Miami Dolphins: A Versatile Offensive Weapon in Charles Clay

Connor McKnightSenior Analyst IAugust 11, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 20:   Charles Clay #31 of the Miami Dolphins makes a catch against  Jairus Byrd #31 of the Buffalo Bills during a game  at Sun Life Stadium on November 20, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

While the Miami Dolphins look for new receiving weapons to replace the void Brandon Marshall left behind, one player that should see increased targets in the upcoming season is Charles Clay.

A sixth-round draft pick from Tulsa last year, Clay has seen an automatic fit with the Dolphins, taking snaps at both tight end and fullback. With this dual role, Clay notched a 233-yard season with three touchdowns, two of them coming in the final two games of the season.

When the Dolphins drafted Michael Egnew out of Missouri in the third round this season, it was expected that Clay were to resign to a fullback role.

A tight end in college, the sheer speed and strength of Clay allowed for the Dolphins to push the Tulsa star to fullback, where he helped create holes in the defense for running back Reggie Bush.

However, Clay’s speed consistently creates mismatches on passing plays. Generally covered by linebackers, Clay has an easier time breaking free from coverage than the average tight end.

Considering that head coach Joe Philbin used speedy tight end Jermichael Finley quite prolifically, tight ends were assumed to have an increased role in the Dolphins offense.

And Charles Clay just might be one of those key tight ends. Although he will continue to lead the way for Reggie Bush as a fullback, Clay will see some passing plays as well at tight end.

In the Dolphins' first preseason matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Clay was an efficient weapon in the passing game. With three catches for 49 yards, Clay seemed to be a favorite target for rookie quarterback and potential starter Ryan Tannehill, who hooked up with Clay for an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Versatility is a lost art in the NFL. Charles Clay not only provides a blocking force, but also a key red-zone target. Look for his increased role in the 2012-2013 season and in his future in his Miami.