There is no greater teacher than experience.
When the Miami Dolphins drafted Tony Lippett in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft, it was with the intention of converting him from a wide receiver to a cornerback, a long-term project that should have taken years.
But certain circumstances forced the team's hand, and Lippett was forced into a starting role before he was prepared to take on the responsibility required of a starting boundary corner.
However, instead of crumbling under the pressure, Lippett rose to the occasion, making 67 tackles and a total of four interceptions in 2016. Paired with his promising film, it seems that the Dolphins got lucky with Lippett, as he blossomed rather than burned after being thrown into the fire, and now the 24-year old corner is looking to become even more of a natural.
“I’d like to get more comfortable and having that experience of last year of going through what I went through – and kind of being thrown in the fire – I think helped me." Lippett said on Wednesday. "Looking back on it, I didn’t really have a choice to respond any other way. It (was) basically, ‘Alright, get out there and play. That’s what you have to do; it’s your job.’ I try to take what was given to me and try to make plays the best way I can to help this team win. Now looking back at it, (I) learn from every game and learn situations and things like that.”
Lippett now has to prepare for a competition for the starting boundary corner position between himself, veteran Byron Maxwell, and fellow promising youngsters Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley. As the only player without a significant background at corner, he is at a bit of a disadvantage, but he looks forward to the challenge nonetheless.
“It’s competitive now. I feel like it’s going to be competitive in training camp. It’s competitive now." Lippett said. "We all mess with each other a lot. We’re cool with each other. We help each other out a lot. We’re our hardest critics on ourselves. We push each other every day to make plays. One guy makes a play, we’re all getting hyped. That’s just how we are. (It is a) competitive room, but we all got each other’s backs at the end of the day.”
One player who likes what he's saying from the young corner is Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones, who had high praise for the former Michigan State prospect.
"Tony Lippett is playing probably the best ball he’s been playing." he said. "I think we can be special. We’ve got the ball rolling in the right direction, we’ve just got to continue to put the work in and make it happen.”
Things didn't go as planned with Lippett, but the results aren't exactly something to object to. Being thrown into the fire forced him to develop quickly, and now he's ready for the challenge coming up.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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