Do the Dolphins really need a wide receiver?

Many Dolphin fans out there are sincerely hoping that the Dolphins spend a day one draft pick - especially that 25th overall pick - on a wide receiver.  Many of the so-called "draft experts" are predicting in their mocks that the Dolphins will select a receiver.  But you can count me in the minority who feel that a wide receiver, at this point, is more of a luxury than a need.  And I don't think you take luxuries in round one unless you can afford to.  I don't think the Dolphins can afford to.

KC Joyner - author of Scientific Football each year and known more affectionately as "The Football Scientist" because of his statistical breakdowns of the game - seems to agree with me on this one.  In his latest blog entry for the NY Times, Joyner writes about how he feels the Dolphins need a corner and not a receiver.

Joyner presents his stats in this article in regards to Miami's top three receivers - Ted Ginn, Greg Camarillo, and Davone Bess.  About Ginn, Joyner points out how his 8.8 yards per attempt in 2008 ranked him 18th in the entire NFL (out of receivers with at least 80 attempts).  Joyner also adds that Ginn "doesn’t need stat gimmicks to show that he truly is that good and has the skills to be a solid #1."

Turning his attention to Camarillo, Joyner points out that his specialty, short passes, is where Greg really stands out.  He had a success rate of 87.7% in 2008 in the "short depth range" - ranking him 2nd in the entire NFL.

But Joyner's comments and stats on Davone Bess intrigued me the most:

If those two weren’t enough, the Fins also have Davone Bess. Bess’s specialty was medium passes, where his 11.2 YPA on 21 passes put him in similar company to some much bigger names – Lee Evans (25 attempts, 283 yards, 11.3 YPA), Greg Jennings (34 attempts, 377 yards, 11.1 YPA) and Eddie Royal (22 attempts, 252 yards, 11.5 YPA). Bess has a tremendous understanding of pass offenses that he picked up while playing for June Jones in Hawaii, so his upside with experience could also be a lot higher.

OK - so I'm aware that many of you don't like reading into statistical analysis.  But these numbers have to mean something, don't they?  I think that they do.  I think they highlight the depth of Miami's receiving core.  And we didn't even talk about Brandon London - who this regime is very high on and who I personally feel is going to be a factor in 2009.

And there's one other myth I want to dispel - the one that claims how the Dolphins are in so much need of a receiver who can "make things happen" after the catch.  In 2008, the Dolphins ranked 15th in the NFL in reeiving yards after the catch - with 1,612 yards.  The Packers ranked first in YAC - with 2,294.  Two interesting points here.  First off, the teams who finished in the top 5 in YAC failed to make the playoffs.  Meanwhile, the Cardinals ranked 14th, with just 4 more yards than the Dolphins, while the Steelers ranked 31st in the league, with 318 fewer yards than the Dolphins.

I don't know about you, but I know that what I take from these numbers is that the wide receiver position really isn't as bad as everybody is making it out to be.  While another playmaker would be fun and make the team better, I think that Miami's defensive needs are far more pressing.

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