Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cornerback Travis Daniels dealt to Browns

It wasn't the rampantly-rumored John Beck trade, but the Dolphins did make a minor splash on the trade front today. Fourth-year cornerback Travis Daniels was shipped to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for what is believed to be a seventh-round pick.

Background

Daniels, 25, was drafted by former Dolphins head coach Nick Saban in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Saban had previously coached Daniels while the two were at LSU.

Despite being a second-day pick, Daniels was thrust into the starting lineup early as he opened 14 of 16 games for the Dolphins in 2005. It would prove to be his best season for the Dolphins as he recorded 61 tackles, 13 pass deflections and an interception.

Daniels appeared in 28 games over the following two seasons, starting 11. He recorded just two interceptions and five pass deflections over in that span.

Prior to the trade, Daniels had been competing for a backup cornerback job with Nathan Jones, Joey Thomas, Will Billingsley and Chris Roberson in training camp.

Daniels' departure leaves the Dolphins with only half their 2005 draft class remaining on the roster. Second overall pick Ronnie Brown, second-rounder Matt Roth and third-rounder Channing Crowder are still with the franchise, while Daniels and seventh-rounders Anthony Alabi (Chiefs) and Kevin Vickerson (Titans) have moved on.

Analysis

As thin as the Dolphins' secondary is, this is not a move that really hurts the Dolphins in any way. On the contrary, it is one with which I am particularly pleased. Though the draft pick is likely to be a late-round pick, it is good the Dolphins a least got something for him.

Daniels looked promising as a rookie in 2005, but in my opinion he failed to progress and might have even regressed over the past few years. His biggest positives are his height (6-1) and his versatility (he can play both corner and safety), but he doesn't possess great speed or athleticism for a corner and really isn't starting material. Daniels is a No. 3 or 4 corner at best, and on a good team possibly No. 4 or 5.

As you know if you've been reading the blog this offseason, I'd been pretty skeptical about Daniels' chances to make the team. I considered Will Allen, Andre' Goodman and Michael Lehan locks and I felt a couple of guys - Nathan Jones and Joey Thomas - would challenge Daniels for spots on the team. That seems to have come to fruition now.

With Daniels out of the picture, the Dolphins have four players vying for two final cornerback spots. (Assuming the team keeps five.) My predictions as boring and obvious as they can be. Nathan Jones and Joey Thomas - two players with Cowboys experience - seem like the mostly likely candidates. I consider Chris Roberson and Will Billingsley long shots at this point, though Billingsley's physical tools make him an interesting practice squad candidate.