World-class speed and flawless form. Kendall Wright is more than just a rocket in pads.
Many of you on last week's post commented that you disagree with the idea of drafting a receiver early in the 2012 Draft. In this line of thinking, the assumption would be that the Dolphins are currently set with their current receiver corps and simply need a franchise-caliber quarterback to act as The Dude's rug and tie everything together.
I obviously agree with the quarterback side of that assumption, but in no way do I think our wideout roster is where it needs to be.
First, let me explain my reasoning.
The Dolphins' receiver corps is not bad, per se. In fact, it's above average. Brandon Marshall is a bona fide No.1 option. Few NFL wide receivers are better route runners than Davone Bess. And despite being a polarizing figure on this blog, Brian Hartline has the potential to be a solid No.3 receiver. There's no doubt that Miami has a strong, functional receiver roster capable of making big plays; however, the Dolphins need a wide receiver or two who can completely satisfy the hierarchy of Hands, Routes and Speed.
Yep, a receiver hierarchy. As an example, consider the wide receivers who play in Green Bay and New Orleans. Both teams have a balanced group of wideouts who can stretch the field vertically, make tough catches over the middle, run precise routes and secure underneath throws. Size is certainly plus for any receiver, but shouldn't be considered a be-all, end-all.
And despite the Packers and Saints possessing No.1 wideouts (Greg Jennings and Marques Colston, respectively), both teams manage to get big plays out of every receiver on the roster. How? Each team has wideouts who fit the hierarchy and satisfy each of its facets to a certain degree. These receivers aren't studs in every category, but it's a great bet that they do multiple things well.
And I am not interested in the Dolphins augmenting or loosely recreating this formula. I am interested in the Dolphins copying this formula down to a T. Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Of the receivers who will be available in the 2012 draft, this guy might be the best example of Hands, Routes and Speed. He's also a spitting image of Jennings.Kendall Wright, WR Baylor
When a quarterback lights the nation on fire with highlight reel throws and eye-popping numbers the way Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III has this season, it's only a matter of time before his receivers start to get some face time, as well. Make no mistake, though, Kendall Wright isn't riding anyone's coattails and continues to stand out on a very athletic, talented Baylor receiving corps. These guys are like the collegiate version of the Oakland Raiders.
Wright (6'0", 215) has been nearly impossible for defenses to match up against this season, giving Big 12 secondaries fits with his rare speed (4.3 40-yard dash) and fearless approach to making plays over the middle of the field. Wright's far from a two-trick pony, though, and possesses good hands, elite burst coming out of breaks, and the anticipation and leaping ability to go up and make plays against much bigger defensive backs. Wright hits top gear in a blink and creates immediate separation, and when he gets the ball in space, it's truly a sight to see him turn upfield and shame defenders in pursuit.
While a tad bit on the small side, Wright isn't frail and has proven he can take a pounding. Remember, Baylor, before this season, was a perennial doormat in its conference, and Wright has spent countless unglamorous hours playing against very fast Big 12 defenses loaded with NFL-caliber talent. This season, he's the one doling out the punishment, and he's shown no mercy thus far. Opposing teams simply cannot shut this guy down ... and everyone knows it.
Wright's over focus could certainly use a little sharpening at this juncture. His overall game awareness is very, very good, but he can get a bit lazy while hauling in passes. He doesn't possess the large, ultra-natural mitts of Justin Blackmon, Alshon Jeffery or Dwight Jones, but he does have very good hands for the position and rarely drops passes when he's extending his arms out and snaring the ball.
Wright needs could also get better at fighting off jams at the line of scrimmage. He's strong and feisty enough to defeat physical corners, and simply needs to develop this skill more as he makes the transition from college to the pros.
As a downfield blocker, Wright isn't a threat to knock anyone out; however, he does a decent job of zeroing in on his target and displays adequate-to-good technique while eliminating defenders in pursuit.
Robert Griffin III is officially the second- or third-best quarterback in this draft (depending on how you think he matches up with Matt Barkley), and I expect Kendall Wright to experience a similar rise within this year's wide receiver class. He's a legitimate second-round pick at this point, and will likely turn plenty of heads when he runs for scouts this winter. And if the Dolphins are lucky enough to draft Griffin in the first round, they'd be wise to take Wright in the second round and reunite him with his teammate and go-to receiver. Complete the set, you know?