What Did the Miami Dolphins Learn About the Wide Receivers at the Combine?
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The nature of those answers comes not just in the form of the numbers the receivers put up on the field, but also in the answers those receivers gave to teams in private meetings.
Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin enjoyed a great deal of success as the Packers offensive coordinator without ever spending a first-round pick on a wide receiver or even spending top dollar on a free agent wideout.
There's only one wide receiver that's being talked about at No. 12, and that's Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson. His stock now, however, may be on the decline.
Patterson displayed today some of the same concerns that we had with him during film study. He was choppy in and out of his breaks, and did not display fluidity on his routes.
Throughout his workout, he let the ball get into his body and struggled to catch the ball cleanly. Early in the workout he caught the ball extremely well, but as the workout went on he dropped some passes he should easily have caught.
As expected, he ran extremely well (unofficial 4.37 40), but he is far from a polished product, despite being so highly regarded in some circles. **More concerning is that we heard that Patterson has been very unimpressive in interviews, which will likely lead to him sliding down draft boards.
In short, what the Dolphins learned about Patterson is that he's not yet a refined receiver, but that he has a lot of physical talent. Whether he can be coached up or not is another question entirely.
West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin was already on many teams' radars, and his blazing 4.34 40-yard dash and 4.01 20-yard shuttle will only boost that stock further. He's not just some track star, either; he has the production to back it up, with more than 100 catches and more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons. His production has also trended upward since his freshman year.
The concern with Austin is his size. At just 5'9" and 176 pounds, there has to be a plan in place to get him touches. While he may help the Dolphins in their need for speed, he doesn't add anything in their search for red-zone targets.
Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter had a great showing on the field, but unlike his teammate, we don't know how well it went behind closed doors. He entered the combine with a second-round grade from NFL.com, and a 4.44 40-yard dash probably helped him out a bit, as did his 39.5-inch vertical and 136-inch broad jump—both among the top five wide receivers.
Hunter had just one productive year at Tennessee, but it was a monster year with 73 catches for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns. That kind of production at the SEC level should have had scouts looking his way long before the combine, and with a strong on-field showing, that attention may grow stronger.
It's not just about the top-end guys, though. The Dolphins could use depth at receiver as well, and in that vein, there are a couple of receivers who may have popped up on the radar.
TCU receiver Josh Boyce is considered a third-round prospect, but his stock could soar after strong showings across the board at the combine. He finished in the top five in the 40-yard dash (4.38 seconds), the bench press (22 reps), broad jump (131 inches), three-cone drill (6.68 seconds) and the 60-yard shuttle (11.26 seconds).
At 5'11" and 206 pounds, he's not going to win a lot of size matchups, but if a coordinator can find a way to get him the ball, his athleticism could be a huge asset. It's fair to wonder whether he can hold his own against top competition, having played in the MWC/Big 12 in college. His production there has been consistent, though, as he recorded more than 60 catches, more than 890 yards and at least seven touchdowns in each of the past two seasons.
Rutgers wide receiver Mark Harrison impressed with a strong 4.46 40-yard dash, and his 129" broad jump and 38.5" vertical jump both ranked him among the top five receivers. His 6'3" frame and 35" long arms give him the build to be a great red-zone threat, and his numbers at the combine prove he has the speed to threaten a defense vertically as well.
It's clear that no matter which way the Dolphins go at wide receiver—whether they address it in free agency or the draft, the first, second, third or any other round—they'll have plenty of options for players who can add some much-needed explosiveness to the passing game.
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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