Miami Dolphins Positional Breakdown: 2015 Wide Receivers
The Miami Dolphins clearly went into this offseason with the intention of bolstering the receiving core, attempting to give Ryan Tannehill more weapons in this pivotal season. The team appeared to make very calculated moves, and was able to assemble a group that can help the Dolphins put up enough points to compete with teams like the New England Patriots in the division.
Selected 14th Overall out of Louisville.
DeVante Parker will drink your milkshake. He is big. He is strong. And he is fast.
The Miami Dolphins’ first round pick is going to provide the team with a physical presence at the wide receiver position for the first time since Brandon Marshall was acquired from Denver. Parker’s ability to high point and attack the football is very impressive. His tenacity resembles that of a basketball player fighting for a rebound. Parker also has an immense catch radius, which will make him a godsend for Ryan Tannehill, who has struggled with his ability to pinpoint deep passes.
What to Expect:
DeVante Parker will be the team’s number one option, and will get looks from Ryan Tannehill on every single play. I have already detailed his skill set in a previous post, and how he can help the Dolphins’ offense develop as a primary target. DeVante Parker will fill a role Miami has lacked for years: a true number one receiver.
Team’s 2014 2nd Round Pick, Emerged as a top target in his rookie season.
Landry’s best asset in the NFL will be his heart, toughness, and work ethic. He is a scrappy player, who fights for every single yard and catch. You will never catch Jarvis Landry taking a play off, which is a breath of fresh air for Miami fans after dealing with a certain speedster wide receiver that had a tendency to decide fighting for a pass wasn’t really his thing.
Jarvis Landry’s hands are also very impressive. He demonstrated strength and reliability as a rookie with Miami. He rarely dropped passes, and showed off the ability to make acrobatic plays for surprising completions.
What to Expect:
Despite being the only receiver on the team with substantial experience in Bill Lazor’s offense, I don’t believe that Landry will be at the top of the depth chart for this season. His skill set makes him incredibly well suited to play as the number 2, and make plays in the slot, or with his savvy route running ability. (That being said, the number one and two receivers are really determined by skill set, as the team will have both players on the field for the vast majority of their plays. It’s just about who fits each role.)
Landry’s main role will be as Tannehill’s safety blanket. He knows that with solid hands, immense toughness, and preexisting chemistry, Tannehill will be looking his way in crucial situations. Jarvis Landry will be relied on heavily in the game-deciding situations in which Miami failed so often last season. If the team wants to start winning close games, it will be important to establish players like Jarvis Landry as reliable options for third downs and on the goal line.
Acquired from New Orleans in a trade for a third round pick, and Dannell Ellerbe.
Miami’s problem before signing Mike Wallace was that the team lacked speed. The infamous Davone Bess and Brian Hartline tandem was great on slants, but couldn’t gain yards after the catch or stretch the field to save their lives. The Dolphins clearly wanted to avoid that situation recurring, so it was important to find a replacement for Mike Wallace’s as soon as possible. Kenny Stills possesses immense speed, and will help the Dolphins’ offense stretch the field in 2015. He has the ability to use shiftiness and acceleration to make plays down the field.
What to Expect:
Kenny Stills is not going to be an every down receiver for Miami. He is not who you want on the field in most goal line situations or in short yardage. Despite this, he will be a playmaker for the Dolphins’ offense. His job will be to consistently catch one or two big passes a game, and to help blow the top off of a defense and create opportunities underneath for Parker and Landry to make things happen.
It would also be interesting if Bill Lazor got creative with packages for Stills’ speed. Mike Wallace was always underutilized in terms of allowing a player with immense physical talent to utilize their abilities and make defenders miss in the open field. Look for Stills to get looks in some interesting packages with the Dolphins.
“Hey, we’re pretty young at receiver, and I know this SUPER old dude who could maybe still jog around a bit.” –Joe Philbin, probably.
Greg Jennings was never the fastest, stronger, or biggest. But, playing with Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre doesn’t hurt your chances to succeed as a receiver. Jennings does possess good quickness and route running, but the question is how effective he can still be at his current age. Which is old.
What to Expect:
No, Greg Jennings is not going to revive his career in Miami and have 1,000 yards and 10 TDs. He probably won’t even have 600 yards or 6 TDs. Jennings’ impact will come off of the field, and as a reserve. He is a savvy veteran, who brings years of experience and solid play to a relatively unproven group. His knowledge of Joe Philbin’s system will make him a valuable asset for the team, especially considering his 10 years in the league trump that of Landry, Parker, Stills, and Rishard Matthews COMBINED.
Shout Out to the Big Fellas- Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims:
Yes, I am aware that they aren’t wide receivers. But in today’s NFL, catching the ball is pretty important for a tight end too. Jordan Cameron will be a huge addition for Miami if he can overcome his issues with concussions, as his size makes him a matchup nightmare. Charles Clay’s size often meant that bigger safeties could contend with him, but Cameron will require the attention of a linebacker.
Dion Sims could also be a solid contributor, and is a player I have a huge amount of faith in. He has the run blocking ability to be effective every down, and he possess the size to make plays on the goal line and in short yardage. It’s upsetting to see Charles Clay go, but it is hard not to like what Miami has done at tight end, acquiring Cameron and leaving a space for the possible emergence of Dion Sims.
The moves at wide receiver that Miami made this offseason were calculated, patient, and intelligent. The work the team did at the position is one of the most encouraging signs for the new front office. They did not bite on big money players, or panic about whether or not someone would be available at 14th overall. Dennis Hickey and Mike Tannenbaum managed to acquire the cap friendly Stills in a trade (to fill the need stretching the field), sat pretty at 14th and let DeVante Parker come to them instead of giving up the house to move up in a panic, and waited out the storm to sign Greg Jennings to a very fair contract.
The way I see it, Miami is set for the foreseeable future at wide receiver. They have a young speedster in Kenny Stills, and second year slot receiver in Jarvis Landry, and a big-bodied dominant rookie in DeVante Parker. Hopefully, these players can mature with Ryan Tannehill, and they can develop consistent chemistry in the team’s offense.
Based on the roles filled by each player, Miami’s new receivers will be able to feed off of each other, and allow the offense to take a true step forward in the upcoming season. With Stills stretching the field deep, Jordan Cameron creating mismatches for linebackers and safeties, not to mention DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry making plays underneath, the Dolphins have assembled a solid group of pass catchers for Ryan Tannehill.