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Who Will Step Up as Fourth Dolphins Cornerback?

The Dolphins need for someone to emerge behind Xavien Howard, Byron Jones and Nik Needham

The top of the Miami Dolphins cornerback depth chart is one arguably is the strongest group on Miami’s roster. It’s led by Xavien Howard, Byron Jones and Nik Needham, who all have proven themselves as at least quality NFL starters with Howard becoming a star.

However, Miami’s depth at the cornerback position is a question mark. The rest of the depth chart is filled mostly with unproven young players and veterans who have bounced around the NFL for the last couple of years.

We’ve decided to deep-dive into some players who potentially could fill Miami’s fourth cornerback spot this season. Whether Howard’s injuries flare up again, Jones has issues recovering from his offseason leg injury or the Dolphins play a team with a deep receiver room, this player will have to play important snaps.

Noah Igbinoghene

Since being drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft out of Auburn, Igbinoghene has struggled to earn consistent playing time. He played in seven games with just one start last season, missed two games on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, and was inactive for another six games.

When he’s been on the field, things haven’t been pretty. He finished with a 53.8 coverage grade in 2021 and a 38.8 coverage grade in 2020, per PFF. While that points to some improvement, it’s important to remember he played only 78 snaps in 2021 compared to 286 snaps in 2020.

On film, Igbinoghene still has a lot of the same issues that were evident in his college tape at Auburn. He still struggles to locate the ball over his shoulder, stay with the receiver through multiple breaks, and read the eyes of the quarterback while staying disciplined in zone coverage.

With all that said, Igbinoghene has the natural athletic traits to be an effective cornerback in the NFL. He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash and jumped 128 inches in the broad jump, which is in the 85th percentile for NFL cornerbacks, at the NFL combine.

Igbinoghene turning his career completely around and living up to his draft pedigree is highly unlikely, but if he can improve to the point where he isn’t a total liability he might earn reps as the team’s fourth cornerback.

Quincy Wilson

Wilson is the most experienced of the group sitting behind Miami’s top three cornerbacks as he enters his sixth season after being selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft.

Wilson currently is listed on the Dolphins roster as a “defensive back,” meaning he’s probably getting reps at both safety and cornerback. He’s worth mentioning as the team’s fourth cornerback because the competition in the safety room is much tougher.

Wilson's first two seasons with the Colts showed some promise. Between 2017 and 2018, he appeared in 20 games with 10 starts and finished with two interceptions, eight pass breakups, and 39 solo tackles.

Those numbers aren’t groundbreaking and neither are his PFF coverage grades of 68.3 in 2017 and 62.9 in 2018, but as a fourth cornerback for Miami, those numbers would be passable.

However, instead of getting better over time, Wilson has gotten worse. In 2019, he finished with a coverage grade of 32.6 and had no ball production. He then left Indianapolis for the New York Jets in 2020 and he played just four games, and he missed the entire 2021 season with an ankle injury.

Wilson becoming a productive player again is a long shot. Despite that, Wilson is  one of Miami’s few options with anything resembling quality play and a significant sample size on their resume.

Keion Crossen

Crossen is the next-most experienced candidate as he’s entering his fifth season in the NFL after the Patriots selected him in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL draft. That means Crossen spent his rookie season under Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer.

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Like Wilson, Crossen is listed as a defensive back, but again, due to the level of competition in the safety room, Crossen’s best chance to earn reps is probably at cornerback.

Crossen spent the 2021 season with the Giants where he record zero ball production and just 13 total tackles in limited reps.

The Western Carolina product did play 441 total snaps for the Texans from 2019 through 2020, but he didn’t exactly grade out well. His best season was 2020 when he finished with a PFF coverage grade of 61.5 compared to his 2019 grade of 44.2.

Crossen likely will be a consistent contributor on special teams regardless of how many reps he gets on defense. Miami could value him for his experience and give him an opportunity to step up this offseason.

Javaris Davis

Davis is the first of many players in their first or second year in the league fighting for a spot on the depth chart. He played 10 defensive snaps in total last season, and they all came in Week 12 against the Carolina Panthers.

To Davis’ credit, he did record two tackles and one pass breakup in those 10 snaps.

Davis was a UDFA from Auburn who originally signed the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad in 2020. In college, Davis played in 49 games with 35 starts while recording 150 total tackles, two sacks, eight interceptions, 37 pass breakups, one forced fumble, and one pick-six.

The cousin of former Dolphins first-round pick Vontae Davis, Javaris Davis is listed at 5-8 and 183 pounds on the Dolphins' official roster, so if he is going to make an impact on defense this season it likely will be as a slot cornerback.

Trill Williams

Williams is another former UDFA who joined Miami after getting waived by another team. He made Miami’s 53-man roster last offseason after getting cut by the New Orleans Saints.

He made his NFL debut in Week 18 against the Patriots last season, but he didn’t record any stats and was inactive for 12 of Miami’s games.

The Syracuse product did have a strong three-year career before going undrafted. He played in 28 games with 15 starts and recorded 93 total tackles, four interceptions, 10 passes defended, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one pick-six.

Williams is listed at 6-1, 205, making him a prototype outside cornerback for a heavy man coverage scheme, which is a perfect fit for the Dolphins defense.

Elijah Campbell

Campbell joined the Dolphins after being claimed off waivers from the New York Jets early in 2021. He played in seven games last season, was inactive for four games, and then was placed on injured reserve in November, ending his season.

Campbell likely figures into Miami’s roster as a special teams contributor, something he did last season. His odds to make an impact as a fourth cornerback are a little low given his lack of experience in the NFL.

Campbell’s only defensive stat from last season was a single tackle.

He was productive in college, though, finishing with 24 games played, 87 tackles, 15 passes defended, and eight interceptions in two years at Northern Iowa.