Wednesday, February 17, 2010

2010 WR Options for Dolphins

February 17, 2010

Whether through draft or free agency, the Miami Dolphins need to address their wide receiving core in order to attain the status of an elite offense. Now, management has voiced its preference towards acquiring a majority of their talent via the draft, but do believe that free agency can be used to bolster particular positions. With that said, we will review the available free agent wide receivers in the market followed by those found in the draft pool.

Free Agents

Jason Avant - Avant is no game-changer nor a legitimate number one receiver, but his connection with Chad Henne at the University of Michigan and progressive improvement in the NFL could add some depth to Miami's WR depth chart. In their last two seasons together at Michigan, Avant and Henne connected on 202 receptions for 2,493 yards and 19 TDs. The bond created between those two at the collegiate level could translate into good things in the NFL, but that is obviously uncertain. Nevertheless it is a key aspect that should not be ignored.

Steve Breaston - Breaston is another Michigan alumni that took passes from Henne in his college days. As a member of the Cardinals he has played alongside WR studs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin with significantly less targets than the aforementioned players. Despite that, Breaston still broke the 1,000-reception yards mark in the 2008 season during Arizona's Super Bowl run. His potential for making a greater impact on a less-loaded NFL offense is evident and a fit in Miami seems ideal.

Lee Evans - Evans has game-breaking speed similar to Ted Ginn, minus the chronic case of the "dropsies." In Buffalo he has not had much of an opportunity to flourish with a very poor offensive system and a revolving door at the QB position. Evans is not considered a bonafide premier receiver, not would Miami consider him one if they were to acquire him, but once again he can add depth and a new facet to Miami's wide receiving unit. In essence, they would be getting Ted Ginn with hands.

Nate Burleson  - Here's one of the underrated receivers in the league that is commonly obscured by the mediocre offenses that he plays on. When healthy, Burleson is a dependable and versatile target that can run fly routes, slant patterns and quick outs with equal effectiveness. All in all, Miami would be receiving a solid veteran receiver to add poise and stability to their young core. Right now Greg Camarillo is the elder statesman of the unit at 27 years old.
Antonio Bryant - Bryant is perhaps the Dolphins best bet if they are searching for a veteran acquisition to supplement their draft search for a receiver. While he regressed a bit from his 2008 performance, Bryant recorded two 1,000-receiving yards in two of the last four seasons. Miami has not seen a 1,000-plus reception yards performance from one of their own since the Chris Chambers era, and that seems like an eternity in the eyes of DolFans. 

Draft Prospects

Dez Bryant - Considered the best receiver in the draft Bryant would seem to be the best possible pick for the Dolphins if he's still available at the number 12 pick. Prior to his removal from the NCAA, Bryant was on pace to record a second consecutive 1,000-reception yards season, and perhaps matching his 2008 1,480 yards performance. According to scouts, this young gun has it all and is readily capable to play at the next level, standing at a staunch 6'2 and boasting great hands akin to Randy Moss. The only possible concern teams could have regarding Bryant is his extended time away from the game, but most of those concerns are lessened by the innate talent the kid has for playing receiver.

Damian Williams - Coming out of USC's pro-style offense could help Williams seamlessly enter the NFL. He was a great help to Trojans rookie QB Matt Barkley and exhibited his good hands and textbook route running skills. In his final game as a Trojan, Williams recorded 189 yards on 12 receptions in the Emerald Bowl, ending his collegiate career on a high point. NFL scouts aren't completely sold on his ability to match the speed and toughness at the pro-level, but his outstanding talent and potential are definitely not in question.

Golden Tate - Listed around 5'11 to 6'0 and about 195 lbs, this Fighting Irish receiver is slightly small in stature and size. But Tate proved that he can make up for those aspects with his elusive agility, great speed and sure hands. In his senior season at Notre Dame, Tate raked in 93 receptions and almost 1,500 receiving yards for 15 TDs. Even with such prolific production, Tate is listed as a late-first round to second round pick, which places him within reach of the Dolphins draft selections. The toughness and passion this kid brings to the table without the diva attitude seems very fitting for a Bill Parcells team.

Mardy Gilyard - Gilyard stands above the 6-foot mark and weighs approximately 180 lbs; placing him at a tall, yet slender size. Despite his slim frame, most scouts are labeling him a top ten receiver in the draft with considerable upside at the next level. Gilyard produced almost 1,200 receiving yards on 87 receptions accounting for 11 TDs in 2009 with the Bearcats. His strengths include agility, acceleration, vision and hands. Weaknesses would include weight/bulk, route running, vertical leap and character. Definitely a work in progress, but overall a solid pick-up if he goes in the second round. A big question is if he'll bring attitude issues to the locker room, which won't fit well in Miami.

Arrelious Benn - Perhaps one of the most underrated WRs in the draft, Benn presents many qualities that are transferable to the pros. While he did not post outstanding numbers last season, Benn exhibited flashes of greatness throughout his final two seasons at Illionois. He played a bit of running back along with his receiving duties and was an all-purpose kind of guy for the Illini. At 6'2, 220 lbs Benn is a physical specimen that isn't afraid of contact and has surprising speed. Don't expect to hear his name called in the first round, or maybe even the second round, but he's projected to be gone by the third round. That makes him a plausible choice for the Dolphins if they choose to address the WR spot late. Only conflicting issue is Benn's documented off-the-field problems.

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