Xavien Howard, drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, cashed in on a five-year, $72 million dollar contract in the summer of 2019. At the time, he was coming off of a pro-bowl year where he had a league-high seven interceptions, allowed a 52.4% completion percentage, and a 61.2 QB rating.
Although plagued with injuries like fellow teammate DeVante Parker, when he’s healthy, he’s a huge contributor. While not the most physical corner, Howard is one of the best at closing on routes and reading receivers. He shows efficient footwork, sound technique, and is really good when he can play off and close on routes with vision.
The problem is the Dolphins ran a ton of man coverage with single high looks to help with their porous run defense. Howard struggles with his jam punch and he can get caught peaking in the backfield in man coverage.
His excellent closure grade and poor collision ability make him incredibly susceptible to double moves. That being said, he does a good job of keeping his cushion deep and almost never gets beat over the top in zone. He can play outside or in the slot if needed and when he’s on and in the right defense he can completely eliminate a receiver or one side of the field.
With that being said, let’s take a look at why Miami Dolphins cornerback Howard has all the tools to be a shutdown corner in the NFL.