Miami Dolphins: A Look at the Team's Wide Receiver Situation

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IJuly 30, 2012

Nov 14, 2010; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline (82) reaches for a pass during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Brownfield-US PRESSWIRE
Jonathan Brownfield-US PRESSWIRE

Last week, I analyzed the Miami Dolphins' running back situation. Now, it's time to talk about the Dolphins' wide receivers, who are much less promising than their teammates in the backfield. 

We'll start with Davone Bess, who is really the only sure thing the Dolphins have. Bess was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2008 after playing college ball at Hawaii. In 2008, Bess was third among NFL rookies in receptions with 54, and he never looked back.

Bess has 260 receptions over his four-year career and should flourish in the Dolphins' new West Coast offense. He is more of a natural slot receiver and will get the chance to run a lot of shorter, over the middle slants in Joe Philbin's passing scheme. 

The next two receivers are newcomers who could be right behind  Bess on the depth chart. Legedu Naanee and Chad Johnson are both very interesting additions in their own right. 

In 2007, Naanee was drafted out of Boise State in the fifth round by the San Diego Chargers. Naanee is average sized at 6'2", 220 lbs, but is known for being extremely versatile. He actually originally picked Boise State because they gave him the chance to play quarterback.

Naanee lined up all over the field for the Chargers but was never that productive. Last season, his only one in Carolina, Naanee was given a more secure receiver role and had career highs in catches (44) and receiving yards (467).

Johnson is well known by everyone, so I don't need to rehash his past much. But he was extremely disappointing last season with New England, so he comes into Miami as a big question mark. If he can get back to at least close to his old form, he will be a big help to the offense.

Brian Hartline, Clyde Gates, Roberto Wallace and Marlon Moore are not new to the Dolphins but none have asserted themselves much so far. Hartline has enjoyed the most success, but he will be fighting for playing time this year.

Gates had only two catches in limited time at receiver as a rookie last year, but his potential to be a deep threat should get him on the field more this year. Miami Dolphins featured columnist Scott Altman is really high on Wallace, and I am just as excited as Altman about Wallace's potential.

Finally, Miami has three rookies—Rishard Matthews, B.J. Cunningham and Jeff Fuller—who could push for a spot. After Bess, Hartline and Gates, everything else is pretty wide open. Naanee and Johnson are the most proven after that, but both have had their struggles and are not guaranteed anything. 

There's no telling who will step up, but Fuller could have been a second or third-round pick if he had come out a year earlier and has an NFL frame at 6'4", 223 lbs.

The position is really wide open, so it will be interesting to see who makes the roster and starts. Don't forget about Charles Clay and rookie tight end Michael Egnew, who will be used a lot on passing downs as well. Philbin is going to have some tough calls to make in the next month.