One position of need this off-season for the Miami Dolphins is cornerback. The team already has a couple of unproven players at corner in Will Davis and Jamar Taylor, but I’m not completely sold on either player, as Davis is coming back from a knee injury, and Taylor also has durability issues. The Dolphins could use their 14th overall pick on Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes, but I think the Dolphins will be better off if they address the cornerback position through free agency.
I think the Dolphins should target 49ers free agent CB Chris Culliver, and let me tell you why. First of all, Texans free agent CB Kareem Jackson is not going to be available. I always thought the Texans would resign him, and according to a report from ProFootballTalk (PFT), Jackson is optimistic a deal will get done in Houston. Jackson was quoted as saying, “Everything sounds good as far… they say they want to get something done before free agency actually starts.” The other notable free agent cornerbacks are either too old (Rasheen Mathis is 35, Brandon Flowers is 29) or too short (Sterling Moore is 5’10”).
On the other hand, Culliver is 6’0”, 200lbs and is only 27 years old. He has size and speed, logging a 4.4 in the 40 before becoming the 49ers third round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He played at South Carolina in the SEC, which has produced some good DBs in the past. ProFootball Focus (PFF) ranked Culliver as the 14th overall CB last season, and 6th overall in coverage. He logged four interceptions last season, and he can also return kicks. He came back from a knee injury that sidelined him the entire 2013 season, but bounced back and had a nice season in 2014. Kind of reminds you of a certain Dolphins Pro-Bowl corner, doesn’t he?
Culliver’s then head coach Jim Harbaugh was directly asked about Culliver the day after the team’s win against the Giants last season, in which Culliver logged a 4th quarter interception, and he responded, “A very talented individual. He's playing his best football right now. It's great to see that in his execution, in his effort, in his talent. I just love the competitive nature that he plays with. He competes like a maniac. And he's doing it in a physical way. That's important to our football team - to be physical. And to do that from the corner position is really good.”
Culliver does come with some off the field issues, most notably some homophobic comments he made during Super Bowl XLVII media day. He may not be a choir boy, but you can’t win in the NFL with a bunch of choir boys. Off field issues aside, The Dolphins have to consider that Culliver is young, tall, has a knack for finding the ball, and he is a proven veteran player still in his prime. The 49ers have some other promising DBs on the roster, and likely will not resign him.
The Dolphins went into last season with six cornerbacks on the active roster. That obviously wasn’t enough once injuries caused members of the secondary to start dropping like flies. By the end of the season starting nickel corner Jimmy Wilson was playing nickel corner and safety on non-nickel downs. Adding Culliver will allow Wilson to permanently move to safety (I agree with Armando Salguero's comments regarding Wilson at safety), and let Taylor and Davis compete for the nickel spot. The move would also allow the team to use their first round pick on a wide receiver, guard, or inside linebacker.
This column was written by Carlos Hernandez. Follow him on Twitter: @LosDez