The key is Dean. One of the more important defensive recruits in some time because his presence sends a ripple effect across the unit. It'd potentially allow us to maintain or increase effectiveness next year, despite losing 3/4 DBs.
- From what I've seen of Dean, he's got great feet, long arms, but a slighter build. If you look at him and watch him move, he's in that Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie mold, where he's sticky to receivers, flips his hips easily and changes direction. Question is going to be if he tackles and plays the way Diaz and clan expect of their DBs. It's absolutely imperative for CBs to tackle, be feisty and fight off stuff downhill. Otherwise, 2-read coverages don't work very well.
- Malek Young is a guy I've been fairly vocal about in terms of excitement. They list him at 5' 9", but from what i've seen, he plays bigger. He has awesome acceleration and that's what separates him. I think he plays the Corn spot. And, I've said he probably gives us about 75% of what Corn gave us this year. So, not the out of this world dropoff some might expect, despite Corn's awesomeness tackling and as a zone corner.
The rest is questionable, and I'll wait for Spring practice to provide more detailed responses:
- Redwine looked bad in moments, but I don't think he's nearly as bad as some make him out to be. He does a few of the things Diaz asks of his corners very well. He just can't accelerate enough to do some of the other things - like change direction in Cover 3 drops, chase a guy vertically, etc. Everyone keeps mentioning him as a FS, but I'll wait to see it to comment on that move.
- Michael Jackson flashed at times, but mostly athletically. He's big and rangier than I thought, and I think a good fit to play outside while Young and Dean can kick inside in Nickel and Dime packages at times.
- I don't know if Mayes will hold off some of the incomers, but we shall see.
- You didn't list him, but I've said on the recruiting board that I think Deejay Dallas should get his first look as a CB. I imagined him smaller, but D$ mentioned he's actually a legit 5' 11" 185+. When I watch his feet and change of direction, I think of someone like Janoris Jenkins. Not necessarily *blazing* speed (comparable to other corners), but probably a legit 4.5 guy soon enough and excellent balance. His attributes scream "let's look at this guy as a corner." Some have said FS. I have no idea. I haven't watched him enough in tackling, etc., to comment on whether he fits that in Diaz's defense.
- Bandy is basically made to play Nickel corner. His short area is elite. He's apparently strong enough. I'd be surprised if he didn't get an immediate look inside and be made into a sorta "DB specialist" during his first year.
- Jaquan Johnson is the only steady returning guy, and that's both scary and disappointing. Should not happen at Miami. I'm not sure how Miami scrambles to find rangier Safeties. I would have liked to see us recruit a guy like Shawn Davis as a priority, Collier and Edwards as backup plans and trial guys at S. We'll see if we surprise with a Paris Ford or someone like that.
- Knowles looked ok to me tackling, but is going to have to really step up if we don't slide someone else, like Redwine, over there. I'm hesitant.
- Romeo Finley actually flashed a bit when I've watched him, but doesn't change direction well enough to be the complement we need to Jaquan. I suspect it's going to be his job, but who knows if/when things shake out with positions.
- Believe it or not, I think Cedrick Wright can contribute here in a specialist role. He's a really willing tackler and fills well. He has one problem, though: Jaquan Johnson is the best Nickel on the team, probably, and if he's forced to play Safety, then Wright will still have to fight it out with superior athletes like Bandy.
- No comments on James. When I was given the opportunity to watch practices, I simply don't remember enough of him.
- Don't know if the incoming recruits - Carter and Smith - have sufficient range to fill the Rayshawn Jenkins role - a guy I think we chastised too often and who we will miss a bit. Deejay Dallas may be an option, as he's an EE, smart player, great feet and will have sufficient range. Problem is we don't know on the tackling.
- I've said on the recruiting board that we basically need the 2018 class of Safeties this year. Gilbert Frierson is my favorite recruit and may not be as good as Gurvan Hall. There's also the kid from Heritage. Won't make this a Rumph thread. Anyway, *those* types are the guys who are perfect, perfect fits for Diaz's scheme. As the LBs get better and better and Diaz gains confidence in them making their drops and tightening up their zones, I think you'll see Diaz become even more aggressive at times with his packages. To optimize all of that, we need a Derwin James type.
Like I said in another thread yesterday, if you've played DB, you know you are, at most times, a product of what's going on with the front 7. You can really make plays and complement what they do, but it starts with them. Luckily, I'd be surprised if there's a better front 7 than ours in the nation next year.