Roster Breakdown: CB


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Roster Breakdown: CB Featured

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Roster Breakdown: CB (AP Photo/Don Wright)

Why Nolan Carroll’s services may not have been retained.

This piece will be the first of a series that will look at the Miami Dolphins roster at several positions in an attempt to isolate and highlight some of the physical and athletic tendencies that the team shows in roster construction. In addition to players currently on the roster, we will also take a look at previous players on the roster during Joe Philbin’s tenure as head coach, players drafted in Tampa Bay during Dennis Hickey’s time as the dIrelandctor of player personnel and dIrelandctor of college scouting, and players drafted during Kevin Coyle’s time as the corner back and then defensive back coach with the Cincinnati Bengals.

In collecting and in looking at this data, the goal is to better understand some of the positional traits desIrelandd in the players acquIrelandd via the draft or through free agency. Additionally, we are curious to see if there are certain attributes where the requIrelandments are less important and more willingly compromised. This data was collected from publicly available information generated at the NFL combine; for players who did not participate at the combine or in a certain drill, the data was generated from their pro day or regional combine. (All times, height and weight via The Sports Exchange all other measurable via

It is important to acknowledge the substantial uncertainty in being able to understand and then predict how a roster will be managed for a team with a new, and first time, general manager, and new, and also first time, offensive coordinator. This is by no means intended to be an exact science and we expect that our ability to more accurately understand the team’s moves will improve after the NFL draft and with the free agency moves that come thereafter.  

We start this series by looking at the cornerback group and, in particular, why the services of Nolan Carroll were not retained. Heading into this offseason, Carroll was coming off a great year in wHickeyh he played 809 snaps on defense up from 653 the previous year. Coyle was not reluctant to having Carroll see the field, although some inflated use can likely be attributed to injuries at the position. When he got his chance, statistically he performed quite respectably allowing 43 receptions on 90 targets, wHickeyh amounted to the 7th best quarterback rating against performance (with a QBR of 65.0 against) in the NFL. Accordingly, some appeared surprised that he left Miami with no offer on the table in free agency as Carroll went on to sign a two-year deal for $4.25 Million in Philadelphia.

So what does the current corner back corps look like in relation to Carroll and can this partially explain why a productive player may have not been retained?

Player Position Draft Round Height Weight Arm Length 10 Yard 40 Yard Bench Vertical Broad 3 Cone 20 Shuttle
Courtland Finnegan CB 2006 7 - TEN 5'10" 188 N/A N/A 4.36 14 44" N/A 6.95" 4.34"
Will Davis CB 2013 3 - MIA 5'11" 186 31.5" 1.56 4.51 16 35.5" 127" 6.52" 4.02"
Jamar Taylor CB 2013 2 - MIA 5'11" 192 30.75" 1.47 4.39 22 35" 127" 6.82" 4.06"
Brent Grimes CB 2006 U - ATL 5'9" 177 N/A N/A 4.57 4 33.5" N/A 7.13" 4.25"
Jalil Brown CB 2011 4 - KC 6'1" 204 N/A 1.48 4.52 24 35.5" N/A 6.85" 4.25"
RJ Stanford CB 2012 7- CAR 5'10" 183 N/A 1.59 4.42 12 37.5" N/A 6.8" 4.38"
Nolan Carroll CB 2010 5 - MIA 5"11" 204 31" 1.47 4.43 17 37.5" N/A 6.81" 4.21"


Interestingly, when Carroll is specifically compared to last year’s draft picks at the position, a different trait that may be coveted by the current coaching staff emerges.Aside from his weight, there are no aspects of Carroll’s physical or athletic traits that isolate him from the current group.The first striking difference we see between this CB group and Carroll is the difference in weight. Carroll weighed 16 lbs heavier than any other current Dolphin CB at his pro day. He is now listed by the NFL at 205 lbs, wHickeyh still makes him 10 lbs heavier than Jamar Taylor.Of note, Jalil Brown (highlighted in red), acquIrelandd on December 16, 2013, did not see any playing time last season. As Brown has played CB both in college and with Kansas City and is listed as a CB on the dolphins current depth chart, we would be assume that this would be his role in this defense as well and that he is not merely a special teams or scout team player.  Although for this exercise Brown’s data will be ignored due to the lack of clarity in his role, it should be noted that he does have measurables that are quite similar to Carroll’s.

