Bryce Hall and nickel Michael Carter II appear to be locked in as starters for the foreseeable future but the third and fourth (dime package) starting jobs are still up for grabs. Brandin Echols became the secondary corner on the outside after Bless Austin was released but the rookie put together a mixed performance before his Week 10 injury.
Over a nine-game span, Pro Football Focus credited the Kentucky product with a poor 42.2 grade overall and a 46.7 in coverage. Based on the eye test, Echols was better than that most weeks but he still may not be the answer.
Now in his absence, we get a chance to see whether any of these other youngsters are.
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Early Returns Were Lousy
In Week 11, undrafted rookie Isaiah Dunn got the start on the outside based on his size and speed. Unfortunately, neither of those helped his awareness as the training camp favorite was burnt multiple times in blown coverage.
Needless to say, he did not start against the Houston Texans. 2021 fifth-rounder Jason Pinnock did not get the nod either. Nothing has clicked for the Pittsburgh product in year one and he’s allowed a 100% catch rate in limited action.
Instead, 2020 UDFA Javelin Guidry logged 57 defensive snaps in Week 12 and earned every single one of them. The 5-foot-9 speedster is not built for the outside but he has made an effort to learn it, and he’s done admirably so far.
Long-term, Guidry is probably more of the perfect dime or versatile fifth CB because of his range and skill set, but he’s outplayed all the rookies not named Carter in 2021.
At least until Echols returns, that’s probably enough to steal the starting job away from Dunn or Pinnock.
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Guidry’s Bounce Back Effort
The Utah product has blossomed into another one of those undrafted gems on Joe Douglas’ resume. He took over for the injured Brian Poole in the slot during the second half of his rookie campaign and this year he began the season as that super-sub fourth corner.
Guidry did get the first shot at the outside job after Echols went down but after getting torched by Stefon Diggs and Buffalo, he was relegated to the bench in Week 11. It’s possible that head coach Robert Saleh will continue to mix and match based on the opposition’s receivers — for example, the Texans employ smaller and quicker ones while the Dolphins had height on the outside — or perhaps the effort in Houston solidified his role.
The 2020 UDFA had his best outing of the season, with an 84.9 grade according to PFF. That included an 83.3 in coverage, in which he allowed zero catches off two targets.
It was a shutdown effort through and through. Guidry wasn’t targeted often because his receivers weren’t open and his run defense and tackling continued to impress.
Despite his size, the defensive back currently holds 82.2 tackle marks and a 73.3 run D score this year. Remember his game-saving shoestring stop in the open-field on Tennessee Titans juggernaut Derrick Henry?
Right now, Guidry might be Saleh’s best bet on the outside and that may still be the case once Echols returns.