Barry Jackson

The skinny on new Dolphins CB Verner; Dolphins notes

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Alterraun Verner breaks up a pass intended for Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce in the third quarter on Sun., Nov. 20, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium, in Kansas City, Mo.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Alterraun Verner breaks up a pass intended for Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce in the third quarter on Sun., Nov. 20, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium, in Kansas City, Mo. TNS

A quick six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Tuesday night:

• So what are the Dolphins getting in 5-foot-10, 28-year-old veteran cornerback Alterraun Verner? (Here’s my and Adam Beasley’s piece on Verner’s signing and Koa Misi being placed on IR.)

A few other things to keep in mind:

1) The good news: Verner, drafted in the fourth round out of UCLA by the Tennessee Titans in 2010, has 15 NFL interceptions, including five in 2013... He allowed only a 67.9 passer rating in his coverage area last season, which was very good. Bobby McCain, conversely, allowed a 113 rating in his area... Verner allowed only 13 of 28 passes thrown in his coverage area to be caught last season.... He can play both in the slot and on the boundary.

2) The bad news: Though his passer rating against and completion percentage against were good last season, they weren’t in 2014 and 2015. In 2014, he allowed a 111.1 passer rating against and 68.6 percent completion percentage against, according to Pro Football Focus.

In 2015, he relinquished a 100.0 passer rating in his coverage area, with 70.5 percent of the passes thrown against him completed. (But his passer rating against in all five of his other NFL seasons fell between 55.8 and 80.8. So that’s encouraging)...

Couple other mildly worrisome factoids: He was called for 11 penalties in 46 games for Tampa Bay, and the 13 passes that Verner allowed completions on last season averaged 15.5 yards.

• Despite his uneven play, he clearly has the potential to be an upgrade over McCain, who hasn’t been the ballhawk the Dolphins expected when they drafted him out of Memphis. He has one interception and one forced fumble in 36 career games.

Verner, at his best, can play at a Pro Bowl caliber level. But his play has been inconsistent in three seasons since that Pro Bowl apperance.

• Verner has experience playing outside and covering the slot receiver. The Dolphins indicated privately that he will compete with McCain in the slot but that he also will get some work outside.

Miami did not tell him that he was the favorite for the slot job because that would run counter to the philosophy of Adam Gase, who - like most coaches - is all about competition. So both he and McCain will have a chance, with Michael Thomas also an option.

The Dolphins believed they needed more versatile corners who could play both inside and the slot. Tony Lippett is best suited for the boundary and McCain for the slot. And though the Dolphins have said Xavien Howard can play in the slot, they prefer him on the outside.

• Verner made the Pro Bowl as a Titan following the 2013 season when he had five interceptions and 22 pass break-ups, which tied for the NFL lead. He parlayed that into a four-year, $26.4 million contract with Tampa Bay.

But PFF says Verner’s three seasons in Tampa were the lowest-rated of his career.

Verner started 14 games and played 859 snaps for the Buccaneers in 2014 and had two interceptions. But he started just nine games the last two years. He lost his starting job to Tim Jennings in 2015 and logged just 578 snaps.

Last year, Verner played only 241 snaps and started just three games, in part because Tampa Bay bolstered its secondary by signing Brent Grimes and drafting Vernon Hargreaves.

Tampa Bay released him Feb. 23 to save $6.5 million in cap space. He subsequently worked out for Jacksonville but the Jaguars didn’t sign him.

• The Dolphins, still open to potentially adding a veteran No. 3 defensive tackle, recently worked out ex-Jaguars starter Roy Miller, limited to six games last season with a torn Achilles tendon.

• Though the Dolphins have bypassed a chance to work out former Chargers/Broncos/UM guard Orlando Franklin (who auditioned for the Jets Tuesday), the Dolphins on Wednesday (per a league source) will audition journeyman guard Kitt O’Brien, a former Arena Football Leaguer who was on the Colts practice squad last season.

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