has not yet materialized. With Xavien Howard nursing a minor injury, Igbinoghene was given the opportunity to impress his coaches and fellow teammates by lining-up opposite Byron Jones as a boundary corner during training camp. In short order, Noah was replaced by Nik Needham, a 2019 undrafted free agent, who has spent most of his time in the pro ranks manning the slot position. Igbinoghene has been beaten deep consistently during camp, most recently by soon-to-be ex-Dolphin, Isaiah Ford, at Wednesday’s practice on multiple occasions.
Noah Igbinoghene, working with backups, beaten deep by Isaiah Ford on a pass from Jacoby Brissett.— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) August 4, 2021
Nik Needham is now the starting corner opposite Byron Jones. Noah Igbinoghene has been demoted. pic.twitter.com/6WMDCFKvmy— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) August 3, 2021
Patience is a virtue, but Igbinoghene’s stock is clearly on the decline at the moment, which may change the Dolphins’ decision maker’s minds on whether or not to give-in to Xavien Howard’s contract demands. There is still plenty of time for #9 to turn things around and make an impact on this Dolphins team, but with preseason games starting in just 10 days, positive practice reports would be a welcome sight right about now.
So, what do you think? Is it time to panic? Is Noah Igbinoghene on the path to being a draft-day bust, or do you still believe the 21-year-old will turn it around once he grasps the nuances of the cornerback position? Let me know in the comments below! Fins up!