Buying or Selling Top 2013 NFL Draft-Eligible WRs as Fits for Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins' surprising early-season success has masked many of the pressing concerns the team had entering the regular season, but those issues are slowly resurfacing on the periphery.
This offensive line clearly needs work, as does this shoddy secondary and depthless pass rush.
However, no positional unit is more desperate for an upgrade than the wide receiver corps—which is the status quo from the offseason.
Although Brian Hartline has emerged as one of Ryan Tannehill's most trusted weapons and Davone Bess hasn't wavered, the Dolphins can't expect to become legitimate contenders without a topflight wide receiver.
It's remarkable that Ryan Tannehill has managed to keep Miami not only afloat but in the playoff hunt with this cast of wideouts.
Just imagine what he can do with a viable No. 1 wide receiver at his disposal.
As the college football season winds to a close, it's time to take an early look at which top collegiate wideouts the Dolphins will and won't target this April.
Buying: Keenan Allen
California's Keenan Allen currently projects as the best wide receiver in this year's draft class.
Hence, he might be off the board long before the Dolphins are on the clock. But, considering how desperate Miami is for a viable No. 1 wideout, a trade-up is certainly in the cards.
And, hey, who knows—maybe he'll still be on the board when the Dolphins pick.
Anyway, Allen, a 6'3", 210 pound junior, caught 98 passes in 2011. Although his numbers dipped this season—on pace for approximately 66 receptions—quarterback Zach Maynard has struggled, forcing Cal to lean heavily on its rushing attack.
One of the most appealing aspects of Allen's game is his background in Cal's Spread West Coast offense.
His knowledge and familiarity with the WCO makes him a logical target for the Dolphins.
Selling: Robert Woods
Robert Woods is probably the most recognized wide receiver in college football today.
The 6'1", 190 pound USC junior has been Matt Barkley's go-to target since last season, when they connected 111 times for 1,292 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Although Woods is only on pace for an 80-catch campaign this season, he's still on track to reel in approximately 15 touchdowns.
His production, 4.5 speed and experience in a pro-style offense makes him a first-round caliber player, but he's not one the Dolphins should spend a valuable draft pick on.
Besides Jabar Gaffney, Miami doesn't have a wide receiver taller than 6'1". The Dolphins need a possession receiver who can complement Brian Hartline's speed and Davone Bess' quickness.
Moreover, the 'Phins desperately need one in the red zone.
Woods does play in a West Coast Offense, so he'll be on Miami's radar nonetheless.
Ultimately, however, there are other wideouts who better fit what the Dolphins truly need.
Buying: Terrance Williams
Baylor's Terrance Williams is one of, if not the most complete wide receiver in the 2013 Draft Class.
He weighs in at a solid 6'3", 205 pounds, runs a 4.5 40 and shreds opposing secondaries on a weekly basis.
This year, Williams has already accrued 71 receptions for 1,340 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's relishing his role as Baylor's No. 1 wide receiver, and that alpha dog mentality—among other factors—makes him a very appealing option for the Dolphins.
One of those other factors is Williams' versatility.
Not only can he burn defensive backs with straight-line speed, but he can also burn them with precise route running in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Baylor's offense emphasizes short, quick routes much like a West Coast offense.
This is why 2012 first-round pick Kendall Wright was speculatively connected to the Dolphins last April.
Finally, Jeff Ireland is a Baylor alum, so there's always a chance he'll channel that pipeline even though he has yet to draft a player from the university.
Williams is the most ideal fit for the Dolphins, and he could be a realistic option in the middle of the first round.
Selling: DeAndre Hopkins
Clemson junior DeAndre Hopkins is a touchdown machine. He has already found pay-dirt 13 times this season, putting him on track to finish the year with up to 20.
Despite his uncanny numbers, the Dolphins won't be targeting Hopkins in April.
For starters, he's only 6'1", 200 pounds.
Again, Miami doesn't need any more short, speedy wide receivers. Hopkins could bring some welcome explosiveness to a wide receiver corps that still lacks a legitimate home run threat, but the 'Phins would be better served pursuing a player that brings physicality to the table.
And, here's something else to consider: Clemson wide receivers don't succeed in the NFL.
Oakland's Jacoby Ford is the most recognizable wideout the university has spewed out in decades, and that's not saying much.
Buying: Justin Hunter
One of the wide receivers that offers the dynamic and physical presence the Dolphins need is Tennessee's Justin Hunter.
He's 6'4", boasts sub 4.5 speed and has already caught 56 receptions for 838 yards and 10 touchdowns already this season.
However, there's one major caveat to Hunter: Bulk.
He weighs in at a lanky 200 pounds, so he'll have to pack considerable muscle onto his 6'4" frame before he can realistically expect to thrive as an NFL wideout.
Hunter's slim build begs the question: Does he have the strength to create separation from NFL defensive backs?
If the answer is no, then don't expect the Dolphins to pursue him on draft day.
However, Hunter's potential makes him an appealing prospect—one that might be worth rolling the dice on.
Selling: Da'Rick Rogers
From one current Tennessee Vol to a former one.
Da'Rick Rogers burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2011, amassing 67 receptions for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns. The 6'3", 208 pound wide receiver was primed for a huge 2012 campaign, but he was dismissed from the team in August after failing drug tests.
Rogers transferred to Tennessee Tech just before the start of this season and he picked up right where he left off at Tennessee. He has 78 receptions for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns this year, which serves as a reminder that he has first-round talent despite his troubles.
However, all of the talent in the world might not be enough to persuade Jeff Ireland the Dolphins to roll the dice on a wide receiver with any red flags.
This team got burned by Brandon Marshall and Chad Johnson, and Joe Philbin has made it clear that he only wants high character guys in his locker room.
Rogers will need to prove that he has completely matured and dedicated to even warrant consideration from the 'Phins.
Buying: Ryan Swope
You won't see Ryan Swope's name on many 'Best Wide Receivers of the 2013 Draft Class' lists, but he's a player every Dolphins fan should have an eye on.
Swope is a 6'1", 206 pound senior from Texas A&M who was Ryan Tannehill's go-to target in 2010 and 2011. In those two seasons combined, the pair connected 161 times for more than 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns.
This alone makes Swope an obvious target for the Dolphins.
Beyond that, he played under offensive coordinator Mike Sherman for three seasons at Texas A&M, so he's already very familiar with Miami's offense—another significant plus.
Swope's production has dipped considerably this year, but the fact that he exceeded so much with Tannehill and Sherman means he'll be a fixture on the Dolphins' radar throughout the pre-draft process.