Dec 24, 2011; Foxborough, MA, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline (82) runs the ball against New England Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington (24) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

How Bad Are The Dolphins Receivers?

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Brandon Marshall is gone and this author is not upset.  The shock of the free agent opening bell spurred anticipation for an active blockbuster type free agency.  Of course it fell completely flat in the eyes of most outside of the Miami Dolphins themselves.  The loss of Marshall has many in the media calling the Dolphins receiving corp, “poor”.  Is that an accurate description?

I’m not a stat guy.  I care about two things.  Can a guy get open and can he catch the ball?  If he can do both of those things, the rest will take care of itself if he has a quarterback who can get him the ball.  To me, Marshall was a prima donna.  The flailing arms in the redzone to alert the QB that he wanted the ball was ridiculous and it seemed that too often than not his 1,000 yard plus seasons meant more to him than touchdowns.  You know the stuff that actually wins games.  Truth be told, I remember Marshall more for his TD drops than his TD receptions.

Today the team worked out Legedu Naane formerly of the Carolina Panthers.  He wasn’t very productive and his lone season of productivity came in San Diego when starter Vincent Jackson was out.  He was average and seemed more of a waiver wire fantasy football pick-up that was dropped just as fast.  Does he possess something we don’t know yet or are the Dolphins simply “turning” over more rocks and acorns?

The draft is a week away and it reportedly is deep in WR talent.  How deep really depends upon what HC Joe Philbin and OC Mike Sherman see as fits for their “west coast” offense.  On the roster, the Dolphins have players but not necessarily “play makers”.

Brian Hartline, for now has to be considered the number one WR and while he is fast he isn’t blazing and while he can make fantastic catches he doesn’t always get separation from the defenders.  Without a seam threat TE, safeties don’t have to cover the TE’s and can roll coverage to the outside to take away the deeper passes.  Clyde Gates is still an unknown.  Most receivers don’t fair well in year one of their NFL career and Gates was no different.

What we didn’t see was his true speed.  On special teams Gates was no more effective than Davone Bess returning punts.  He was supposed to give the team a solid vertical threat but even that never came to fruition.  By mid-season many fans had forgotten about him.  Of course last year by mid-season fans forgot quite a lot about the Dolphins in general.

Recently, Gates stated that Miami fans should “Believe in me and believe in Miami”.  Strong words that simply echo in an empty stadium until the team can prove they know how to win.  Consistently.  The good news for Gates is that he seems to be a solid fit for the WCO.  He has good hands and has fantastic speed.  If Mike Sherman can get the TE’s more involved Gates and Hartline could find more favorable match-ups and Gates really should have an easier time learning the defensive reads.

Davone Bess is almost all money when he is called upon.  Last year was a bit of a production drop but there were a lot of variables that played into his problems.  Still Bess is in reality a possession receiver.  A third down threat and not a home run hitter.  He is not a guy who will take it all the way once he has the ball and his yards after catch stats (remember I’m not a stat guy) are not that impressive.

Bess does however bring a reliable outlet to the QB.  It’s unlikely that he will move from the slot or be utilized in anything more than out patterns and crossing routes but in this style of offense, he should flourish with the mismatched coverage and could have a very productive season this year.  While he won’t likely become a James Jones type of player and not a Greg Jennings, Sherman and Philbin will likely have their Jordy Nelson on the team.

After those three, the WR list grows by numbers and not names.  Consider that we are still waiting to see what exactly Roberto Wallace and Marlon Moore can add to the roster as neither have made themselves known on offense or on special teams.  Julius Pruitt and Chris Hogan round out the roster at the position and neither are ready to explode onto the NFL scene.

The Dolphins through the draft have viable options regardless of whether they opt for a first round talent such as Michael Floyd or second round talents like Mohamed Sanu, Reuben Randle, Alshon Jeffrey, or maybe a third on a guy like Chris Givens or later with Juron Criner.

So does this team have the receiving talent to successfully run the WCO or are they still a big outside threat away?  Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

UPDATE:  The Dolphins have signed Legeedu Naane to a one year deal

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Tags: Brandon Marshall Brian Hartline Clyde Gates Davone Bess Joe Philbin Miami Dolphins Michael Floyd

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