State of the Dolphins: Miami can’t be content with thin secondary

This is the eighth and final installment of State of the Miami Dolphins, a position-by-position breakdown of the franchise prior to the start of training camp.

Previously: Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide receivers | Tight ends | Offensive line | Defensive line | Linebackers

Position: Cornerback and safety

Current corps: Byron Maxwell, Xavien Howard, Tony Lippett, Jordan Lucas, Bobby McCain, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu; Reshad Jones, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Michael Thomas, Walt Aikens

Key additions: Maxwell, Howard, Lucas, Ekpre-Olomu, Abdul-Quddus

Key losses: Brent Grimes, Jamar Taylor, Brice McCain

Key re-signings: N/A

Projected starters (CB): Maxwell, Howard, Lippett

Projected starters (S): Jones, Abdul-Quddus

Analysis: Man, oh man, does Vance Joseph have his work cut out for him or what?

When the former Bengals secondary coach took the Dolphins’ gig, becoming their new defensive boss, his crew was experienced and accomplished, anchored by Pro Bowl (barely) cornerback Brent Grimes and safety Reshad Jones.

Now, six months later? Grimes is gone. Burn victim Jamar Taylor is gone. Brice McCain is gone. Jones is back, begrudgingly. All in all, there are five new arrivals, comprised of a high-profile castoff, a complete unknown, two rookies, and a guy who’s one low hit away from total debilitation.

And while that assessment seems extraordinarily rough, it’s not untrue. Consider: Byron Maxwell, overpaid and under-effective, was jettisoned by the Eagles; few knew Abdul-Quddus’ name before this past March; Ekpre-Olomu is rehabbing the same knee injury that occurred nearly two years ago.

For the draftniks out there, none of your mocks had Xavien Howard going to Miami on Day 2. Don’t lie …  you never thought the Dolphins would bypass other needs — such as DE, DT, ILB, OLB, and S — for Jordan freaking Lucas.

Howard, by the way, the presumed No. 2 opposite Maxwell, underwent minor knee surgery and will begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Coach Adam Gase revealed that Tony Lippett, a converted college wide receiver, will see first-team reps in Howard’s place. Oh, and there’s that whole deal with Maxwell’s creaky shoulder.

You’ve gotta empathize with Joseph, who’ll be expected to whip up chicken salad from chicken you-know-what. Which is why the team must explore additional options.

Former Bengals CB Leon Hall remains a free agent, and has been linked to the Dolphins for the better part of the offseason. Perhaps it’s time for his old boss to call in a favor, if nothing else for familiarity’s sake.

It’ll be daunting enough for Joseph in year one, when the kinks in his system are still getting worked out. But to not have more than one building block, and instead relying on the unreliable, makes life just no fun.

(Photo source: PhinPhanatic.com)

Zack Kelberman
An award-winning sportswriter, reporter and blogger, Zack currently serves as the Miami Dolphins live correspondent and Team Stream curator for Bleacher Report. He's also a freelance NFL writer and the founder/editor-in-chief of Helmet2Helmet. His work has appeared on media outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, MSN.com, FanSided.com, and About.com. Zack can be reached on Twitter (@ZackKelberman) or via email (zpkelb@gmail.com).