Dolphins' rookie corners aim to impress

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins second-round pick Jamar Taylor fluidly went into his backpedal Friday, the first day of rookie minicamp. Taylor watched both the receiver and quarterback. When the ball was thrown, Taylor jumped the route and made a perfectly timed deflection.

It was the kind of play we didn't see much of from Miami's cornerbacks last season. The Dolphins are hoping Taylor and third-round pick Will Davis can infuse youth and playmaking ability into the secondary. Miami was rated No. 27 against the pass in 2012 and gave up a lot of big plays through the air.

With former No. 1 cornerback Sean Smith leaving in free agency, the Dolphins are seeing some turnover at the position in 2013. Miami signed former Pro Bowler Brent Grimes to take over one side. But the opposite cornerback spot is wide open, where Taylor and Davis will compete with veterans Dimitri Patterson and Richard Marshall.

“I like the fact that those guys were communicating,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said of his two rookies. "I watched some of their fundamental drills and they both look like they have good knee bend and move their feet pretty well, but obviously it was just a quick glance.”

Cornerback was a big need for Miami entering the draft -- making it no surprise that the Dolphins invested a second- and a third-round pick to stock the position.

The interesting part is that with those early-round picks, Miami drafted both cornerbacks from small schools. Taylor played at Boise State, Davis at Utah State. Both must prove they can make the immediate jump to the NFL.

“No, we don’t worry about that,” Taylor said. “We just worry about getting better and continue to just compete. As long as we compete, everything else will take care of itself.”

Patterson and Marshall both have fairly high salaries this season. If both rookies show they’re ready to play, it’s not out of the question that Miami could cut at least one veteran to save on salary and cap space. Keep an eye on the progress of Taylor and Davis during the spring camps and training camp this summer.