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Ted Ginn on the cusp of breaking out?

Since being the 9th overall pick back in 2007, the subject of Ted Ginn has sparked some heated debate among Dolphin fans.  Some see him as a guy who still possesses unlimited potential once he matures while others just view him as yet another "Cam Cameron mistake."

While others may judge Ginn based on his lofty draft status, I will not.  Those people will tell me that Ginn has been a bust because he was picked in the top 10 of the draft and is yet to produce like a top 10 pick.  But holding Ginn's draft status against him is unfair.  It's not Teddy's fault that the previous Dolphins regime had Ginn a bit too high on their draft board.

But that isn't the point here.  In fact, I'm here to highlight the fact that while Teddy is yet to produce like a top draft pick or a true #1receiver, he still could become one.  Ginn is only entering his 3rd NFL season - the season in which young wide receivers tend to break out and flourish.  Last year, Ginn didn't have outstanding numbers.  But they also weren't terrible, either.  Yes, Ginn only caught two touchdowns.  But those two touchdown grabs were huge plays.  The first one saw Teddy smothered by two Seahawk defenders but still somehow able to make the grab and keep his feet in bounds in the back ofthe endzone.  The second one sparked the Dolphins division clinching win at the Meadowlands in week 17 against the Jets - a remarkable catch by Ginn, if you ask me - leaping high into the air to make the grab.

Even so, just two touchdowns receptions is a bit low.  But when you weigh his second-year numbers with the second-year numbers of some of the game's top wide receivers, you'd see that Ginn is really on par with where he should be entering his third career season.

Player Rec Yds TDs Trgts Success %
Ted Ginn 56 790 2 93 60.2%
Roddy White 30 506 0 64 46.9%
Reggie Wayne 49 716 4 72 68.1%
Terrell Owens 60 936 8 103 58.3%
Braylon Edwards 61 884 6 124 49.2%
Hines Ward 61 638 7 102 59.8%
Greg Jennings 53 920 12 84 63.1%
Steve Smith 54 872 3 97 55.7%
Laveranues Coles 59 868 7 103 57.3%

What stands out here is how similar Ginn's numbers are to some of the game's top receivers.  The two big differences I see are touchdowns and big plays.  Guys like Smith, Jennings,and Coles had fewer catches but more yards.  But let's be fair and point out that Ginn isn't exactly playing with a strong-armed quarterback who can get him the ball down field.  However, Ginn doesn't exactly turn short passes into big gains like a Steve Smith type of receiver would.

With all that said, this year is the year Ginn has to prove himself.  All those players above outside of Hines Ward and Reggie Wayne went over 1,000 yards receiving in their third NFL season.  For Teddy, I wouldn't say the 1,000 yard mark is the key number for him - because there are a number of factors that could limit Ginn's yardage total.  But he has to show marked improvement.  He has to claim that role as Chad Pennington's "go-to" guy in key spots such as 3rd down.  He needs to show improved awareness on the field; better route running is a must as well.  Ginn needs to play as fast as he can sprint.  Frankly, Ted must prove he is a true #1 receiver.

While I said in the past that I don't think the Dolphins need a true #1 receiver, Tony Sparano said differently on Tuesday.  And who am I to argue with the big guy?  Said Sparano:

"It's important to me to have a clear No. 1 receiver...I'd like to find a clear No. 1 guy that I'm comfortable with and Chad [Pennington] is comfortable with that can come up with the big play."

Can Teddy be that guy?  I'd say he is probably the only guy on the roster with all the physical tools needed to be a #1 receiver.  And we got to hear some encouraging words from Sparano about Ginn's development:

"Ted Ginn right now, if you said to me, 'Tell the me the player that in the seven or eight practices we've had has impressed you the most,' Ted Ginn is in the top two right now. The way he's handling himself out there and the way the offense has started to slow down for him that way. I've seen him in some situations be pretty dominant...I've been impressed with what Ted Ginn has done."

Don't adjust your computer screens - you read that right.  Sparano used the word "dominant" to describe Ted Ginn.  More importantly, Ginn has "impressed" Tony - a man who isn't easily impressed - or, at least, he won't admit it easily. 

But we shouldn't get too excited right now.  After all, the players are just playing in shorts.  Let's see how Teddy does once the pads go on.  But right now, it's fair to be encouraged with what we are hearing.  It all falls in line with how many receivers develop in this league.

Year three is known as the "breakout year" for receivers.  Right now, there's no reason to think that Ted Ginn won't follow suit.