Sunday, January 24, 2021

What does 2020 hold for Cordrea Tankersley?

As the Dolphins 2017 season unraveled before our very eyes, former third-round draft pick Cordrea Tankersley seemed like a bright spot. Making his debut against the New Orleans Saints, Tankersley looked every bit the future NFL starter, but since then things haven’t gone quite as well.

At 6’1″ and 199 pounds, and with a 4.40 40-yard time, Tankersley came out of Clemson with some serious draft buzz. PFF graded his as the best press corner in the draft, and he allowed opposing quarterbacks a passer rating of just 40.6.

Not all of his traits were great, a tendency to be very handsy and too aggressive. Falling to Miami in the third round seemed like a win-win for both parties. Tankersley would get the chance to learn without the immediate pressure, or need, to be a starter.

Cordrea Tankersley caught in the eye of a storm

In what would prove to be an omen for his first three seasons in Miami, Hurricane Irma derailed the start of the Dolphins season in 2017. Causing the team to play all sixteen games without a break, starting in week two.

Cordrea Tankersley made his NFL debut in London against the Saints © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Cordrea Tankersley made his NFL debut in London against the Saints © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Finally getting on the field in week 4 in London, Cordrea Tankersley would post what would turn out to be his best game in his three years to date. Facing Drew Brees and the Saints, Tankersley posted a 69.0 coverage grade, and a 78.1 tackling grade on 73 snaps.

In his first season, he would not concede a penalty until his tenth game and commit only two all season. He missed time with ankle and shoulder injuries, but as the year wound down Cordrea Tankersley looked like a great find for the Dolphins heading in 2018.

It hadn’t all been rosy, he went from great 6 receptions for 36 yards against New Orleans, to appalling, 5 catches for 95 yards against New England, and all stops in between. But as rookie seasons go for third-round picks it was a solid base to build on.

However, something happened in the offseason of 2018 that made the Dolphins staff turn against him in a major way. Given what has since happened to that staff it makes you wonder, but a promising third-round pick suddenly couldn’t get on the field. Like at all.

In 2018 he played 99 special teams snaps and just 24 on defense. Of those 24 defensive snaps, only 14 were coverage snaps, where he allowed 3 catches on 3 targets for 42 yards against the Bears in week 8.

Whether the tide was about to turn for him we will never know, as he would end up injuring his knee in practice. A torn ACL that would end his 2018, and ultimately his 2019 as well. It seems like an abundance of caution that he was shut down again in 2019.

Like many others in the 2019 season, the new staff of Brian Flores seemed to wrap Cordrea Tankersley in cotton wool at the end of the season. Tank did return to practice on October 16th but was shut down for the season just three weeks later.

Does Cordrea Tankersley make the roster in 2020

At this point, the chances of Cordrea Tankersley making the roster seem difficult. The free-agent addition of Byron Jones and the drafting of Noah Igbinoghene make the road much steeper for him this season. Nik Needham excelled towards the end of 2020 and is all but guaranteed a spot.

However, Tankersley’s ceiling is still pretty high, depending on his full recovery from the ACL surgery. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, he is a cheap option at just north of $1 million per spotrac.

While we don’t really know what happened in the camp of 2018, if he can make the team in 2020 you have to feel Brian Flores can work his magic and make Tankersley a very solid professional. His ability to play multiple positions in the secondary would make him a valuable piece.

The narrative seems written for Cordrea Tankersley to make a stunning comeback under coach Flores tutelage. With the Saints’ game upside on his resume, Tank has to be given one last shot to prove he can make it. And this kid has enough fight in him to make it count.

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