This time last year, the wide receiver room for the Miami Dolphins was, at best, threadbare. Alan Hurns and Albert Wilson had just opted out of the season due to the Covid pandemic, leaving DeVante Parker as what you might call the only ‘proven’ receiver on the roster. During the course of the season, injury to the promising Preston Williams meant that players such as Mack Hollins and Jakeem Grant, who were prodomentaly Special Teams players got more of a look in. The addition of Antinio Callaway, Lynn Bowden Jr and revolving door player Isaiah Ford did little to instil confidence in the passing game.
Fast forward to 2021 and the Dolphins still have a major headache when it comes to the receiving corps, but this time, it’s not one to complain about.
Firstly, not only did the Dolphins welcome no.6 overall pick rookie Jaylen Waddle into the group, it was also a welcome back to Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns. Whilst the latter has succumb to injuries, Wilson has had a fantastic camp and while many (myself included) doubted he’d make the final roster, he’s stepped up and has now surely secured the slot position moving into the season.
Another play that has more than stepped up is Mack Hollins. This was completely unexpected
But, when discussing wide receivers, you also have to take into account a number of other weapons currently on the roster. Mike Gesicki, Salvon Ahmed, Myles Gaskin all provide an added threat in the passing game (Mike G more so than most receivers) and Adam Shaheen has been a consistent red zone threat all through camp. That’s not even mentioning the potential Hunter Long could bring to the party. All of these players will likely make the roster, and that might spell trouble for several of the receivers.
WIDE RECEIVER DEPTH IS MARKED IMPROVEMENT
Final roster cuts are looming, and with Bowden out for the season (a shock to most fans), there are probably more questions than answers as to which wide receivers make the final squad and how many places will there be? One thing that undoubtably will be a consideration, is although there is great depth in the receiving room, four of the players are quite prone to injury (Fuller, Parker, Williams and Wilson) which would lead me to think that they might try to carry 6 or 7. But who might not make the cut?
Whilst Preston Williams has an undoubtable potential upside, his inability to stay healthy really puts him at a disadvantage. So far, he’s missed half of the games he has been eligible for in his career. The coaching staff seem to really like him as a player and other than a few cruitial drops, has proven to be fairly productive when he’s been on the field.
Coach Flores this week has said that he will be getting increased reps in practice this week, but has he done enough to squeeze past the final cut-down, especially with Mike G proving that he can effectively play a very similar role on the outside. Longer term though, should the team decide to move on from DeVante Parker, would Williams be the type of player you want to keep around?
Jakeem Grant is an interesting one. A 2020 All Pro special teams player and one of the fastest wide receivers on the team, he clearly has something to offer. The main issue with Grant, is he’s not really demonstrated much as a receiver and he’s earning a relatively high salary in comparison to his contribution.
It’s difficult to justify having him sat on the bench to just return kicks when you have the likes of Waddle in the squad, with other players such as Malcolm Perry and Noah Igbinoghene able to do the job. And again, thinking long term, if Lynn Bowden does stick, that adds more competition for those return reps.
The player I’m struggling to decide on the most is Malcolm Perry. His skill set is similar to that of Grant and Bowden JR and really fits the gadget player mould. He’s perhaps not shone as much as others during camp, but he hasn’t really done much wrong and the decision to keep him on the roster could come down to who they decide they want to be on kick return duty. If it’s not Jakeem Grant, then I think there’s more chance Perry makes it.
For me, one of the players that really increased his stock in camp was Kirk Merrit. Brought in as an UFA in 2020 he’s yet to see any meaningful NFL game time but has really put himself out there in camp and showed some great flashes in the pre season win over the Falcons, hauling in all 3 of his targets and scoring a touchdown.
He’s still needs a bit of refining and ultimately, through no fault of his own I don’t think he’ll make the final roster just due to the depth there already is. But, I’d be hopeful he would clear waivers and end up back on the practice squad so the coaching staff can spend some more time with him and this time next year, who knows?