Sunday, January 24, 2021

Will Albert Wilson be filling the slot in 2020?

Entering the 2020 season one of the biggest questions is who will fill the slot? Albert Wilson is 100% again, but can he finally reach the level of consistency, and production required.

After bringing in a haul of free agents and draft picks, the 2020 Miami Dolphins Wide Receiver and Tight End corps remain largely untouched. Devante Parker, after a stellar breakout season, will start, mirrored on the opposite side of the field by last season’s free agency acquisition, Preston Williams, assuming he is fit. 

Another player to stand out was Tight End Mike Gesicki. His size, strength and catching ability will fit in well with Chan Gailey’s spread offence and at times he will be moved more laterally into the slot.

Other notable Wide Receivers in the mix include Allen Hurns, Mack Hollins, and Isaiah Ford, but this group are more natural wideouts and moving on from Kenny Stills and Danny Amendola leaves a vacancy at slot.

The return of Albert Wilson

The most obvious name to pencil in would be Albert Wilson. The rumour mill was fierce pre-draft, speculating the Dolphins could be looking to trade or cut the former Chief due to his high salary and below-par production.

But both Wilson and the Dolphins showed their commitment to each other with the renegotiation of said contract. Wilson accepting a $6.5 million pay cut and in return the Dolphins guaranteeing $1 million of his salary going into his final year. 

Albert Wilson torched the Bears in 2018 © Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Albert Wilson torched the Bears in 2018 © Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Since Albert Wilson signed for the Dolphins, his biggest hurdle has been his ability to stay healthy. The hip injury he acquired in 2018 has been a burden, limiting him to 20 games in two seasons, just 7 as a starter, and accumulating only 5 touchdowns. In comparison, Kenny Stills started all 31 games in his last two seasons in Miami, scoring 12 touchdowns.

When healthy, he has the talent to make big plays. His leg strength is phenomenal which gives rise to his blistering speed, balance, and his ability to change direction at will. He also has great hands and is comfortable putting in a block as and when required. 

In a contract year, Albert Wilson really has to prove that his body has the ability to cope with the rigours of the game and at 27, he will be hoping to make enough of an impression to warrant one big final payday, be it with the Dolphins or on another roster. He needs to prove he can stay healthy, and if he can do that, he can thrive in this offense.

WR injury curse

There are few in the locker room that can compete for this position. Jakeem Grant would be a natural consideration, but he has carved out success-focused mainly on being a return specialist.

Although he has explosive speed and is a solid route runner, he too has been plagued by the Miami Wide Receiver injury curse and needs limited touches to ensure he’s healthy enough to remain on the roster. He is another player that needs to prove his worth after the Dolphins added several talented players to their special teams.

An outside chance would be utility back, Malcolm Perry. Technically the Dolphins have him registered as a Running Back, but he has drawn several comparisons to New England Wide Receiver Julian Edelman.

Both were drafted in the 7th round and have a similar skill set being converted quarterbacks. Unlikely to be in a starting role, he still has the ability to provide some depth and offer something slightly different. He too has incredible speed and in the right play, could be devastating.

Malcolm Perry may offer Albert Wilson some stiff competition
Malcolm Perry may offer Albert Wilson some stiff competition

Judging by the approach the front office took in free agency and the draft, the 2020 season should be seen as an opportunity for the offensive skill players to prove they have a part to play in the future of this franchise.

Many players suffered in 2019 due to poor blocking and pass protection and the hope will be that the upgrade to the O-Line gives these players an opportunity to shine and cement a place on a team on the rise.

With Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, and Malcolm Perry 100% healthy this could be one of the most enjoyable battles in camp.

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