• Fins cut Grimes Fins cut Grimes The Fins release CB Brent Grimes, freeing $6.5 million in cap space
  • Mario Williams signed Mario Williams signed DE Mario Williams signs a 2 years deal with the Fins
  • Fins trade for CB Maxwell Fins trade for CB Maxwell Fins swap 1st round picks with the Eagles for CB Maxwell and LB Alonso
  • Adam Gase hired Adam Gase hired Coach Gase was hired as head coach of the Dolphins


AFC East Positional Grades – DBs

4) Buffalo Bills
It will be up to DC Mike Pettine to fix a secondary that has consistently underachieved. Pro Bowl FS Jarius Byrd (76 tackles, 5 INT’s, 4 FF’s in 2012) received a $6.9 million dollar franchise tag, and might be the NFL’s best at 26 years old. CB Stephon Gilmore showed the athleticism and body type that made him a Top-10 pick in the 2012 draft, and could be a star under Pettine’s guidance. The Bills re-signed CB Leodis McKelvin (#11 pick in the 2008 draft) to a modest 4-year, $17-million dollar contract in hopes that he’ll remove the bust tag. The team is high on third-year SS Da’Norris Searcy (5-11, 216) despite having only 3 career starts. FS Aaron Williams will move to FS, where he is a better fit, after a dismal 2012 season at CB. Nimble-footed Justin Rogers is a solid #3 CB who appeared in all 16 games last season. 4th and 5th round rookies Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks will likely make the team and challenge for starting roles in 2014.
Grade: C+

3) Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have dramatically improved this position if free-agent CB Brent Grimes regains his 2010-2011 form, which appears to be the case thus far a. SS Reshad Jones (ranked #3 by PFF among all safeties) is a rising star who emerged into a complete player with a team-high 4 INT’s. FS Chris Clemons is a serviceable center fielder who needs to make more big plays than he allows. CB Richard Marshall, who played poorly in 4 starts before landing IR last season, could struggle to keep his starting job in 2013 with rookies Jamar Taylor and Will Davis expected to nip at his heels. Veteran CB’s Dimitri Patterson, Nolan Carroll, and R.J. Sanford likely will battle for the final CB spot.. Depth at safety is an issue with Jimmy Wilson and 7th round rookie Don Jones as the front-runners to back up Jones and Clemons.

2) New York Jets
The Jets are still in good shape at CB despite the loss of Darrelle Revis. Antonio Cromartie earned a well-deserved Pro Bowl berth as the team’s top CB for one reason: consistency. 1st round pick Dee Milliner is a big, strong, well-coached CB who should play 10 years in this league. Milliner’s arrival will force Kyle Wilson into the slot, where he should be one of the NFL’s best in that role. Dawan Landry replaces older brother LaRon Landry, who signed with the Colts (4-years, $24-million) after making his first Pro Bowl with the Jets last season. Dawan isn’t the athlete LaRon is, but is a pro’s pro who didn’t miss a start in the last 4 years with the Ravens and Jaguars. FS is a concern with second-year players Josh Bush and Antonio Allen battling it out despite combining for only one start last season. Ellis Lankster should make the team as the #4 CB, too.
Grade: B-

1) New England Patriots
The Patriots secondary embodies Belichick’s two philosophies: 1) Bend, but don’t break. 2) Force turnovers. CB Aqib Talib was inconsistent after arriving in a mid-season trade with the Bucs, but has significant upside (19 career INT’s and 4 TD’s at only 27 years old) and should improve after a full year in the system.. Talib’s arrival allowed the Pats to move Devin McCoutry from CB to SS, where he is a better fit with his ball-hawking skills (5 INT’s in 2012). 33-year-old Adrian Wilson, who has played the last 12 seasons with the Cardinals, should have enough gas left in the tank for one more productive year. was signed Second-year CB Alfonso Dennard was a 7th round steal last season, and will enter the season opposite Talib after pulling down 3 INT’s in 7 starts as a rookie. There is intriguing depth among the backups: S Tavon Wilson led all rookies with 4 INT’s a backup role, #3 CB Kyle Arrington had 7 INT’s in 2011, and CB Ras’I Dowling was the first pick of the 2nd in the 2011 draft who is in need of a healthy season. The Patriots also drafted a pair of Rutgers DB’s in the 3rd round in CB Logan Ryan and S Duron Harmon.
Grade: B-

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AFC East Positional Grades - DBs, 4.3 out of 5 based on 4 ratings
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Brian Catanzaro

Brian Catanzaro

I cram as much Miami Dolphins data as possible into one click. Listen to my Tuesday Night Podcast "On The Fin Side" with Brian Miller and Paul Picken and follow me on Twitter @BrianCat13.

