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Can Madison-Surtain Tandem Bring Out the Best in Igbinoghene?

Former first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene is likely to benefit the most from the additions of former Miami Dolphins cornerback greats Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain to the coaching staff

While Patrick Surtain was quick to caution against expecting all the Miami Dolphins cornerbacks to become great overnight because they'll now be coached by him and fellow former Pro Bowler Sam Madison, there's little doubt that group should benefit from their wisdom.

And it's really hard, if not impossible, to think of any Dolphins cornerback who stands to benefit more from Madison and Surtain's tutelage than Noah Igbinoghene.

It's been a rough go for Igbinoghene since he arrived as the third of the Dolphins' three first-round pick in the 2020 draft and it might not be a stretch to suggest it's now or never for him. At the very least, we can say his career already is at a crossroads because the Dolphins aren't going to stick with him forever if he can't become a bigger factor at some point.

While he was coaching high school football in South Florida for the past six years, Surtain has more familiarity with Igbinoghene than does Madison because of his son, Patrick Surtain II. That's because the younger Surtain played at Alabama and Igbinoghene played at rival Auburn.

“Seeing him play, I thought he was a really good player," Surtain said this week. "Has really good speed, he’s physical at the line of scrimmage. I think the thing with him is just hearing that right voice, hearing somebody who can push him, who’s not gonna sugarcoat anything with him.

"It's his third year. He's a first first-round pick. He has talent; he has to go out there and do it. But that's the bottom line. He has to get healthy. It’s now or never. You know the saying the NFL is not for long; you have an opportunity to contribute to this team. Don’t go into it in thinking that I’m just a backup. Go in looking to take somebody's spot. That’s the message that we’ve got to relay to him and hopefully he takes that mentality with him.”

It's way too early to try to project what Igbinoghene's role will be in 2022, though it would be a major disappointment if it didn't turn out to be more significant than in his two years in the NFL when he reached double digits in defensive snaps only five times in 19 games after starting twice for an injured Byron Jones early in the 2020 season.

In 2021, Igbinoghene was inactive six times and did not play in four other games when he was active.

The Dolphins knew Igbinoghene might take some time to reach his potential when they made him the 30th overall selection in that 2020 draft considering he had played defensive back at Auburn only one year after being a wide receiver as a freshman and sophomore.

But if Igbinoghene is going to become a contributor for the Dolphins defense, it's going to have to happen soon if it's going to happen at all.

While Surtain was clear about his message to Igbinoghene, Madison took a more collective approach.

“We're gonna come in, we're gonna put our head down, we're gonna work and we're gonna demand the best from each and every last one of our guys because there's only 32 teams," he said. "There's only a certain amount of guys. This is the group of guys that we're going to have and you're only as good as the last guy on the roster, and at any given time it’s the next man up. So everybody needs to be prepared.”