With free agency now well under way and Pro Days going on around the country, dolphins.com continues its series of draft previews with the cornerback position.
Head Coach Adam Gase said during the NFL meetings in Orlando last week that teams can never have enough cornerbacks and it would be a smart move to select one in every single draft if possible.
That said, the Dolphins do have a lot of quality cornerbacks on their roster heading into the final month of evaluations for the 2018 NFL draft. We can start with emerging star Xavien Howard, the 2016 second-round pick from Baylor, who was nothing short of outstanding in the second half of the 2017 season, his performance highlighted by back-to-back two-interception games.
Bobby McCain, who has done most of his work as the nickel corner, also is coming off an impressive season and he drew high praise from Gase at the league meetings. Cordrea Tankersley started 11 games as a rookie third-round pick in 2018 and showed promise, even though he battled the inevitable ups and downs that come with learning the position at the NFL level. The Dolphins roster also features Tony Lippett, who led the team in interceptions with four in 2016 before missing all of last year because of an Achilles injury.
Also on the roster at cornerback are Jordan Lucas, Torry McTyer, Taveze Calhoun, Tracy Howard and Walt Aikens, the special teams ace who has lined up at both safety and cornerback during his NFL career.
THE TOP PROSPECTS AT THE POSITION
Denzel Ward, 5-10, 191, Ohio State — Ward was a part-time starter in 2016 alongside future NFL first-round picks Marshon Latimore and Gareon Conley before he got the spotlight last season. Ward doesn't have great size, but he's got speed, quickness and ball skills. He was a first-team All-American selection by The Associated Press.
Mike Hughes, 5-10, 194, Central Florida — Hughes got to UCF from North Carolina by way of Garden City Community College and made an instant impact at the Orlando school. Hughes ended the 2017 season with four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and also shined as a kick returner (34.1 average with two TDs on kickoffs; 16.6 average with one TD on punts).
Isaiah Oliver, 6-0, 201, Colorado — Oliver is the son of former NFL cornerback Muhammad Oliver, whose two career starts came with the Dolphins in 1994. The younger Oliver is likely to start many games in the NFL after he earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors last fall. Oliver was tied for seventh in the FBS with 1.50 passes defensed per game and had two interceptions.
Josh Jackson, 6-1, 192, Iowa — Jackson didn't emerge as a starter until his final year at Iowa after splitting practice time at wide receiver and cornerback. All Jackson did in his one year as a starter was lead the country in interceptions with eight, the last coming in the Pinstripe Bowl against Boston College.
Carlton Davis, 6-1, 203, Auburn — Davis starred at Miami Norland High before heading to Auburn, where he started as a true freshman. Davis is a physical cornerback with good cover skills. He earned first-team All-SEC honors from the league's coaches last season.
BEST OF THE REST
Jaire Alexander, Louisville — Alexander had a frustrating 2017 season as he dealt with knee and hand injuries, but he had five interceptions as a sophomore in 2016 and is viewed as a potential first-round pick.
Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State — A prospect with an intriguing combination of size and speed, McFadden had eight picks in 2016 before his production fell last season.
Holton Hill, Texas — Another cornerback with a great size/speed combination, Hill's collegiate career ended when he was suspended by Texas for its final three games for violating team rules.