The wide receiver position for the Miami Dolphins has evolved from being a position of weakness in 2012 to a position of good (albeit slightly overpaid) quality in 2013.
In 2014, that hasn’t changed, saved for a few new players added to the mix. We’re going to look at the Dolphins’ wide outs, where they’d fit in the depth chart, as well as determining who will stay, and who will go.
WR 1: Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace isn’t a number one wide receiver.
At best, you’d want him as your speed threat, someone who would just run down the field and catch the football. Unfortunately, Miami really doesn’t have a true number one, which is why this is where Wallace resides on the depth chart.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as part of the problem Wallace had in his first year in Miami was how he was used. Old offensive coordinator Mike Sherman used him strictly as a speed guy, and never attempted to get creative with him. His successor, Bill Lazor, has shown that he’s willing to be creative during OTAs, and attempt to get Wallace the ball in space.
This would be a major boost for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins’ offense.
WR 2: Brian Hartline
Brian Hartline has been a rock for Miami the last two years as Ryan Tannehill’s most consistent receiver. Expect this to continue in 2014, however don’t be too surprised if this is his last season in Miami, who seems to have drafted a player that could succeed him in Jarvis Landry.
WR 3: Rishard Matthews
From the looks of it, Rishard Matthews will take the third wide receiver role.
This isn’t based on the current depth chart on Ourlads.com (which has Brandon Gibson in the role), but rather based off of last season’s performance (which it should be mentioned looked good for Gibson until he got hurt), as well as the battle between the two players this season.
For right now, I’m naming Matthews as the favorite, for he could provide more to the Dolphins than Gibson, and is much more versatile.
WR 4: Brandon Gibson
Brandon Gibson will still be a Miami Dolphin, as this team will need depth at the position.
You’ll also see him as the Dolphins could use a lot of four and five wide receiver sets.
WR 5: Jarvis Landry
In due time, Landry will be one of the Dolphins’ top receivers. He has the versatility to line up both outside and in the slot, has great hands, and his speed, while not great, is still pretty good.
Landry is also pretty good at running routes. He’ll perform well in 2014, and will not surprise anyone if he moves up the depth chart.
WR 6 (Special Teams): Matt Hazel
Coastal Carolina’s Matt Hazel could eventually develop into being a starting wide receiver, but this is something that will take time.
Getting used to the speed of the game will take a little more time with Hazel, and he will also have to add some bulk to his otherwise slender frame.
Expect some special teams reps, but not much else unless an injury pops up during the season that thrusts him into action.
RB/WR: Marcus Thigpen
More so than Hazel, Thigpen is Miami’s sixth wide receiver. He’s the favorite to remain Miami’s return man, but more importantly, he has a skill set that fits well with Lazor’s offense.
Thigpen could work well out of the backfield, but more likely than not, expect the Dolphins to use him as a fifth receiver when they need five wideouts on the field, or on screen passes. Getting the ball to Thigpen in space, like with Wallace, would help make the offense more explosive.
Last guys out: Armon Binns, Damian Williams, Rantavious Wooten.
With wide receiver being a crowded position, tough cuts will have to be made as the Dolphins will need more depth at other positions.
The last three out will each put up a fight to make the roster, but will fall short at the end, barring an injury.
Armon Binns looked impressive last season prior to a torn ACL during training camp. He has been working hard to rehabilitate his knee, but the drafting of two wide receivers and the continued development of Rishard Matthews puts more pressure on him.
Damian Williams was signed as a free agent this spring, primarily as a possible return man. Expect Thigpen to beat him out for the job.
Then there’s undrafted free agent Rantavious Wooten, who has shown some promise in OTAs. He’s a possible practice squad guy from Miami.
The Dolphins aren’t very top heavy at receiver, but they do have quality in their quantity. Who wins out to claim the last few slots will be one of the most exciting competitions to follow during training camp.