One corner who fits this current mold? Dolphins fourth-round draft choice Walt Aikens. The Dolphins are hoping that the 6’1 cornerback out of FCS powerhouse Liberty can fill that role and compliment the feisty but smaller group of defensive backs like Pro Bowlers Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan, and last year’s early draft picks Will Davis and Jamar Taylor.
In an interview with The Finsiders, Liberty Head Coach Turner Gill broke down Aikens, his former star cornerback and described what kind of player the Dolphins are getting with their fourth round selection.
One of the only things you can’t teach in this game is height and Aikens has plenty of it for a defensive back. Gill says that he uses his large frame to his advantage on the field.
“He’s definitely all of that 6’1,” said Gill. “He’ll tackle, run through people, and he can run with people because he’s a guy that has good speed too.”
Aikens not only has the height and measurables you could want from an NFL corner today, but he also provides defenses with flexibility. His strength and speed in man coverage gives the Dolphins the ability to put him on an island with a receiver and trust that he can get the job done, since he played in a man-based coverage scheme in college under Gill.
“We were a pure man and a quarters team, which basically ends up turning into man coverage,” said Gill. “So we allowed him to play press at certain times. As a matter of fact, whenever we had him going against a good receiver, we told him to go wherever he goes. That tells you what kind of guy we thought about him, as we put him on the best receivers we played against.”
Of course nothing is guaranteed ever in this league. Aikens will have to compete and outwork several talented players in a deep defensive backfield. Gill believes that Aikens best quality is his competitiveness, and there should be no problem for him working his way into a meaningful role with the team.
“This guy here knows how to compete, and I know he’s going to go in there and compete very well,” said Gill. “He is a physical player, and he’s not going to back down from anybody.”
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