The Miami Dolphins recently sent fan-favorite slot man, Davone Bess, to the Cleveland Browns for next to nothing.
Although this move shocked many, it really was not too shocking to avid fan members. Bess possessed no elite qualities and his production can be easily replaced.
Yes, I understand “Mr. Third-down” was the most consistent “hands catcher” the Dolphins have had over his tenure with Miami, but the former undrafted free agent can be replaced.
Perhaps his replacement is already on the squad?
Last year Miami spent a seventh-round draft pick on a little known prospect from the University of Nevada. Although this wide receiver was an incredibly reliable target during his time at Nevada, his draft stock took a hit after running a slow forty-yard dash (4.62) and possessing no elite qualities at the wide receiver position (sounds a bit like Bess..).
In his two years at the University of Nevada, this wide receiver totaled 147 receptions for 2,243 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Who is this player? This is Rishard Matthews.
Miami also spent a sixth-round selection on Michigan State wide receiver, B.J. Cunningham. Cunningham was quickly beat-out by Matthews and UDFA Jeff Fuller, a former Texas A&M WR, for a roster spot. Cunningham was then quickly snatched up by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Back to Matthews.
In his first season with the squad, the 6’0” 212 lbs. receiver reeled in 11 receptions on 19 targets for 151 yards and no touchdowns (13.7 ypr). Not bad for a seventh-round pick, eh?
Matthews saw action in Miami’s final five games of the season and had his best showing in Miami’s season finale facing off against the division rival New England Patriots. Matthews snagged three receptions on six targets for 36 yards.
So, in five games Matthews was able to reel in 11 receptions for 151 yards. Let’s take a look at this over a sixteen game season.
Receptions Per Game: 2.2
Yards Per Game: 30.2
16 Game Season Receptions: 35.2 – round it to 36 we will give him the benefit of doubt.
16 Game Season Yardage: 483.2 – round to 484 as stated above.
If Matthews matched his production of two receptions per game and averaged 30 yards receiving per game, he would have had a better rookie season than the likes of Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson, Roddy White, and Demaryius Thomas (We can assume Matthews would have snagged a few touchdowns over a sixteen game schedule).
The bottom line is that I want to see this kid given a shot. I understand the fact that the team signed Brandon Gibson, whom starred in a slot role for the St. Louis Rams. But Matthews is similar to Bess in that he does not do anything spectacular, but he is a solid hands catcher and runs clean routes. I would really like to see what this kid can do being featured primarily as a slot receiver.
Now, Matthews is no lock to make the team either. We can assume that Hartline, Gibson and Wallace are the only “locks” at the wide receiver position to make the squad. The team also has Matthews, Jeff Fuller, Armon Binns Jr., and Brian Tyms battling for the fourth and fifth receiver spots – Miami typically will carry five receivers on their 53 man roster.
The team has also signed a plethora of UDFA receivers in Miss St.’s Chad Bumphis, Mount Union’s Jasper Collins and Chris Denton, Northern Iowa’s Terrell Sinkfield, and Ark. St.’s Taylor Stockemer.
My prediction as of today is for Matthews and Fuller to make the 53 man squad. Matthews and Fuller both have the upper hand over the rookies. While Binns did not impress me at all last season and Tyms is still incredibly raw.
I like Matthews as Miami’s fourth receiver in four and five receiver sets, while also seeing some snaps at the slot position spelling Gibson. And I see Fuller as Miami’s big red-zone target. Not to mention he and Miami quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, had a nice connection at Texas A&M University.
I’m extremely excited about these two kids.