Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Last Line of Defense, Part 1 - The Safeties

Of all the training camp competitions, the safety position could be the most 'set' position with the fresh contracts being handed out to Yeremiah Bell, Gibril Wilson, and Tyrone Culver and the drafting of Chris Clemons, widely believed to be the top value pick of the Dolphins draft.

But still, Clemons IS a rookie, and guys like Ethan Kilmer and Courtney Bryan might just be 'hungry' enough to push for the final roster spot. There are outlying circumstances as well, depending on special teams, and the development of 'big' cornerbacks like Jason Allen and Sean Smith. It might be possible to only carry three safeties with these bigger body corners allowing for sharper coverage and more speed. So there will still be competition going on in training camp at the Safety position. Here are the bodies:

Yeremiah Bell, # 37.
Bell saved the Dolphins' backsides last year at least twice when he made two final drive stopping pass breakups by the opponent. He also led the team in tackles, and most importantly, he played in all 16 games. The only thing that can stop him now is a relapse in the health category. I'm expecting a pro-bowl-type year from Bell, as he has the confidence boost from last year to actually intercept some of those passes he usually bats down. I also expect there to be more safety blitzes this year and Bell is a likely player in that scheme.

Gibril Wilson, # 28.
I do my best not to watch any Oakland games, but I have caught glimpses of Wilson's play last year. He was a beast against Miami last year, collecting 10 tackles and a sack and had 7 games with double digits in tackles. In a 49-26 loss to New England (we held them to 48-28...we're sooo much better than Oakland), he collected 12 tackles, a sack and an interception, and he did this OFF THE BENCH. The guy has the tools. What we don't know is if he will gel with Bell, and pick up the scheme to the point he's able to not think too much back there and rely on his instincts.

Tyrone Culver, # 29.
Culver was one of our most impressive 'bench' players in 2008 along with Randy Starks. Rarely did I feel unease with him coming in to the game and he did a LOT as Miami frequently played a 3 safety-set with Bell, Hill, and Culver. Culver also rested Bell at strong safety, and played special teams. He is not flashy or a ball-hawk or even a big-hitter. What he is SOLID. Solid all-around.

Chris Clemons, # 30.
Clemons was part of what I called 'an amazing secondary' back in October 2008. In the first month of NCAA football, I had already christened the Clemson bunch as the beastliest of the safety duos, with Clemons and Michael Hamlin just NAILING people and making big plays. Hamlin, however got all the press, as a big, ball-hawking strong safety who also was a media-hound. Meanwhile, the free safety, Clemons, did not rack up huge interception numbers, but he did rack up impressive numbers despite playing next to Hamlin. Clemons also played in 55 straight games and had ZERO injuries in that time. He ran a 4.33 40 yd dash at the combine. He came into the draft ranked as the 3rd best free safety in the draft and was project to go in the 3rd round. I know I, along with a lot of other fans, am very excited to see this guy in training camp and the pre-season.

Courtney Bryan, # 47.
The odds are against Bryan making the roster this year. He is one of the few remaining cogs from the 2007 season, signed as a undrafted rookie, and relegated primarily to special teams. Since our special teams coverage has not been particularly special, and Bryan hasn't been a standout on that crew, I would suspect this is his last chance, really. I can't say I know much about his playing/practice prowess, but he has been burned by several kick returners including that 93 yard punt return against us last year vs the Raiders.

Ethan Kilmer, # 43.
Originally I didn't see any chance that Kilmer was going to make the roster, but thatwas before I found out who he is. I didn't realize at first that Kilmer was actually a wide receiver in College and that he actually played with fellow Dolphin, Cam Wake, at Penn State. He was drafted by the Bengals and he played WR, CB and S during games and practices there. He was injured (thigh) during pre-season in his sophomore year and placed on IR before being released and eventually signed by the Dolphins. So, he did show up and do all kinds of things for the Bengals in his rookie year, then didn't play at all in 2008. Last I heard he was making noise in OTAs, which is more than can be said for ALL of the other safeties in camp. So maybe...who knows?

These are the 2009 Dolphin safeties through training camp. I suspect they will all be kept until the final or at least next to final cuts following the pre-season. With Culver shoring up the 3rd spot, who do you think makes the final cut for the 4th, or do you think the Dolphins will sacrifice one spot in order to keep an extra cornerback?

(Keep in mind, Clemons would never clear waivers)


  1. Top 4. Bryan will be back at Arby's by the regular season and if Kilmer dosen't seriously outplay Clemons by alot he's gone. Even if he does he is not "their" guy so the nod goes to the rook.

  2. ugh I haven't eaten at an Arby's since 9th grade...

  3. Tough decisions to be made! But its good to finally have to make these kind of tough decisions.  Much better than picking up scabs off the street mid season and plugging them in the next week like we did in 07! How many safeties did we go through? 9 or something?

