There’s a common turn-of-phrase in NFL draft scouting communities: “If you can ball, the NFL will find you.” It doesn’t matter where you come from, whether you’re from a traditional powerhouse like Ohio State, or from a small, Division II school like Texas A&M-Commerce. All that matters is if you can play football. Miami Dolphins cornerback Kader Kohou showed the team he could play all through training camp. He showed the world he could play on Sunday.
Kohou came to the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent after the 2022 NFL draft, and many thought he was unlikely to even make the team. Long odds have never been something that Kohou has been afraid of, however. His entire life, from the beginnings in Ivory Coast, he’s been the underdog. And he’s always exceeded expectations.
Miami came into the season opener against the New England Patriots in a bit of a pickle at the cornerback position. The Dolphins had one side of the field locked down with perennial All-Pro Xavien Howard. But with Byron Jones on the PUP list to start the season, there were questions as to how the rest of the position would perform.
Kohou may not have started the game, but he may have given the coaching staff something to think about going forward when his opportunity finally did come. Though Kohou only saw 18 snaps on Sunday, he made the most of his time on the field. At the end of the day, Kohou made three tackles, had one pass breakup, and forced a fumble. Kohou was all over the field and was a force to be reckoned with.
While the Kader Kohou stat line may not seem all that impressive, it’s more about how – and when – Kohou made those plays for the Dolphins defense. Kohou consistently flashed with his effort on Sunday, as evidenced by his tackle-for-loss. Kohou made a great read on the play. Then he trusted his instincts, moved like he was shot out of a cannon, and made a solid tackle on a much bigger running back.
In the fourth quarter, Kohou once again showed that he has what it takes to step up in big situations. Tasked with covering a much bigger Hunter Henry, Kohou stuck to his man down the field and put himself in great position to make a play. And make a play he did! Kohou was able to leap with Henry and get his hand on the ball to knock it away, making a Patriots victory seem all but impossible at that point.
Kohou showed great fundamentals and instincts on those plays, but it was his late-game heroics that may have earned him more playing time for the Dolphins in the future. Late in the game, as the Patriots were trying desperately to mount a comeback, quarterback Mac Jones hit wide receiver Nelson Agholor over the middle. Kohou was in the right place at the right time to make a play, and he did so in spectacular fashion.
Kohou came up and made a solid hit on Agholor, jarring the ball free. The play was ruled a fumble, and the recovery was made by last year’s star rooke Jaelan Phillips. That fumble all but sealed yet another Dolphins home victory over the Patriots.
Byron Jones will be on the PUP list until at least Week 4. Nik Needham is a solid cornerback, but plays better from the slot position. While a bit undersized for an outside corner at just 5’10” and 195 pounds, Kader Kohou may have just earned himself a shot at some significant playing time for the Dolphins in the future. Maybe even a starting shot opposite Howard.