Dolphins new WR Albert Wilson has some big shoes to fill

KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 06: Johnathan Cyprien
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 06: Johnathan Cyprien /

Former Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry recently signed a 5-year contract extension with the Cleveland Browns, what does it mean for the receiver who replaced him?

Miami Dolphins new wide receiver Albert Wilson is going to have some big shoes to fill for the Miami Dolphins in 2018.

Jarvis Landry’s $75.5 million contract extension with the Cleveland Browns just set the tone for the caliber of player the Miami Dolphins lost during the 2018 free agency.

Landry will now be paid an average of $15.1 million annually over the duration of his contract which means the newly acquired Wilson will have to step up his game in order to appease the Dolphin fan base after the loss of their favorite playmaker.

But expecting an undrafted Wilson to play up to the standard of the 3-time Pro Bowler Landry is hoping for a little much.

Unlike Landry’s time with the Dolphins, Wilson did not have featured role of involvement and production in the Chiefs offense since coming onto the team in 2014. He is coming off his best statistical season of his professional career: 42 receptions, 554 yards, and 3 touchdowns.

But the Dolphins did their homework in finding a receiver who can bring the same versatility Landry once did.

According to his comments after his arrival from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Dolphins, Wilson has experience playing in many of the same areas as Jarvis Landry on the field.

“I’m pretty versatile,” said Wilson. “I can stretch the field down field or I can pretty much get the ball in my hands quick and can make something happen. I pretty much have experience with the slot, outside and lining up in the backfield. Pretty much whatever they need me to do, I’m pretty much up for it.”

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Head coach Adam Gase backed up Wilson’s statements in late March, but added that the receiver’s 4.4 speed was a key factor in the decision-making. Speed was viewed as an ability Landry was hampered by, and his lack of downfield plays was one area amongst many in which the Dolphins were reluctant to pay him the big-money he desired.

“His speed is hard to ignore,” Gase went on to say of Wilson. “We saw first-hand how fast he is and what he can do, how he can stretch the field vertically. Then I think I’d look at a guy that when you put the ball in his hands, he makes plays. I don’t think I’ve seen too many wide receivers where a team is actually handing the ball off to him and he’s running between the tackles. He’s not a running back; but he has toughness, he has vision and he has ability to do a lot of different things, which is very intriguing to us. We feel like we have a lot of things that we can do with him.”

“He has flexibility outside and inside. He has a wider range of route tree than what he did when he started in the NFL. I think he’s a quick study as well. When you watch him from 2016 to 2017, you see extremes of improvements in certain areas. I think that’s something we noticed with him right away. When you watch those two years, you went ‘Wow.’ He really became an impact player.”

Toughness, experience lining up inside and outside, playing in the backfield, and speed–Wilson seems to have all the traits of Landry plus one. The question is will the Dolphins be able to get that same consistent chain-moving production out of Wilson like they did with Landry?

They may not have to.

After loading up with new offensive weapons like Wilson, ex-Patriots receiver Danny Amendola, and veteran running back Frank Gore this offseason, it seems the Dolphins are going from having a an offensive philosophy of peppering a specific receiver with targets to a more spread-out approach.

“I’m looking at that as more of a group effort of we’re probably going to spread it out a little more,” said Adam Gase. “Ball distribution will be a little more wide-ranging than one guy.”

“We’ll kind of see how we play this out and who is playing where. We’ll probably have guys moving around in multiple spots. I think between DeVante (Parker) and Kenny (Stills) – those two – and now you add Jakeem (Grant) in there and you add (Kenyan) Drake in there, now you’ve got Frank Gore. We’ve got a lot of guys that we’re going to need to get the ball to.”