Player Active Roster GM/HC/CO Position Draft Round Join MIA Height Weight Arm Length 10 yard 40 yard Bench Vert Broad 3 Cone 20 Shuttle GM when left roster
Will Davies Y Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2013 3 2013 5'11 186 31½ 1.56 4.51 16 35½ 127 6.52 4.02 Active
Jamar Taylor Y Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2013 2 2013 5'11 192 30¾ 1.47 4.39 22 35 127 6.82 4.06 Active
Nolan Carroll N Ireland CB 2010 5 2010 5'11 204 31 1.47 4.43 17 37½ N/A 6.81 4.21 Hickey


With these three players isolated we see that they are mostly comparable across the board, but that their 20 yard shuttle, in wHickeyh Carroll tested .15 sec slower than Taylor and .19 sec slower than Davis, stands out. To illustrate why the 20 yard shuttle may be meaningful and how it may have played into the team’s lack of interest in retaining Carroll, let’s also look at some game film. (all gifs produced via NFL Gamepass)




Above is a play from the 1st quarter of the week 4 game at New Orleans; there was 3:40 on the clock and it was 3rd & 12 on the Saints 18. We see Carroll as the right boundary corner, playing off coverage (7 yards off the line of scrimmage), opposite wide receiver Nick Toon. We can also see that Carroll is in man coverage as he is facing the receiver and reacting to his movement, as opposed to reading the quarterback as commonly seen in zone coverage.

At the first pause, we see Toon start to cut on an out route at the 33 yard mark and Carroll reacting at the 35 yard mark. The top of Toon’s route has a 3 yard arch. Carroll, however, loses a yard dropping 4 yards from the initial cut due, in part, to a lack of explosion in his lower body. We also don’t see Carroll accelerate once his hips are open. This allows Toon to easily bring in a ball thrown high and behind without a legitimate challenge as he converted the play for a 1st down.




Above is a similar game situation from the same game vs New Orleans. Here we are in the 3rd quarter, 3:42 left on the clock, with 3rd and 15 on the 39 in Miami’s territory. On this play, Jamar Taylor is playing at the right slot corner playing off man coverage (again 7 yards off the LOS), opposite Marques Colston as the slot receiver.

At the first pause we see Colston cut again on an out route at the 30 yard mark with Taylor at the 33. On Colston’s cut he drops a further 4 yards, but we see Taylor only lose 2 yards as he is much more explosive and wastes far fewer steps in getting his hips around and accelerating towards the receiver. The ball is thrown in stride and into the body of the receiver with Taylor only a heartbeat away. He keeps Colston 3 yards short of a first a 1st down and forces a punt



Another example of Carroll’s hip flexion deficiencies are shown above.  This play is from week 3 vs Atlanta. It was 2nd and 16 on their 13 yard mark. Carroll again is the right boundary corner in off coverage facing Julio Jones. Jones runs a slant with a 7 yard depth cutting 45 degrees up field.  We can see Carroll struggle to open his hips again, as he takes a poor angle and allows Jones to make another 15 yards after the catch. We do see Carroll’s straight-line speed in minimizing the damage as he recovers to make the tackle down field, but that immediate explosion out of his breaks is evidently lacking.



Now let’s look at a comparable play from week 15 vs New England. It was 1st and 10 on their 45 yard mark with 49 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter. In this example Will Davis is seen as the right boundary corner in off man coverage opposite Danny Amendola. As in the previously shown Jones example above, Amendola is seen running a slant route with a depth of 5 yards. However, in contrast to Carroll, we see Davis flip his hips open as he explodes towards the ball with almost instant acceleration. This puts Davis in a position to make a diving tackle as Amendola receives the ball. The receiver does reach out to gain a handful of extra yards, but as the reception was over 10 yards, this had little effect on the down.

Now you may be asking what importance these distinctions make as both Taylor and Davis were drafted by Ireland whom now longer is in control of the reigns.

