The Miami Dolphins were serious about upgrade their secondary in the offseason, and NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks believes they clearly have hit the mark with their moves.
In ranking his five most improved position units around the NFL, Brooks put the Dolphins secondary right at the top.
The key move in the offseason obviously was the signing of free agent Byron Jones, who replaced new teammate Xavien Howard as the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
The Dolphins also drafted cornerback Noah Igbinoghene in the first round and safety Brandon Jones in the third, while adding safeties Clayton Fejedelem and Kavon Frazier in free agency (though the latter two likely will contribute more on special teams than defense.
"I love when you have personnel that perfectly fits the scheme," Brooks said. "Byron Jones is a lock-down man-to-man cornerback. He teams with Xavien Howard. They now can play the style that (Head Coach) Brian Flores wants to play on the outside, man-to-man, nose-to-nose. I think they are vastly improved. Look for the Miami Dolphins to make a surge up the charts."
The rest of Brooks' top five had the Baltimore Ravens defensive line at number 2, followed by the Arizona Cardinals wide receivers, the Cleveland Browns offensive line and the Atlanta Falcons defensive line.
Safety Bobby McCain, appearing on a video conference call Thursday, said he likes the additions to the secondary, though he's not ready to make bold proclamations about his position group.
"I’ve seen Byron for years," McCain said. "He’s my class – my draft class – so I have seen him over the years play really good football. Even with the rookie (Igbinoghene) coming in, he’s going to have a lot to learn and it’s going to be tough because there are no OTAs (off-season training activities) and everything, but he’ll get it done. He’s a smart kid.
"I’m not going to make any predictions on how good our secondary is going to be. We’re just going to take each and every day and try to collect them, gain chemistry with each other and try to be the best version of the Miami Dolphins. That’s all. We don’t want to just sit back and say how great we’re going to be. We’re just going to try to get better each and every day, and we’ll just let it fall into place.”