This post is part of a series of posts that will break down and evaluate the Miami Dolphins position by position. If you haven't read up on how players are being classified (the number and letter that follow each player's name), you can read this post explaining the evaluation system. You can also read the previous posts in this series by clicking here.
Many seem to have mixed feelings about the Dolphins' receiving corps. But I think the group is actually under-appreciated by most. All they are missing is one key piece - which we'll get to in a moment. But first, the grades...
Brandon Marshall (1-A). Say what you want about Brandon, but he's unquestionably an elite receiver. He's the "alpha receiver" that this offense has long been wanting. Despite a "down year" in 2010, Marshall went over the 1,000 yard mark for the fourth consecutive season. Hopefully Brian Daboll will utilize Marshall much better than Dan Henning did as we move forward.
Davone Bess (2-C). Davone has been a fan favorite since making the team as an undrafted free agent out of Hawaii in 2008 and then making 54 receptions for 554 yards his rookie year. Since then, all Davone has done is become the best slot receiver in the NFL - at least in my opinion. His best football is still ahead of him, too.
Brian Hartline (2-C). I've never understood why many Dolphin fans seem to give Hartline so much crap. In two seasons, all Hartline has done is make 74 receptions and average over 15 yards per catch since being a 4th round pick in 2009. Do I wish he was just a little faster? Sure. But the kid has good hands, is very tough, and still has plenty of upside.
Roberto Wallace (3-D). Wallace has the size and speed you want in a receiver (6'4, 225). But the former undrafted free agent is very raw and has to improve if he wants to make this roster in 2011. Having played in 12 games in 2010, he is no longer eligible for the practice squad - which means he'll be in a tough competition this offseason. He needs to improve his route running and become more consistent catching the football. But there is upside here.
Marlon Moore (3-D). Moore, like Wallace, will be in a battle for a roster spot this offseason. He's got more speed than Wallace - but also suffers from the same issues. He needs to improve his route running, particularly getting in and out of his breaks and creating separation. He also suffers from inconsistent hands. But, again, there's a lot of upside here.
Julius Pruitt (4-F). Pruitt has been part of this organization since 2009 when he was signed to the Dolphins' practice squad as an undrafted free agent. But he hasn't seen any action and it's getting to the point where the coaches must decide if Pruitt has any future with this team or not. He's a speed receiver. But there's obviously been issues holding him back.
Brooks Foster (4-F). Coming out of North Carolina, Foster was a 5th round pick of the Rams in 2009. Since then, he's bounced around and is pretty much an unknown to Dolphin fans. He was given a reserve/future contract last month, which is nothing more than an invitation to training camp - if he makes it that far.
Patrick Carter (4-F). Carter is another guy who was given a reserve/future contract last month. He's bounced around this league with Seattle and Denver and is nothing more than another camp body.
Contract situations: There's not really anything here worth monitoring. Miami's top five receivers are all under contract for at least two more seasons.
Outlook: There's one glaring weakness of this unit that we are all aware of - speed. The Dolphins will likely look to fill that void in some way with a speed receiver - a Mike Wallace/Johnny Knox type of receiver who can stretch the field and give Marshall and Bess some more room to work underneath. If the Dolphins can identify and acquire that kind of complementary, their offense will obviously be much more dangerous in 2011.