While the rest of mainstream football media this week focuses on Chad Johnson's pouting following the talking to he received from Joe Philbin about using naughty language during interviews, I'd like to continue looking at the possible ways the Dolphins can upgrade their receiver corps between now and next spring (buzzkill, I know).
As of right now, Johnson, Legedu Naanee, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline and Roberto Wallace are (somewhat) obvious names populating Miami's wideout roster, and while those guys may very well be able to get the job done in South Florida, I still glance at the Dolphins' receiver group and think, "Where's their Greg Jennings? Where's their Jordy Nelson? Where are the guys who will do damage regardless of how well opposing defenses scheme to slow them down?" Maybe that's an unfair attitude on my part--the Dolphins are far from being the only team without big-time flash and punch at wideout right now--but Philbin and Mike "Mrs. Doubtfire" Sherman absolutely must have the right receiving group in place if they want to successfully recreate the Packs' high-octane attack on offense.
I mentioned last week that Legedu Naanee could very well be Miami's version of James Jones--a big-bodied wideout with excellent running chops and the ability to make tough catches in traffic. And let's suppose for a moment that Michael Egnew can serve as somewhat of a Jermichael Finley-type presence for the Dolphins. Add in Davone Bess' clutch, spitfire work out of the slot, and Miami's receiver group doesn't look too shabby. Hartline has some Nelson in him (particularly in his work along the sideline), but his health is a question, and his hands are far from Jordy's vice-grip mitts. Johnson, regardless of how well he plays this year, is more stopgap than long-term contributor. And no one knows what the hell Wallace will do come September.
Excluding Clyde Gates and Miami's running backs, I think the Dolphins have room for one or two West Coast offense-friendly receivers on the roster. Seeing as how there should be some serious receiver firepower in the 2013 draft, we'll look there first.
Robert Woods, USC
Projection--High first-round pick
Woods, to me, looks like a blend of Greg Jennings and Reggie Wayne. Woods has decent height at 6'1", but he can burn, and his routes are as diamond precise as any college receiver on the planet. His presence would immediately bring validity to Miami's receiver group, but they'll have to cough up some picks to move up and get him (unless the Dolphins are terrible this year, which I don't foresee at this point). Still, you can do Green Bay-type things with Woods, because he's very much a Green Bay-type receiver.Keenan Allen, California
Keenan Allen doesn't have the quicksilver route-running chops of Robert Woods, but his prowess as a bullish wideout with sure hands and better-than-advertised speed more than makes up for that. Allen's advanced ability to get off the line of scrimmage will frustrate defensive backs, and his build suggests he can be a faster, stronger Jordy Nelson-type receiver. And in terms of yards after catch (YAC), Allen is second to no wideout in this draft.
Terrence Williams, Baylor
Projection--Late first-round pick
This is where it gets good if you're a Dolphins fan. When you consider the 2013 wide receiver class as a whole, Terrence Williams would almost certainly be the best fit in Miami, as the speed and slick play-making ability he flashed routinely at Baylor last season proved that he's very comfortable in a spread-out, attacking offensive set. Of course, it's easy to look good when RGIII's feeding you the rock, but maybe Baylor's 2011 wideout corps--including Williams, Lanear Sampson and 2012 first-round pick Kendall Wright--had something to do with Griffin's explosive junior season, no? If the Dolphins want to get serious with their receiver corps, Williams is the man to call.
Marquess Wilson, Washington State
A bit of a sleeper in terms of the wideout talent available next spring, Wilson should gain plenty of notoriety this season as the Cougars' No. 1 gun. A springy, velcro-handed prospect, Wilson excels despite the fact that Washington State literally has no other offensive talent around him. And though he's not an ideal fit in the WCO, he absolutely looks the part of a poor man's A.J. Green.