The Dolphins wide receiving corps has seen a slight shakeup since the end of the 2018 season. Gone are Danny Amendola and Leonte Carroo, but returning from injury will be Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant. All the while, the ever-reliable Kenny Stills and enigmatic DeVante Parker are back for another season in aqua and orange.
With a new quarterback taking the reins of Miami’s attack and little certainty present around the offense in general, which wide receiver will lead Miami’s aerial charge going forward?
First, let’s break down the obvious candidates:
With 2018’s leading receiver (Amendola) now playing for the Detroit Lions, we can look to last season’s second leading receiver as a possibility to accumulate the most receiving yards in 2019. That would be Kenny Stills, whose downfield playmaking ability has been a staple of Miami’s offenses since the veteran pass catcher arrived in South Florida back in 2015. Stills seemed to be a favorite target of Ryan Tannehill, but with Tannehill now with the Tennessee Titans, it remains to be seen whether Stills will develop a similar rapport with Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Regardless, Stills’ experience, ability, and the lack of other star power on Miami’s receiving corps will certainly culminate in the 27-year old netting a spot atop Miami’s depth chart, but how will he be used in new offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea’s offense?
It would make the most sense to place Stills exactly where he’s been for the majority of his time as a Dolphin: on the outside, taking the top off of defenses. Yes, his yards per reception mark has dipped just below 15.0 over the past two seasons from its height of 17.3 during Miami’s playoff run in 2016, but Stills is still at his best and most dangerous on the perimeter, which I believe will work to his advantage when it comes to racking up a significant yardage total. Given Fitzpatrick’s penchant for throwing down the field, having the grizzled veteran at quarterback to start the season would probably result in more big plays for Stills.
When it comes to Parker, availability will be the key. Given his reputation for being fragile and often injured, Parker surprisingly played in 13 or more games in each of his first three seasons before appearing in just 11 in 2018. That said, even when he’s on the field, he’s often been at less than full strength and has struggled to make many big plays for Miami’s offense. If (and that’s a monstrous if) Parker can remain healthy, it’s possible that the former first-round pick can finally capitalize on his potential and ability.
The Dolphins’ front office was smart to strike a one-year, $5 million contract extension (club option) with Parker instead of picking up his $10.1 million fifth-year option. If Parker makes strides this season and shows his worth, the Dolphins have him on a relatively cheap contract for 2020. If not, the team can jettison him with no dead cap hit. My feeling is that O’Shea will attempt to use Parker (6’3”) as a red zone weapon who will be looked to when the Dolphins need a contested catch on the outside.
Wilson was on track to be Miami’s leading receiver last season before an unfortunate hip injury ended his 2018 campaign after seven weeks. Through those seven games, Wilson had accumulated 391 yards which would total just under 900 yards if that per game average is extrapolated over a full 16 game season. That number is way above Amendola’s team leading 575 yards.
Wilson’s yards were largely accumulated after the catch. The 26-year old’s ability to make defenders miss in space allowed him to turn short receptions into massive gains. His speed is truly game-breaking, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him once again be a key weapon in Miami’s offense if O’Shea can find ways to get the ball into his hands.
What about the rest of the bunch?
Jakeem Grant, Brice Butler, and Isaiah Ford all have a chance to make an impact on the team’s offense. Grant showed his value on the perimeter last season despite his short stature, while Butler made some big plays when injuries began to mount. Ford has yet to record his first NFL reception because injuries are keeping him off the field, but he seemed poised to get some snaps before landing on injured reserve last season. With all that said, none are in line to see starting time unless injuries befall Stills, Parker, or Wilson.
What about a non-wide receiver? Tight ends Mike Gesicki and Dwayne Allen are also likely to see significant time on the field, but until the Dolphins make the tight end position a significant part of the team’s aerial attack, I’ll refrain from even remotely suggesting that someone at the position has a chance to lead the team in receiving yards. Running back Kenyan Drake has also had a big impact in the passing game, but I don’t see him accumulating more receiving yards than the likes of Stills, Parker, or Wilson if any of the three play a full 16-game slate.
My pick: Albert Wilson
O’Shea was the wide receivers coach for the New England Patriots for the past ten seasons. He’s seen the likes of Julian Edelman and Wes Welker accumulate massive yardage totals under Tom Brady and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. That’s not to say O’Shea will use offensive philosophies that are identical to those employed by McDaniels, but if Miami asks Josh Rosen to start for a significant portion of the season, I believe O’Shea will use a quick rhythm passing game to get the second-year passer acclimated. That means many throws to a fast, agile slot receiver, and that translates to Albert Wilson.
Who will lead the 2019 Miami Dolphins in receiving yards?
This poll is closed