    My crystal ball says that at the end of camp (barring injuries) we will still have Y. Bell, G. Wilson, Chris Clemmons.  If we keep 4 then we will probably keep E. Kilmer because of position flexibility.  The trifecta like multi-taskers and he can play corner in a pinch.  I think they will probably go with 3 and keep J. Allen on as a C.B. because in a pinch he can also play safety.  I am REALLY hoping that J. Allen as a spectacular break out camp.  He is a ball hawk. (5 ints in 3 years playing off the bench.)  He is a physical specimen and a pretty good ST player.  The biggest knock on him is that he is "dumb" / cant pick up the playbook.  I am not an apologist, but he has been jerked back and forth more than a yo-yo and has had to learn 3 different playbooks / positions in 3 years. I am still holding out hope.  People said he sucked last year going against R. Moss, but who IS good covering Moss? I think he did a pretty good job.  I know for a FACT that one of the big "burn" plays that Moss had on Allen last year was offensive pass interference. OBVIOUS push off that didn't get called because the Refs couldn't see it with Bellacheats pubes in their face. (yes that is a man on man felatio reference) I think J. Allen knows it's Sh*t or get off the pot this year and we will see a focused, physically ready player when he hits the feild.

    So again, I think it's going to be Y.B., G.W., C.C. with J.A. as back up C.B. / Safety.  Call me crazy but keep this entry so I can say told you so in October.

  4. You're crazy. Culver is in...unless he's trade bait?

  5. Why sign him just to trade him?  He was already under contract, they just extended it.

  6. that's true, but he'd have more trade value with the extension than as a contract year guy that they hadn't shown confidence in.

    Anyway, my point was that he should be a lock to make the roster, despite what Rockphin and his juicy little ass says...

  7. NOT my ass, just one I like. ;)   As I said there are tough decisions to make.  Do you let your high potential draft pick get poached off the PS? Don't think so, so then you have to keep him on the 53.  If not Culver, then it's got to be Kilmer who gets the axe.  They will probably, as you said keep them all until camp is done and then try to trade Culver, if not then Kilmer goes.  But it comes back to Position flexibility again to me.  Neither one of these guys are starters, so which back up do you keep? The one who is marginally better at one position or the one that can fill in at two positions?

  8. Ahh...good point. I hadn't thought of it that way. Still I think they'd
    rather have Clemons show up on special teams. But that's what T.C. and
    Pre-Season is for.

  9. It will all come down to who is beating who in practice.

  10. yeah, but they don't have "positions" for special teams.  They still take a slot on the 53.  Who ever wins the battle is going to have to play on ST.

  11. Yeah, but they don't have "positions" set aside for ST players. Who ever wins the spot is going to take one of the 3-5 spots available and will HAVE to play on ST as well because they will be backups.

  12. Damn! I think that's the first "good point" I've gotten.  Usually it's "your crazy", "you don't know what the hell you are talking about" or just "WHAT?!"  I feel so proud. LOL

  13. Gotta go to a meeting now, so we'll pick this up later when more Posters chime in to tell me how wrong I am! Have a great day! Thanks for keeping the Dolphins talk going!

  14. I think Culver plays the dime and backs up both saftey spots on top of special teams.  Its gonna be difficult for Kilmer to unseat him or Clemons. 

  15. From what I've read and seen (FSU fan) Clemons is a hitter and very fleet of foot.  He would be ideal for a gunner spot.  So thats Jason Allen , Brandon London, Chris Clemons, and ??????? for the gunner spots.  Culver?  I know he played special teams last year ,but I'm a little foggy on where. 

  16. The Knight who says Ni!July 8, 2009 at 5:17 PM

    Good stuff, Tin.

    I don't think any of the safeties competing for probably two spots behind Bell and Wilson are locks. I'm not so sure Culver is a lock, he'll have to keep performing well to lock up that spot. But I do think he's a frontrunner for a couple of reasons. He's shown enough ability to help out in nickel and dime packages and the coaches also feel he has some decent man on man coverage ability and can play some corner if need be. The same is said about Clemons.

    This is one way we keep 5 safeties because these guys can flex as corners and play some man. Not as starters but in nickel and dime. Kilmer has position flexibility as well. These guys could push Nate Jones out the door.

    One thing Parcells likes in his DBs is physical play. Those are the kind of DBs we're bringing in. Guys who are big, can run and hit. I'm excited to watch how the secondary pans out.
    Okay off to the corners blog. :-D

  17. You read my mind,(as far as Culver being a lock)!!
    Walden,and Haynos too,IMHO!!

  18. Clemons is a lock too,IMHO!!

  19. I think Nate(o10 FA)is likely done here,(though I hope not)..
    WAllen,Vontae can play nickle if the occasion arises...

    IF not Nate,then I'd have to say they pk'd-up Green just in case they didn't land TWO STUDS in the draft!!

  20. When OTA's ended,I suggested that Bryan will be one of the next few cuts... He's been horrendous,as Tin mentioned a few instances..

    TIN,I'm ALL IN on your YB thoughts!!