It was a mixed bag for cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, the former University of Miami standout, in 1-on-1 pass coverage drills Tuesday at practice for the Senior Bowl.
But Stevenson, a big, physical cornerback at 6-foot-2, 204 pounds who is projected to go anywhere from the late first round to the third round in the NFL draft, probably did well enough in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills to keep the interest of the local team, the Miami Dolphins, and every other NFL team, especially when it come to using his physicality.
“I’m a linebacker at heart,” said Stevenson, who was projected as the No. 23 pick of the first round by the Minnesota Vikings in a mock draft by NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah about two weeks ago.
Stevenson, who had 25 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defended last season with the Hurricanes, is among a number of cornerbacks the Dolphins will be scouting at this week’s practices at the University of South Alabama as well as Saturday’s Senior Bowl.
The Dolphins have one second-round pick and two third-round picks in the April draft, and they have a need for mid- to lower-round cornerbacks.
Aside from Stevenson, the Senior Bowl features Illinois’ Jartavius Martin, Stanford’s Kyu Blu Kelly, Kentucky’s Keidron Smith, Iowa’s Riley Moss, South Alabama’s Darrell Luter Jr., and Oregon State’s Rezjohn Wright, to name a few.
Stevenson, however, might be the best of the bunch and the former Miami Southridge High star who attended Georgia his first two years, showed some of his best stuff Tuesday.
“I felt like I did pretty good,” Stevenson said of his day.
Princeton wide receiver Andrei Iosivas beat Stevenson for a touchdown on one play, but Stevenson had such good coverage on TCU wide receiver Derius Davis on a crossing pattern soon afterward that TCU quarterback Max Duggan didn’t even bother to throw the pass, a rarity in 1-on-1 drills.
On another play, Stevenson covered SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice so well there was no room for a completed pass.
“I felt like all my 1-on-1 reps were pretty decent,” Stevenson said.
And in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills, Stevenson represented himself pretty darn well.
“I’m physical so sometimes at the line of scrimmage I like to use my hands, or just down the line when we get to the top of the route I sit it down and use physicality and my weight and not them throw me by,” Stevenson said.
Cornerback used to be a strength for the Dolphins defense. When they had Xavien Howard and Byron Jones as a tandem in 2021, they practically ruled the world on that side of the ball. That wasn’t the case this past season.
At best, the cornerback position held its own. That wasn’t good enough for the way the Dolphins wanted to play. We saw it all season.
The Dolphins will have a new defensive coordinator next season, but the bottom line in the NFL hasn’t changed — you need lock-down corners.
The question is whether their defense will start with cornerback strength as it did in past years.
The Dolphins return Howard, a Pro Bowler, and fellow starter Kader Kohou, the undrafted rookie standout. And, yes, they’ll get nickel/slot Nik Needham (Achilles) back.
But at this point, it’s unclear whether starter Jones (lower leg surgery) returns after missing the 2022 season. Beyond that, the 2022 season showed quality depth is a necessity. Injuries robbed them of their ability to control games with their cornerbacks.
The Dolphins can feel good about their ability to find cornerbacks after discovering recent undrafted gems such as Kohou and Needham.
Martin, projected as a third- or fourth-round pick, also had a good day, particularly in 11-on-11 drills. His versatility could be a bonus for the Dolphins considering he’s played boundary cornerback, slot/nickel and safety. The long-armed Martin (5-11, 193) played a lot of zone as a freshman but more man-to-man the past two years.
“I’ve got a little bit of all of it [in my game],” Martin said.
So does Stevenson.
He was coached in high school by Sedrick Irvin, the former Southridge and Michigan State standout running back, someone Stevenson called “a great running back, a great alumni for Southridge.”
But Irvin better be glad he never played against Stevenson. The physicality, Stevenson said, would have been too much.
“I would have lit him up,” Stevenson said with a smile before pounding his chest. “I’d have put these pads on him.”
Source: Berkshire mont
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