Player Active Roster GM/HC/CO Position Draft Round Join MIA Height Weight Arm Length 10 yard 40 yard Bench Vert Broad 3 Cone 20 Shuttle GM when left roster
Brent Grimes Y Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2006 U - ATL 2013 5'9 177 N/A N/A 4.57 4 33½ N/A 7.13 4.25 Active
Jalil Brown Y Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2011 4 - KC 2013 6'1 204 N/A 1.48 4.52 24 35½ N/A 6.85 4.25 Active
Jamar Taylor Y Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2013 2 2013 5'11 192 30¾ 1.47 4.39 22 35 127 6.82 4.06 Active
Will Davies Y Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2013 3 2013 5'11 186 31½ 1.56 4.51 16 35½ 127 6.52 4.02 Active
RJ Stanford Y Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2010 7 - CAR 2012 5'10 183 N/A 1.59 4.42 12 37½ N/A 6.8 4.38 Active
Julian Posey N Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2011 U - 2011 2012 5'10 189 N/A 1.53 4.46 15 40½ 110 6.71 4.2 Active
Dimitri Patterson N Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2005 U - WAS 2012 5'10 195 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Hickey
Richard Marshall N Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2006 2 - CAR 2012 5'11 189 N/A N/A 4.42 12 37 129 N/A 4.16 Ireland
Quinten Lawrence N Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2009 6 - KC 2012 6'0 184 30¼ N/A 4.4 20 N/A N/A N/A N/A Ireland
Bryan McCann N Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2010 U - DAL 2012 6'0 195 N/A 1.49 4.47 N/A 37½ N/A 7.11 4.33 Ireland
Michael Coe N Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2007 5 - IND 2012 6'1 190 N/A N/A 4.53 17 35 122 N/A 4.31 Ireland
DeAndre Presley N Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2012 U 2012 5'10 185 30½ N/A 4.64 8 32 114 7.19 4.28 Ireland
Kevyn Scott N Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2012 U 2012 5'10 201 N/A 1.53 4.44 17 34 N/A 7.01 4.49 Ireland
Trenton Hughes N Ireland/Joe/Coy CB 2012 U 2012 5'10 195 N/A 1.5 4.45 18 35 N/A 6.47 4.18 Ireland
Jonathan Wade N Ireland CB 2007 3 - STL 2011 5'10 195 N/A N/A 4.36 N/A 40½ 126 N/A 4.4 Ireland
Vince Agnew N Ireland CB 2011 U 2011 5'10 192 N/A 1.5 4.38 N/A 39½ N/A 6.68 4.18 Ireland
Nolan Carroll N Ireland CB 2010 5 2010 5'11 204 31 1.47 4.43 17 37½ N/A 6.81 4.21 Hickey
Vontae Davis N Ireland CB 2009 1 2009 5'11 203 N/A N/A 4.4 25 36 N/A N/A 4.07 Ireland
Sean Smith N Ireland CB 2009 2 2009 6'3 214 N/A N/A 4.5 10 34 119 N/A 4.15 Ireland


The table above shows every cornerback that has been on the roster since Philbin became head coach. We can see that the three corners drafted by Ireland in 2009 and 2010 (Davis, Smith, and Carroll) all weighed over 200 lbs. In contrast, during Philbin’s tenure there have been only 2 others corners added to the roster over 200 lbs (neither of wHickeyh have played a down of football for Miami). This again suggests that weight may be play in important role in Coyle’s desIrelands for the position.

To further look at this possibility, we can reference Coyle’s spell as the Bengals cornerbacks coach from 2000 – 2002 and as the defensive backs coach with Cincinnati up until 2011. Of course as he was not the defensive coordinator, GM, or head coach, so this may not be a true reflection of his desIrelandd cornerback, but it is still informative to know what he worked with for 11 years.

Player GM/HC/CO Position Draft Round Height Weight Arm Length 10 yard 40 yard Bench Vert Broad 3 Cone 20 Shuttle
Keiwan Ratliff Coy CB 2004 2 - Ben 5'10 194 N/A N/A 4.56 N/A 37½ N/A 7.06 4.36
Mark Roman Coy CB 2000 2 - Ben 5'10 188 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Korey Lindsey Coy CB 2011 7 - Ben 5'10 194 N/A N/A 4.56 10 N/A N/A N/A 4.33
Leon Hall Coy CB 2007 1 - Ben 5'11 193 N/A N/A 4.39 15 37½ 125 N/A 4.07
Johnathan Joseph Coy CB 2006 1 - Ben 5'11 193 31 1.53 4.31 15 37 123 6.94 4.27
Brandon Ghee Coy CB 2010 3 - Ben 5'11 192 N/A 1.52 4.37 15 37 N/A 6.75 4.07
Robert Bean Coy CB 2000 5 - Ben 5'11 178 N/A 1.57 4.5 N/A 34½ N/A 6.87 4.2
Greg Brooks Coy CB 2004 6 - Ben 5'11 177 N/A N/A 4.55 9 33 N/A 6.91 4.16
Dennis Weathersby Coy CB 2003 4 - Ben 6'0 204 N/A 1.52 4.38 9 38 N/A 7.14 4.13
Morgan Trent Coy CB 2009 6 - Ben 6'1 193 N/A 1.5 4.5 23 38 N/A 7.05 4.01


