Wide Receiver Is Miami Dolphins' Most Glaring Offensive Need
The Miami Dolphins’ defense needs to be addressed. There are several positions of need, and it's probable that Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano will use their first-round draft pick, and most mid-round picks, on defensive players. (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/364617-dolphins-desperate-for-wide-receiver-but-must-draft-defense )
However, Miami's offense still needs some major improvements—most notably in the area of wide receiver.
The Dolphins move the ball on the ground effectively, but the NFL is becoming more of a passing league, and Miami needs to adapt to this so they don't get left behind.
Additionally, Chad Henne's offensive weapons are limited and there are concerns this could result in him regressing next year, but it's clear that Miami has found its franchise quarterback. Sure, he made some mistakes, but with experience he can iron out those errors and become a great QB.
Now, the wide receiver issue. And it is a really big issue.
Ted Ginn Jr. was drafted to become Miami’s number one receiver. This has never happened. Ginn has had his opportunity, but now it's time for Miami to look elsewhere. Ginn is an excellent special teams player with exceptional speed, but a top receiver he is not.
Last year, Miami's top touchdown scorer from wide receiver was Brian Hartline with a paltry three. Hartline did impress though on limited snaps, and Miami will hope for more improvements from him this year. Davone Bess was also impressive last year, proving a reliable receiver on third down.
Greg Camarillo is a good receiver, but not a great one. Despite this, he performs well when he is given the chance, and Sparano will hope he can avoid the injuries that have plagued his Dolphins' career.
Unfortunately, Miami's third-round pick in last year's draft, Pat Turner, didn't see a single snap. Miami will hope he shows huge improvements this year, otherwise his release would appear inevitable.
None of these guys have shown that they are capable of becoming a standout receiver in the NFL, so who will become that number one receiver?
A lot of fans have pointed to Brandon Marshall as the solution. He wants out of Denver, but would come at the cost of a first-round pick. Even if Miami was willing to give up the pick, he comes with a lot of baggage.
If Marshall struggled to stay on the right path in Denver, how would he cope with Miami's lifestyle? The guy will make big plays, but at a cost of a first-rounder. That, coupled with his personal demons, and signing Marshall surely wouldn't be the right move to make.
With the money that a big-name receiver like Marshall would command, the Dolphins could address more than one need in other positions. And, as previously mentioned, Miami has more needs than just at WR.
Tony Sparano was quick to point out Marshall isn't on Miami's radar at a press conference this morning, and T.O. won't be an option either. This implies that the Dolphins will look to the draft for their go-to guy.
What options are there in the draft?
Dez Bryant. He should be available at 12, if Buffalo and Denver both pass on him. However, he will also be a diva.
Regardless of his ability, which is exceptional, wide receivers who are divas spell trouble. Look at Michael Crabtree last year. Other examples are Marshall and T.O., both looking for a new team, with neither having any success.
Almost unthinkably, some critics believe Bryant is no longer a certainty for a first-round pick. The likelihood is that he goes within the first 32 picks, but if that isn't the case, and most can't see that situation unfolding, will the Dolphins move up to select him early in the second?
A more realistic solution may be somewhere in the middle of the second round.
There are a lot of top receivers who will go in rounds one and two. One of these top receivers will slip to Miami's 43rd pick.
Possibilities include Golden Tate, Demaryius Thomas, and Arrelious Benn. One of these will most likely be there for Miami.
Golden Tate had a very impressive Combine, while Thomas and Benn are both admired by Miami's hierarchy, and any could be selected should they slip into Miami's radar.
Even if these guys are gone by Miami's second-round pick, then there are even more options to consider.
Damien Williams and Brandon LaFell could also land in Miami. LaFell would be the favoured option, and several mock drafts see this scenario playing out. At 6'3'' and 211 lbs, LaFell is a big target, something that Miami sorely needs.
Erik Decker is seen as a third or fourth-round pick, and at one point was projected as a late first-rounder earlier in the year. Unfortunately, injury ended his chances of this, but at 6'3'' and 217 lbs, Decker would present a great opportunity should he be available when Miami picks in the fourth round.
Jordan Shipley could fall to the fourth round, and Riley Cooper to the fifth. Both should and will be considered by Parcells and Sparano, while Trindon Holliday could prove an enticing choice with that seventh-round compensatory pick.
Running an incredible 4.21 at the Combine, Holliday showed his amazing speed. Unfortunately, at 5'5'' and 166 lbs, he might not be the right size for the NFL. The Dolphins staff might see this as an issue following Pat White's disastrous rookie year.
