The Miami Dolphins will celebrate their 50th NFL season this year, spanning from 1966 to 2015. Thousands of players have hit the field for the team over that time, helping the team appear in five Super Bowls, winning two of them, including the only undefeated season in league history. Despite spending the last decade stuck in a purgatory of mediocrity, the Dolphins are still hold the fourth highest winning percentage in the NFL at .565, behind just the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, and Green Bay Packers.
The team has eight Hall of Famer players, Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Langer, Larry Little, Dan Marino, Dwight Stephenson, and Paul Warfield, plus one Hall of Fame coach Don Shula. Another three Hall of Famers, Cris Carter, Junior Seau, and Thurman Thomas, all had brief stints in aqua on their way to Canton.
As we all look forward to better days for the Dolphins from this rut that has been the franchise since the turn of the century, we can also look back at one of the premier franchises of the NFL as they turn 50. We will do that over the next few days as we build the Miami Dolphins' 50th Season Depth Chart.
After an unexpected three-day break in our depth chart posts, we return today with the wide receivers.
Starters: Mark Clayton, Paul Warfield, Mark Duper
Reserve: Nat Moore, O.J. McDuffie, Chris Chambers
The first half of the Marks Brothers takes the top spot on our wide receiver depth chart. Selected in the eighth-round of the 1983 NFL Draft, Clayton would team with a quarterback Miami also selected in the 1983 Draft, Dan Marino, to eventually become one of the top quarterback-receiver tandems in league history. Clayton set the NFL record for receiving touchdowns in a season during the 1984 campaign, catching 18 scoring passes, a number that only Jerry Rice (22 in 1987) and Randy Moss (23 in 2007) have surpassed. In 10 years with Miami, from 1983 to 1992, clayton caught 550 passes for 8,643 yards with 81 touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, and 1991. He still holds the team records for most career receptions and most career receiving touchdowns, and is second in career receiving yards. He also holds the record for a single season with 1,389 receiving yards as wella s the top three single season touchdown marks with 18 (1984), 14 (1988), and 12 (1991).
Only Clayton could land ahead of a Hall of Fame wide receiver on the Dolphins' 50th Anniversary depth chart, where Warfield takes the second position. Warfield began his career with the Cleveland Browns before being traded to the Dolphins in 1970. He only played five seasons with the Dolphins before being a part of the World Football League defections that included Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick. In those five years, from 1970 to 1974, Warfield had Pro Bowl seasons in each one, along with being a First-Team All Pro selection in 1971 and 1973. He caught 156 passes for 3,355 yards with 33 touchdowns over the span. After a year in the WFL, Warfield returned to the NFL, playing two more seasons with the Browns and capping his career that ended with a 1983 induction into the Hall of Fame. Warfield holds the Dolphins team record for yards per reception at 21.5 for any receiver with more than five receptions.
The other half of the Marks Brothers, Duper, claims the final starter position on our depth chart, following his 11 years with the team. Selected in the second-round of the 1982 NFL Draft, Super Duper used his world-class sprinter speed to his advantage in the NFL. He caught passes for 11 seasons, from 1982 to 1992, for Miami, totaling 511 receptions (second in team history) for 8,869 yards (first for the Dolphins), with 59 touchdowns (third in team history). He was selected to the 1983, 1984, and 1986 Pro Bowls. His 1986 and 1984 seasons receiving yard totals (1,313 and 1,306) are respectively the second and third highest totals in team history.
Moore is the first of our "reserve" wide receivers on the list, which is a pretty decent reserve to have. Playing 13 years for the team, Moore spanned the Bob Griese and Dan Marino eras for the club, beginning as a third-round selection of the team in 1974 and playing through the 1986 season. he caught 510 passes over that time (third in team history), for 7,546 yards (3rd) with 74 touchdowns (2nd). He was selected to the 1977 Pro Bowl and was a First-Team All-Pro selection that year.
McDuffie takes the fifth position based on an eight-year career with the team. Picked 25th overall in 1993, McDuffie worked primarily as a return man early in his career, but grew into the receiver role. He led the league in receptions in 1998 with 90, which still stands as the team record. He recorded 415 receptions (4th in team history), 5,074 yards (5th), and 29 touchdowns (6th) with the Dolphins.
The sixth and final spot was tough to choose. There are three players who were all deserving of making the list, but only one spot remaining. Chambers picks up the position based on having the better stats and a Pro Bowl appearance (2005), but it could be argued that the other two, listed below in the honorable mention section, meant more to the offense during their careers. Selected in the second round in 2001, Chambers played seven years for Miami. He caught 405 passes, which is the fifth highest total in team history, with 5,688 yards (4th), and 43 touchdown passes (4th).
Duriel Harris and Jim Jensen both could make this list, but end up on the wrong side of the cut line. Harris played nine years for Miami (1976-1983, 1985), catching 269 passes with 4,534 yards and 18 touchdowns. Jensen, who did everything for Miami, playing wide receiver, quarterback, and running back at different times - a "Slash" player before that was a thing - as well as turning himself into a special teams ace. Crash caught 229 passes for 2,171 yards and 19 touchdowns in his time with the Dolphins (1981-1992), all of which are top 20 in team history, but his value as a do-everything player may be more valuable than any statistic could be for the Dolphins.
Tomorrow we will review the entire offensive side of the ball before we move on to the defense on Thursday.