With the news that newly acquired Jalen Ramsey will be out until December for the Dolphins due to knee surgery, Dolphins fans will have to wait to see Ramsey and Xavien Howard together in the Dolphins secondary. However, all hope is not lost for the team, the cornerback room is deep and there are options for the team to explore. While replacing him won’t be easy, let’s take a look at five of the names that could fill in for Ramsey during his recovery.
First, there is last season’s breakout star Kader Kohou, the undrafted rookie from the 2022 draft class who showed a lot of promise in 2022 starting in 13 of 15 games on the season as the team’s nickel corner. He also showed that he didn’t shy away from contact making 63 of his 72 total tackles solo. He also got tested in coverage and had 10 pass breakups and an interception on the season. Having proved his ability, could a move opposite of Howard be the next step in his progression?
Next, is one of the veterans who for the moment sits behind Ramsey on the depth chart, Keion Crossen. Crossen who is on his fourth team in five years, has never really gotten an opportunity to be a regular starter in the league. Having been with the Dolphins last season he knows how his defensive teammates work which does make it easier for him to step up. He is a speedy corner that could benefit from the new defensive system that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will look to install.
Third, is 2023 second-round pick Cam Smith. The former South Carolina Gamecock is currently listed behind Xavien Howard on the depth chart, there is something to be said for having him paired with Howard in the secondary as he adjusts to the NFL. Smith, who played more of a zone coverage scheme in college, could have an easier transition into Fangio’s defense. He’s a hard hitter and closes really quickly to make plays on the ball carrier. He can also play in the box to help against the run.
Fourth on my list is the newly acquired Eli Apple. Most recently with Cincinnati, Apple brings the most experience with seven seasons in the league. Apple’s style provides another lockdown-style corner for the Dolphins’ defense. Where he does do a great deal to defend and react well to make plays, he has had his share of missteps from going after the “big play” instead of making the tackle and minimizing the gain. A reset in a new environment could help showcase him as an above-average defender.
The last name on my list is definitely a bit of a long shot but Noah Igbinoghene is an option. Yes, he has struggled at the NFL level since being drafted by the Dolphins, but there is a new scheme on defense that could make better use of his skill set. He can still help in run defense and still has skills that made him a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Crystal Ball Prediction
Personally, I like the idea of either having Smith take over as cornerback on that side opposite of Xavien Howard or, having Kohou step into a larger role. Smith is more of a fit at this stage to succeed in zone schemes. If the goal is to get him ready for the NFL stage, then getting him meaningful playing time now will help. Kohou was a standout last season, so it would be nice to see the team reward his effort with a bigger opportunity.
Final prediction – Cam Smith gets the opportunity.