On the issue of Pat White, why not give him a go at WR? He didn't offer much as a QB, but a change might bring out the best in him. Miami won't let him go, and he showed his ability in college, but by giving him more snaps at wide receiver, White could gain experience, make plays, and grow in confidence.
One thing is for sure, White cannot be called lightweight purely because an unfortunate stumble meant a helmet-to-helmet collision with Ike Taylor that knocked him out. I doubt many players would be able to cope with that.
All in all though, there are plenty of options at wide receiver that should be considered by Miami, but the picks in the second and fourth-round are likely to bear the most fruit at the WR position.
Following the surprising news that Justin Smiley has been placed on the trade block, Miami could now also be in search of a guard to replace him. (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/367579-dolphins-to-shop-smiley-in-offensive-line-shake-up ).
The controversial Richie Incognito has signed a deal for a year, and providing he can keep his temper in check, could be around for longer.
Incognito will contest the right guard spot with Donald Thomas, while Nate Garner and Thomas look set to contest the left guard position. Regardless, the Dolphins could do with an upgrade, unless Canadian behemoth Dimitri Tsoumpas forces his way into the side.
At 6'5'' and 315 lbs, few would argue he has the physical tools, but can the former CFL star prove he has the ability to go with it? If he can, then he would certainly prove to be a great acquisition and would surely challenge for a starting place.
If Miami feels they must draft a guard, then Mike Iupati is the top man in that position. A number 12 pick may be too high, but he won't still be there in the second round.
Should Miami trade down, then Iupati could be a target.
Maurkice Pouncey is also expected to be a late first-round pick, and he can play guard just as well as his natural center spot.
Later options include bench-press monster Mitch Petrus. He completed an incredible 45 reps at the Combine, and would be available in the third or fourth rounds. Should Miami get an extra pick in the Smiley trade, then they could do worse than turning it into Petrus.
Finally, will Miami address the running back situation?
The tandem of Ricky and Ronnie may come to an end this year with Williams' possible retirement. Meanwhile, Ronnie Brown's injury problems have been a concern for Miami, despite the management still being very high on Brown.
Ronnie is seen as an integral part of the wildcat, and is an excellent red zone threat. He will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, though Miami will hope that he can be convinced to stay on a team he truly loves.
Lex Hilliard came into the fray at the end of last season, and did well when he had the chance. However, he is still inexperienced and is seen more as a backup than a future starter.
Again, what options do Miami have in the draft?
They will not use an early round pick on a running back. It isn't a glaring need, and Miami has too many other positions to address.
Instead, a sixth or seventh-rounder is a much more likely scenario.
One man who impressed in his Pro Day was LeGarrette Blount. Known best for his "punch heard around the college world," Blount's temperament has been called into question.
Judging by his 6'1'', 241-lb frame, his physical attributes will not be. Blount ran well in the 40, and showed his quickness, but there are still concerns about his attitude.
Now a father, Blount insists his personal issues are behind him. If this is the case, he could be a terrific pickup in the later rounds.
Another troubled star in college, LaMarcus Coker from Hampton may be worth consideration. Suspended due to off-field drug issues, many questions still remain about his attitude.
Despite these concerns, Coker ran a 4.39 at the Combine, and showed that he could have what it takes to succeed in the NFL.
Questions over his personal demons remain, but should Coker continue to impress physically, while demonstrating he has changed off the field, then he would warrant consideration in the final round.
Deji Karim, who ran a 4.4 at the Combine, could also be a steal in the seventh round. If he can show more of his skills at his Pro Day, then perhaps he too could be in the running for Miami's later round picks.
Finally, a tight end could be an option.
Joey Haynos has been resigned, while Anthony Fasano will hope to revert to the form he showed in Miami's winning season of 2008-09.
Even so, expect Jimmy Graham to be on Miami's radar in the fourth round, while Colin Peek from Alabama and Andrew Quarless from Penn State could be considered as late as the sixth.
If the Dolphins can add a late-round tight end capable of stretching the field, then Sparano would be delighted.
Overall, Miami does have needs on offense, however, these needs are not as pressing as on defense. Guards, running backs, and tight ends are not a priority, while they will need a wide receiver.
If Miami can pick up a top WR in the second or fourth rounds, then their main problem on offense will be addressed, and Miami will hope they can move forward through the air as well as they do on the ground.
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