An argument can be made that the Miami Dolphins most interesting unit (and by that I mean the unit with the most question marks heading into camp) is the wide receiving corps. After the blockbuster trade that sent pro-bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears for a pair of draft picks the unit seemed to be left without any star power, but the acquisition of Chad Ochocinco/ Johnson made an attempt to change that. Will it be enough to help spark the offensive production from the receiving position? Let’s take a deeper look in this Training Camp Preview.
Despite the perception by some media and fans that the Miami Dolphins receiving corps lacks talent, it is my opinion that this unit is nothing if not skilled. The current roster employs 12 wide outs, that number will be trimmed down to at least six, but more than likely only five that will make the final 53 man roster. Here are my thoughts on what five make the team and what you can expect from them.
Chad Ochocinco: Say what you want to say about Chad Ochocinco, the receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson, most of them are probably going to be true. The man is nothing short of a character, but on the football field 85 has elite talent. Or at least he used to. Ochocinco is coming off a year in which he only caught 15 balls in 15 games and he recorded a mere 276 yards. 2011 was his worst statistical year ever. In 2012 Ochocinco will have something to prove. When you consider that it was as recent as 2009 when he last recorded 1,000 receiving yards and in 2010 he had nearly quadruple his 2011 output, his poor 2011 season seems to be more of a product of not fitting the system then being washed up. Reports out of OTAs indicated that 85 was the most consistent receiver on the field. I think it is safe to assume that Ochocinco not only makes the team, but has a very productive year. It won’t be the Ochocinco that racked up five straight years of +1,200 yards receiving, but it wont be 2011 Ocho either.
*Update* During my writing of this post Chad re-changed his name back to Chad Johnson… its official.
2012 projection: 50 rec, 650 yards, 3 TDs
Legedu Naanee: Aside from having an incredible name, there is nothing really distinct about Legedu Naanee‘s career thus far. He will most likely make the Dolphins roster because of his experience as a veteran receiver. Naanee has seen his production increase slightly each of the last 3 years, from 242 yards in 2009 to 467 last season. While Naanee will most likely not be a game changer, he can be a valuable fourth or fifth option for Miami QBs.
2012 Prediction: 40 rec, 410 yards, 1 TD
Brian Hartline: In the vast landscape of NFL receivers Brian Hartline is a relative unknown, but to Miami Dolphins fans Hartline is a sure handed WR who always seems to make the big play. Hartline will have the opportunity this year to lock up the number one receiver job and get his name out before he lands in free agency. Phins fans can look for Hartline to have a big year in 2012. He has shown flashes of greatness throughout his three years as a Dolphin, now with the number one spot available only he can hold himself back. He is sneaky fast, he has sure hands, the only knock against him has been less than impressive YAC numbers. Last year Hartline recorded 35 receptions for 549 yards. Look for those numbers to improve in year four.
2012 Projection: 65 receptions, 900 yards, 6 TDs
Devone Bess: There is no receiver on this team that is more beloved by fans as Devone Bess. An undrafted free agent signed by the Dolphins in 2008, Bess has evolved into one of the better slot receivers in the game. Bess is a first down machine and in his time as a Dolphin he’s always seemed to come down with catches that keep drives alive. After a great year in 2010 his numbers fell off last year, that and the MCL/ACL injury he suffered in the last week of the 2011 season put a question mark on what we can expect from Bess this year. If Bess is healthy and the Dolphins get more consistent QB play then there is no doubt that he can be a big contributor on this unit.
2012 Projection: 75 receptions, 765 yards, 1 TD
Roberto Wallace: The final available WR spot I have going to Roberto Wallace. He has a lot going for him. He is built like Brandon Marshall at 6’4″ 225. He missed all of last season with a quad injury, but if this guy can be healthy and get on the field he will provide Miami QB’s with a large sure handed target. What he can bring to the field is unknown, but I think the potential of a receiver his size to succeed is an exciting prospect.
2012 Projections: ???
I may be dead wrong with these selections, only time will tell what receivers make the final roster. One of the rookie wide outs B.J. Cunningham, Jeff Fuller, or Rishard Matthews could explode in training camp and make the team, but based on what we know right now I think that I have outlined most likely unit the Dolphins will run out on Sundays.
Football is right around the corner, but until its back remember to keep your Phins Up!