Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills is the team’s “take the top off the defense” player, the one who can burn a team deep on any play. Miami traded for Stills in 2015, bringing him to South Florida as part of the trade that sent Dannell Ellerbe to the New Orleans Saints. A fifth-round pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, Stills had recorded 95 receptions for 1,572 yards with eight touchdowns in two seasons for the Saints.
Since coming to Miami, Stills has 95 receptions in two-and-a-half years, picking up 1,507 yards with 16 touchdowns, giving him a career yards per reception average of 16.0 yards. Stills’ 4.38-second 40-yard dash speed, tied for fourth in his Scouting Combine draft class in 2013, has been used well by both the Saints and the Dolphins, making Stills a true deep threat.
A deep threat that ranks among the NFL’s best through nine weeks of the 2017 season. Pro Football Focus updated their top ten listing of the best deep receiving threats, and Stills makes the list at number nine. Of Stills, PFF writes:
Stills has been a deep threat ever since joining the NFL in 2013 with the Saints, and now especially with the Dolphins. Despite Miami’s offensive woes this season, he has still been effective generating the big play catching five of 13 deep targets for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
They explain the “deep target WR rating” stat as the quarterback’s passer rating when targeting the player, with a deep target defined as any pass thrown more than 20-yards past the line of scrimmage.
On a side note, current Saints wide receiver and former Dolphins draft choice (2007, 1st round) Ted Ginn, Jr. ranks as the league’s top deep threat wide receiver, according to PFF.
The Dolphins saw a full compliment of receivers last week, with DeVante Parker returning from injury to re-join Stills and Jarvis Landry. Stills only caught three passes for 28 yards on four targets, with a long of 14 yards, but the combination of that trio on the field led to quarterback Jay Cutler’s best passing performance since joining the Dolphins this year, picking up 311 yards on 34-for-42 passing with three touchdowns and a 121.3 passer rating. If Cutler can keep up that type of performance, getting Stills back into the deep threat that he should be, with Parker the jump-ball winning number one receiver and Landry the possession/slot receiver, the Dolphins could find more offensive success than they have thus far this year.
Stills’ ranking among the deep threats in the league could be a key part of any turn-around the Dolphins’ offense has this year. Can that deep threat show up on Monday night against the Carolina Panthers?