The Miami Dolphins entered the 2023 draft without a first-round pick, despite having two at one point.
They had one pick stripped due to tampering violations, and they traded the other at the 2022 trade deadline for linebacker Bradley Chubb before giving him an extension.
So, Miami’s first selection came in the second round when they drafted South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith.
Smith joined a deep cornerback room that also features Jalen Ramsey, Xavien Howard, Nik Needham and Kader Kohou, and that’s great news for the rookie, as he can learn from some of the best in the game. Not only that, but he will also have to earn opportunities, and he’ll be practicing against some of the NFL’s top receivers in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
All of that means Smith will be tested early and often in camp.
On Thursday, Dolphins cornerbacks coach and pass-game specialist Sam Madison spoke with the media and answered questions about Smith’s performance in rookie minicamp, OTAs and mandatory minicamp.
“[He’s] doing very well,” Madison said. “But guess what, he’s a rookie, right? We can look around the league since football’s been in inception and they’re going to have their ups and downs. But he’s a fast learner.
“He still has a long way to go, but he’s getting better at each and every last one of those things that we’re throwing at him. We’re going to keep challenging him, we’re going to keep putting him in positions and see exactly what we can get out of him.”
Smith, like all rookies, has adjusting to do before he takes the field in September against some of the toughest coverage assignments in the league, but he’s trending nicely.
His biggest issue during his collegiate career was the penalties, and that’s something that can’t happen in the NFL. A cornerback won’t see the field if there are always flags being tossed on the field because there was too much contact.
If Smith can clean that up, he has the athleticism to be an impact player in Vic Fangio’s defense, and having that type of talent as a third or fourth cornerback is a luxury that most defenses don’t have.