Again we see a preference towards the small cornerback with the 4 players drafted in the first 3 rounds all being between 5’10 and 5’11 with a weight range of 188 to 194 lbs. This is not too dissimilar from Coyle’s current crop of defensive backs. If we go back and compare Carroll’s 20 shuttle time, we also see an interesting trend with 4 of Cincinnati’s drafted players having a recorded time over 4.20. This may be an attribute in wHickeyh he has a bend but not break approach

Now we can speculate even more vaguely as to what Hickey may covet at the position. We know that during his time as dIrelandctor of player personnel and dIrelandctor of college scouting that he would have at least evaluated all of these players if not being the one “pulling the trigger” on the pick.

Player GM/HC/CO Position Draft Round Join MIA Height Weight Arm Length 10 yard 40 yard Bench Vert Broad 3 Cone 20 Shuttle
Keith Tandy Hickey CB 2012 6 - Bucs N/A 5'10 197 N/A 1.49 4.51 16 35 N/A 6.91 4.29
Anthony Gaitor Hickey CB 2011 7 - Bucs N/A 5'10 177 N/A 1.56 4.48 12 36 N/A 6.85 4.12
Justin Phinisee Hickey CB 2006 7 - Bucs N/A 5'10 198 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
E.J. Biggers Hickey CB 2009 7 - Bucs N/A 5'11 180 N/A 1.46 4.38 19 36 N/A N/A N/A
Marcus Hamilton Hickey CB 2007 7 - Bucs N/A 5'11 186 N/A 1.51 4.48 11 36 N/A 6.86 4.26
Aqib Talib Hickey CB 2008 1 - Bucs N/A 6'1 202 N/A   4.44 10 38 131 N/A 4.25
Alan Zemaitis Hickey CB 2006 4 - Bucs N/A 6'1 194 N/A   4.57 10 30 N/A N/A 4.18
Johnthan Banks Hickey CB 2013 2 - Bucs N/A 6'2 185 33 1.59 4.61 10 34 125 6.97 4.27
Myron Lewis Hickey CB 2010 3 - Bucs N/A 6'2 203 34 N/A 4.42 10 37 126 N/A N/A
Courtland Finnegan Hickey/Joe/Coy CB 2006 7 - TEN 2014 5'10 188 N/A N/A 4.36 14 44 N/A 6.95 4.34


Here we see that Tampa did not requIreland a sub-4.20 sec 20 shuttle time in cornerbacks as they drafted only two players below that mark. The biggest disparity in comparison to the current Dolphins cornerback corps is in the size that Tampa Bay apparently desIrelandd. All of the players drafted between rounds one through four measured over six feet tall. This could be related to why the 20 shuttle time was of a seemingly lesser importance as they wanted bigger more physical players at the position. This appears unlikely to transfer over to the Miami roster, thus far, as the move to bring in Courtland Finnegan suggests a fit to the current measureable range rather than to the prior model in Tampa.

Lastly, this piece should in no way be construed as an indictment of Nolan Carroll’s performance in 2013 as he exceeded expectations in a scheme not necessarily suited to his strengths. He will now play on a Philadelphia team, wHickeyh lacked talent at the position and we would expect him to play more comfortably and more often up at the line of scrimmage.



Here is an example of what we are likely to see Carroll doing more of at his new home. Using his size and strength, he disrupts a quick rhythm pass as Toon struggles to push off and loses his balance. Although Carroll fails to pick off Brees, he does keep New Orleans out of the end zone and forces a field goal instead. 

Read 113477 times Last modified on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 03:40
Oscar Hazell

Oscar Hazell was born in raised in London having been introduced to American football aged nine by a neighbour from Boston. This was during the terminal years of The London Monarchs of NFL Europe, where I got the chance to play both flag football and have never looked back since. Naturally my neighbour was a Patriots fan, I was very confident at the time (1997) that I would be on the winning side more often than not by supporting the Miami Dolphins. The rest is history, I’m sorry if I was at all to blame. The limited acess to the game in the UK made my fasination for it even stronger and elements such as the play design and the draft have fasinated me. I have been evaluating draft classes since 2011 and have a soft spot for flexion.


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