Miami Dolphins’ Bobby McCain emerges as excellent NFL slot corner

Miami Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain celebrates a defensive stop against the Oakland Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium. (Andres Leiva / The Palm Beach Post)

Bobby McCain has always been accurately described as feisty, scrappy and tough.

But after the 2017 season, it is also fair to accurately describe the Dolphins’ starting slot corner as reliable, dependable and, most importantly, good.

“Just being consistent in my technique, being consistent in making plays and trying to do the right thing,” McCain said at Miami’s pack up day. “If you do things right, good things will happen.”

It would be quite easy to guess that Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Reshad Jones received the three highest defensive season grades as rated by Pro Football Focus.

But would you have guessed PFF ranked McCain as having Miami’s fourth-best defensive season?

Well, McCain’s 80.1 was a giant jump from his first two seasons, when some wondered if Miami should draft or sign a player to replace him. Slot corner is really not at all a position of need now, on a team with many positions of need.

[RELATED STORY: Top 10 Miami Dolphins Offseason Priorities]

“He plays with no fear,” Miami coach Adam Gase said of McCain in December. “He plays with no hesitation.”

McCain posted career highs in interceptions (2), passes defended (7) and tackles (33).

All season it seemed like Miami’s corners were giving way too much space to opposing receivers. It led, in part, to Byron Maxwell’s release and the starting of a rookie corner, Cordrea Tankersley, who was learning the NFL game on the fly. But McCain consistently put himself in a position to at least have a chance to break up plays.

By the end of the season, Miami’s young corners had shown positive steps. And the best news is, Xavien Howard, Tankersly and McCain are all 24 years old.

“When you see first- and second-year guys, even third-year guys, young guys that are coming into their own and just embracing what they’re doing, that’s big,” McCain said. “That’s what you like to see.”

At times this season, Miami’s secondary had debilitating mental errors. But Miami coaches have cited McCain as a player who is almost always in the right place. He sets a good example.

Miami’s defense finished the season ranked 16th in yards allowed and 29th in points per game allowed (24.6). The Dolphins also ranked 29th in takeaways (only 9 interceptions and 6 fumble recoveries).

McCain knows Miami’s defense, in general, underachieved.

“This team, people talk about talent,” McCain said. “This team has a lot of talent but talent doesn’t get you anywhere. This team does have … We work hard and the season didn’t go the way we wanted. We all know that and we had a lot of ups and downs; but at the end of the day, we’ve just got to come back this coming season and just know that things have got to change. We’ve got to put a stamp on it.”

McCain believes Miami’s defense can and will be more assertive, aggressive and successful next season.

“Just consistency,” he said. “Once we start making plays, once we start coming along, just consistency in what we’re doing because at the end of the day, we’ve got to put the team on our back. The ball is going to go up in the air regardless if you like it or not. How I see it is next year, when we come back, we’ve all got to have the mindset that there’s no 50/50 balls. The ball is ours once it’s up in the air.”

Top 8 Miami Dolphins NFL Draft targets in tonight’s CFB title game

Miami Dolphins: Could T.J. McDonald be a deceptive ‘hybrid’ weapon in ’18?

Miami Dolphins: Ranking Best 2018 Road Game Trips

Miami Dolphins’ Kenyan Drake proves worth as every-down back

Jupiter’s Cody Parkey is a free agent: ‘I want to be here’ with Dolphins

Get stories in real time by liking the The Daily Dolphin Facebook Page