Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dolphins sign converted defensive back Quinten Lawrence

The Miami Dolphins signed free agent defensive back Quinten Lawrence to an undisclosed contract Thursday, according to the team's official website.

A converted wide receiver, Lawrence gives the Dolphins eight cornerbacks currently under contract. That does not include veteran Will Allen, who is an unrestricted free agent when the market opens on March 13.

The Dolphins have 52 players on their 80-man offseason roster and 15 free agents, not including exclusive-rights free agents Jeron Mastrud and Austin Spitler that cannot sign with other teams if tendered a contract offer.


Background

A Lafayette, La. native, Lawrence lettered in football, basketball and track in high school before attending McNeese State. A two-way player for the Cowboys, Lawrence totaled 99 receptions for 1,905 yards and 15 touchdowns as a receiver, returned 22 kickoffs for 419 yards and took a punt back 70 yards for a score.

Lawrence (6-0, 184) was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the sixth round (175th overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft. He did a little of everything as a rookie, spending about a month on the practice squad but appearing in six games with one start at receiver. In all, he totaled one catch for nine yards, two rushes for 42 yards, 16 kickoffs for 317 yards (19.8 avg.) and five special-teams tackles.

In 2010, Lawrence was inactive for his only two games on the Chiefs' active roster while spending most of the season on the practice squad. It was during this time that he began working on the defensive side of the ball. By 2011 training camp, Lawrence had converted to cornerback full-time. He totaled 10 tackles in the preseason but spent the entire regular season on the team's practice squad.



Analysis

The Dolphins probably aren't in the market for a starting cornerback and Lawrence isn't going to fill that role anyway, but they could certainly use more depth with Will Allen nearing the end of the road and youngsters Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson still largely unproven. 

According to my source inside the Chiefs' organization, Lawrence took well to the cornerback position and overcame the lack of a full offseason to work on defense during the lockout to impress the coaching staff. My source says of Lawrence, "he came into camp and did a really good job...great tackler and not afraid to hit."

Lawrence obviously doesn't have much bulk at 184 pounds, but he seems like he has an aggressive personality and physical style of play as a defender. At his best he boasts 4.3 speed with a track background and has some skills as a returner as well, so versatility can't hurt his quest to make the team.

That being said, Lawrence has never seen the field as a defender during the regular season, so it's hard to say he's close to making the roster or having an impact on the field. At this point, he'll have to make his mark on special teams (and potentially compete in the return game) before hoping to stick as a reserve defensive back.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


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