Miami Dolphins 2010 Position Grades: Did the Beast Boost the Receiving Corps?
The acquisition of Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall gave the Dolphins the elite No. 1 target in the passing game that they had been lacking for so long.
The Dolphins aerial attack, or lack thereof, ended up being pretty tame. This was due to the lack of a running game, which hindered the entire offense, and the conservative styles of offensive coordinator Dan Henning and quarterback Chad Henne.
In the end, the Dolphins ranked right in the middle of the pack at 16th in receiving yards, but the team's passer rating fell all the way down to 28th.
While the Dolphins receivers were in part limited due to other factors, I will, as best I can, attempt to rate their individual performances in the 2010 season.
Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and is currently a programming coordinator for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.
Davone Bess: A
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Bess' 2009 grade: C
Make no mistake: Davone Bess had a far easier job as the Dolphins' slot receiver, and in the kind of offense Dan Henning ran in 2010, than Brandon Marshall did. Bess does not have anything near Marshall's ability and he could dominate the way Marshall does outside.
That being said, Bess performed in his role as a sure-handed, third-down converting slot guy as well as anyone in the league in 2010. He displayed excellent hands and was as good as he's ever been at making guys miss and getting extra yardage to move the chains.
Bess is limited physically and will never be a dominant No. 1 receiver like the the Marshalls or Fitzgeralds of the world, but he excels with quality hands and a strong work ethic.
Brandon Marshall: B
Marshall's 2009 grade: n/a
Marshall certainly had his down moments during his first season with the Dolphins, dropping the occasional pass, getting increasingly frustrated with his quarterback and eventually hitting the airwaves to complain in a trouble-making episode reminiscent of his Denver days.
That being said, he suffered through a poor offense around him while still putting together a quality season, catching 86 passes and notching his fourth-straight 1,000-yard season.
On the negative side, Marshall's yards per receptions dipped slightly, and he was only able to find the end zone three times thanks to the Dolphins' sputtering offense.
Brian Hartline: C-
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Hartline's 2009 grade: B-
After a surprising rookie season in which Brian Hartline leapfrogged Patrick Turner and became a strong deep threat for the Dolphins, Hartline's progression fell a bit short in his sophomore campaign in 2010.
He caught 43 passes for 615 yards (both career highs) and one touchdown, but he was never a consistent receiver for Chad Henne with a handful of drops and even some caused interceptions.
Hartline has the skills to be a solid No. 2 alongside Marshall, but his upside is a bit limited and he's not guaranteed a big role in 2011.
Marlon Moore: D+
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Moore's 2009 grade: n/a
How do you grade an undrafted rookie with no real expectations? Is any production a bonus?
Overall, Moore had an okay season as the team's No. 4 receiver, catching six balls for 128 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 16 yards on an end-around play.
His biggest day came against the Raiders, when he caught a 57-yard touchdown pass on a short play where the defensive back whiffed. He had some down moments too, when he struggled to catch the ball in extended playing time against the Browns.
Moore only played in nine games as a rookie due to lack of special teams ability, and he was really just playing due to a lack of options. He is by no means guaranteed a bigger role, or even a spot on the team in 2011.
Roberto Wallace: D
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Wallace's 2009 grade: n/a
When you watch the Dolphins play, all 6'4", 225 pounds of No. 18 Wallace can look a lot like No. 19 Brandon Marshall. Unfortunately, Wallace isn't quite on Marshall's level yet.
Passed by fellow undrafted Marlon Moore on the offensive depth chart, Wallace caught six passes for 62 yards all season, rarely seeing time on offense.
Wallace was, however, an excellent special teams player as a rookie and has a little more upside than Moore in my opinion. Brandon Marshall has taken the similarly-shaped Wallace under his wing, but Wallace still has a long way to go to be an impact player in the NFL.
Closing Comments and 2011 Outlook
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The Dolphins receiving corps got a big boost with Brandon Marshall, and he showed the same ability he did in Denver. The problem is keeping him happy and that's hard to do when the offense and quarterback are struggling.
Miami isn't far away from having a solid receiving corps, but it could use a true No. 2 receiver to take attention from Marshall and Bess. Hartline could be that guy, but he didn't progress much in 2010 and suffered a hand injury late in the season.
While there are other bigger needs on offense, the Dolphins could look to add a speedy playmaker if they can get back into the draft's second round, with possible prospects including Troy's Jerrel Jernigan, Maryland's Torrey Smith and Boise State's Titus Young.
They could also look for a receiving deep threat and punt returner in free agency, with guys like Steve Breaston (pictured), Johnnie Lee Higgins, Santonio Holmes or Lance Moore being possibilities.