The Miami Dolphins currently have 12 wide receivers on their official depth chart and are expected to add another key offensive piece, likely in the form of a receiver, with the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL draft later this month.
It’s the position the team is the deepest at currently this offseason for the second year in a row.
From old faces to new faces, to locked-in starters to guys trying to make the team, each brings in a different skill set and different experience hoping to make the active roster.
But who are they? Who has their name pretty much carved out in a spot already? Who’s most likely to make the team? Who’s on the bubble?
DeVante Parker is the name that comes to mind here. The former 2015 first-round pick led Miami in receiving last season with 793 yards in 14 games. He’ll enter the upcoming season as the Dolphins’ No. 1 receiver and look to build on his two strongest seasons of his career (2019, 2020). In those seasons, Parker combined for 1,995 yards and 13 touchdowns on 135 receptions.
Will Fuller should also be a receiver that makes the team. Fuller signed a one-year, $10 million dollar deal in free agency just a few weeks ago to come to Miami from the Houston Texans. The Dolphins made most of his money guaranteed whether he makes the team or doesn’t, signaling that he should have a roster position. Miami also went out and picked Fuller out of a talented group of free agent receiver prospects and worked to put him in the aqua and orange, so he should suit up for them.
Fuller is versatile in the sense that he played a lot out of the slot in his career, but also popped out a good bit when necessary to become a successful deep threat. Miami General Manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores must be thinking Fuller can play similarly in South Beach with Parker down one sideline and him opposite on the other.
Still Likely to Make the Team
Jakeem Grant even though he only started four games (14 appearances) for Miami last season. He is a few years into his four-year, $24 million dollar contract as a WR and kick returner, but has seemed to earn the trust of the coaching staff to be the sole returner on special teams. So even if he isn’t a top-three starter at the WR position, he should make the team mostly for special teams.
Third-year wideout Preston Williams should also make the team and will likely battle for playing time, assuming the Dolphins draft an offensive skill piece at No. 6.
Williams missed the end of his rookie campaign with a torn ACL in 2019 and a foot injury that kept him out after week nine in 2020, both stints placing him on injured reserve. His injuries in the last two years have allowed those players “on the bubble” to see the field more. However, Preston should leapfrog them to start the 2021 campaign.
Malcolm Perry is a unique player in the sense that the former Naval Academy quarterback can hop onto the field and play either as a signal-caller, running back, or a WR. Last season’s rookie appeared in nine games (two starts) and did a little bit of both rushing and receiving. Grier and Flores eyed him in the draft and used him how they needed to last season, so there isn’t a reason why they should be moving on from the wild card any time soon.
Despite starting just two games, Mack Hollins did appear in all 16 games and recently signed a new contract to stay in Miami. He was also on the receiving end of the Hail Mary pass to the sideline from a face-masked QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to set up kicker Jason Sanders’ game-winning kick against Las Vegas, a play that won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Hollins earned his two starts when the team was decimated up front with injuries but filled in well. He likely will be in the middle of the pack on the depth chart, but his new contract makes me think the Dolphins see something from the Rockville, Maryland native they don’t want any other team to have.
On the Bubble
The rest of Miami’s receivers right now appear to be on the bubble with those six players, in theory, making the active roster.
The receiver closest to making the team has to be veteran Albert Wilson. He restructured his contract before opting out due to COVID-19 last season. Instead of earning upwards of close to $11 million dollars, he has the chance to make up to three million dollars this year.
However, with Miami going out and getting Fuller who can play in the slot, and having a WR in Williams who has speed like Wilson, carrying Wilson seems unnecessary.
Lynn Bowden Jr.
Lynn Bowden Jr. is kind of in the same scenario as Wilson, but also has some of the same talents as Perry. However, there are people with similar skills as his who do them better who aren’t on the bubble and there just may be no space for him on the final 53-man roster.
Isaiah Ford will likely see time on the practice squad again and have to continue trying to prove himself and work his way up to the active roster. Grier and Flores were done with him in 2020-21 and even traded him to the New England Patriots, but after New England released him, Miami scooped him back up.
He earned playing time back on the active roster due to those Dolphin injuries, but the Virginia Tech graduate always hovered around 30 yards per game and minimal catches.
Kirk Merritt went undrafted last season and signed with Miami and has stuck around with the organization for another season. He appeared in just one game last season but recorded no statistics.
Additionally, veteran Robert Foster is also in this category. Foster has spent time with the Buffalo Bills and Washington Football Team and is now onto his third team hoping to get a more solidified role. Like Fuller, he too signed a one-year contract and will make just more than $1 million dollars.
Foster will be looking for his first TD since his rookie season (2018) and will be hoping a stop in Miami can get his career back on track. But first he’ll have to prove he’s more of the 500-plus yard Foster on 27 receptions (13 games) from 2018 than the 37-yard year he had in a struggling receiving offense in Washington with limited opportunities last season.
Finally, Allen Hurns is also on the chopping block. Like Wilson, he too opted out of the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 and will likely get left behind on the roster. After coming over from the Dallas Cowboys, Hurns was used in the short-field and slot, but in his year off, the Dolphins were forced to move on at the position without him. That change could be permanent.
What to Watch for at No. 6
Miami will likely be able to take the first WR off the board if it wants to. It will likely either claim Louisiana State University receiver Ja’Marr Chase or either of the University of Alabama WRs DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle. The Dolphins could also snag University of Florida tight end Kyle Pitts as well to add as a weapon on its offense.