It was obvious the Dolphins needed some boosts in the secondary after being ranked 22nd in pass defense, allowing 251.5 passing yards per game. While Xavien Howard has proven to be a solid CB1 for years to come and Byron Jones has shown to be a good free agent signing, there are still some issues to clean up. Eric Rowe and Bobby McCain were not the best safeties last season, being unreliable in deep or mid pass situations. The Dolphins also didn’t have great depth at safety either.
There had to be something done; after not signing a safety in the offseason, the draft was a perfect chance to select someone to bolster the safety core. After drafting Jaylen Waddle and Jaelan Phillips, the time arose to select a safety in the 2021 NFL Draft. With the 36th pick in the second round, the Miami Dolphins selected Jevon Holland, Safety from the University of Oregon. The Dolphins finally snagged the help they wanted.
In his freshman year at Oregon, he already showed that he’d be a monster in the NFL. In 13 games, he racked up 42 total tackles, six pass deflections, and five interceptions; he did this in only two starts. He rarely ran them back, however, as he only had eight yards gained from those five interceptions. While that may be true, he ranked second in the PAC-12 in interceptions that year and tenth in the whole NCAA. It was just his freshman year that he proved to be a ball hawk.
In his sophomore year, he truly showed he can be a howling leviathan ready to wreak havoc on the football field. In 14 games, where he started each time, Holland racked up 66 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, four interceptions, four pass deflections, and a pick-six. He led the team and the PAC-12 in interceptions that year.
He also showed to be a great punt returner as well. In 16 punt returns, he ran for 244 yards, averaging 15.3 yards per return. He ranked second in the PAC-12 and tenth in the NCAA in punt return yards, and he ranked second in the PAC-12 and sixth in the NCAA in yards per punt return. This returning attribute is a bonus to an already stellar athlete.
On September 26th, 2020, he opted out of the season and declaring for draft eligibility. With this move, he thought he had already proven himself enough and was prepared for what the NFL had in store for him.
The Film Speaks For Itself
I have talked about Holland before when I broke down the Dolphins Day Two picks, so I’ll be restating some of the points I’ve previously mentioned. Holland does an outstanding job of staying with his assignments and can trackballs in the air with ease. With his sticky hands and skill set, he could be a wide receiver as he can snag balls out of them and place himself in any spot to make a play.
He also has fantastic speed and agility, which allows him to sprint down the field exceptionally better than most players in this draft. He’s also aggressive as any defensive back could be. As stated, he’s a ball hawk specializing in both zone coverage and man coverage schemes. He can raddle any receiver he’s facing, and make it exceptionally tough to make a catch. He has also proven that he’s a stellar run defender as well.
Ya Like Versatility?
Recall the famous meme question from the Bee Movie, ‘Ya like jazz?’ Well, I propose the same question, just in a different way ‘Ya like versatility?’ Besides playing safety, he thrived in the slot as well. In Holland’s final season, he allowed a sub 53.5 completion percentage, a 1:3 touchdown to interception ratio, and allowed a low 53.9 quarterback rating.
Also, as stated earlier in the article, he’s a valued punt returner. He could easily improve himself in a gargantuan magnitude with this coaching staff; the special teams were on point last season.
Will He Be A Day One Starter?
As shown on the Dolphins depth chart, it shows that Holland is the backup free safety behind Bobby McCain for the starting spot. If he performs exceptionally well in training camp and the offseason, he could easily overtake McCain for the starting role. However, if that doesn’t happen and the Dolphins choose to keep McCain at free safety, I could see him replacing Eric Rowe. He’ll be a day one starter unless the worst outcome(s) occur.
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