Dolphins Player Profile — CB Xavien Howard
As we continue through this offseason without minicamps, we'll be breaking down the players on the roster, review their 2019 performance and see how they fit for 2020.
We continue this series with cornerback Xavien Howard.
How he got to Miami
The Dolphins selected Howard in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft, taking the Baylor cornerback with the 38th overall selection that year. The Dolphins moved up from the 42nd spot to get Howard, giving the Baltimore Ravens a fourth-round pick to move up four slots.
Howard is in the first year of the five-year, $75.3 million contract extension he signed last summer that made him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL at the time. The deal including a little over $39 million in guarantees, according to spotrac.com. For those keeping track of such things, the Dolphins could walk away from the deal without major consequences starting in 2022 when the dead cap value would be $2.8 million.
It was a rough year all around for the Dolphins, and Howard was not immune to all that was going on.
After earning his first Pro Bowl invitation in 2018, Howard never looked like the same kind of shut-down corner he had become starting in '17. He had a particularly difficult afternoon against Amari Cooper and the Dallas Cowboys and replays showed him going at less than full speed at times after being beaten by a double move.
Howard was shut down and placed on injured reserve after the Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which is when he came up with his only interception of the season.
For all the talk about Tua Tagovailoa and his recovery from hip surgery, it's also important for the Dolphins' chances in 2020 for Howard to come back and be the cornerback he was in 2018 and not the guy from last year.
If Howard is right, he absolutely has a place among the top five cornerbacks in the NFL.
And Byron Jones, who joined the Dolphins as a free agent this offseason and replaced Howard as the highest-paid corner in the league, isn't far behind.
With Howard and Jones, the Dolphins have their best cornerback tandem since the glory days of Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain and arguably the best duo in the NFL.
Having two elite corners would be a great foundation for the Dolphins defense and kind of match the blueprint the New England Patriots developed for their Super Bowl defense of a couple of years ago.
Of course, it's all dependent on Howard bouncing back and we haven't seen him on the practice field in about eight months because of the virtual offseason. So he definitely will be someone to watch when training camp starts.