8 Responses to AFC East Positional Grades – DBs

  • Brian Catanzaro

    James – I give the Pats secondary the nod because of their proven ability to force turnovers, even if they give up a ton of yardage. Talib came over in a mid-season trade with the Pats, and should be better with a season under his belt. This also allowed them to move McCourty to FS, and they signed SS Adrian Wilson this off-season as well. CB Kyle Arrington had 7 INT’s in 2011, S Tavon WIlson had 4 INT’s last year. They also drafted a CB (Logan Ryan) and a S (Duron Harmon) in the 3rd round.

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  • Nice article.

    I recently read an article ranking Miami’s safeties, Jones and Clemons, the best starting pair in the NFL (link below). Huh?! Their statistics are fairly solid, but I think this is an example of statistics not telling the whole story, especially where Clemons is concerned. I haven’t had a chance to go through team by team and evaluate the other safeties.

    However, for the sake of argument, IF true (and I’m not sure it is) AND Grimes is back to form playing with a chip on shoulder, Miami’s defensive backfield just might be the best in the division.

    Of course, as we’ve discussed many times on the forums, how much pressure the front 7 can get on the QB helps the DBs quite a bit. If Jordan/Vernon and Wheeler/Ellerbe can help Wake apply more consistent, game changing pressure I think the DBs will look a lot better, especially if they can hold onto the ball when they get their hands on it (a notorious flaw of Sean Smith’s).

    I understand the tempered enthusiasm, but if the defense plays up to it’s potential the pass defense should be considerably improved this year.

    article: http://phinphanatic.com/2013/06/27/miami-dolphins-safety-duo-nfls-best/

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    • Brian Catanzaro

      Mike – The article you’re referring to was written by Matt Miller. Although I respect Matt, you’re right, I can’t put Clemons/Jones as the best safety tandem in the league ahead of Earl Thomas/Kam Chancellor, Dashon Goldson/Mark Barron, and Ed Reed/Danieal Manning. Miller referred to Clemons as one of the best young FS’s in the game, and I view him as serviceable at best. If Grimes returns to his 2010 form and doesn’t start showing age (30) and Jamar Taylor plays well, the Dolphins secondary should be B or B+ instead of a C+.

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  • James Lancaster

    Gotta disagree with you on the Pats. Their pass defense was ranked worse last year than Miami’s was….and Taliq had his share of problems.

    He gave up a 66% completion percentage against opposing QBs last season, and QBs also averaged a passer rating of over 100 against him.

    I think Miami’s pass defense has gotten a lot better, but I understand the grade…..they need to prove it. But that applies to the Pats as well, and they haven’t proven it.

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    • Brian Catanzaro

      James – I give the Pats secondary the nod because of their proven ability to force turnovers, even if they give up a ton of yardage. Talib came over in a mid-season trade with the Pats, and should be better with a season under his belt. This also allowed them to move McCourty to FS, and they signed SS Adrian Wilson this off-season as well. CB Kyle Arrington had 7 INT’s in 2011, S Tavon WIlson had 4 INT’s last year. They also drafted a CB (Logan Ryan) and a S (Duron Harmon) in the 3rd round.

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      • James Lancaster

        I could use the same argument about Miami….who signed Grimes and then drafted Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. And Jones had a great year last year…should be improved this year.

        Taliq could be improved….just as Grimes could return to preinjury greatness. But counting on rookies, or on added veterans is still not a sure thing.

        Sorry, but in my book, the Pats secondary is their weakness on defense (until proven otherwise) and I can’t seeing giving them a grade higher than Miami’s. Especially when you consider that the Fins gave up 18 passing TDs and 3974 yards passing, and New England gave up 27 TDs and 4342 yards passing.

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        • Brian Catanzaro

          And you’re entitled to that opinion, JL.

          Grimes has been impressive in OTA’s to this point, and the Dolphins would be #1 on this list with a B if you told me Grimes would play to his 2009-2010 form. But Grimes’ recovery from injury is only one hurdle for him: he has missed 22 of the last 23 NFL games, turns 30 in 2 weeks, and is with a new team under a new Defensive Coordinator. His OTA performance was promising, but his 2013 success cannot be assumed based on these variables.

          What also drags down the grade for the Dolphins.. is that Marshall was flat out awful in his 4 games last year before going on IR. Jamar Taylor and Will Davis are rookies, so I can’t assume their success either.

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          • James Lancaster

            I’m not disputing the grade on the Fins….I understand it completely. My argument is that you need to hold the Pats to the same standard.

            Miami has a lot of question in their defensive backfield…..so do the Pats. You cannot question whether Grimes will return to health or the Fins’ rookies will preform, yet give a pass to the Pats for their rookies and Taliq, who was terrible last year. It goes both ways and all are question marks.

            I look at it this way, Miami was 6th last season in TD passes allowed….the Pats were 22nd.

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