Cedrick Wilson shouldn't be forgotten when talking about the Miami Dolphins' new offensive weapons. He recently was named Miami’s “best kept secret” on their 2022 roster by Bleacher Report, but his impact on Miami’s offense won't be a secret for a long.
Wilson was one of the first players the Dolphins signed in free agency this offseason but has since been overshadowed by the Tyreek Hill trade and subsequently all the talk about what a Hill-Jaylen Waddle might be able to produce with their elite speed and game-breaking ability.
It’s true Wilson will fall behind Hill and Waddle on Miami’s depth chart and likely their target share, but if recent history is any indication, Wilson is still in line for a productive season.
The former Boise State standout finished the 2021 season with 45 receptions for 602 yards and six touchdowns — all comfortably career highs. Wilson was given more responsibility each season he was with the Dallas Cowboys, and every time he responded by improving his production.
We’ve decided to dive into why Wilson still will be a vital part of Miami’s passing game despite being third in the wide receiver pecking order.
Wilson is a true slot
Miami was forced to use Waddle on a lot of short passing concepts from the slot last season. Waddle took the role in stride and broke the rookie reception record, but that is not the best way to use a speed threat like Waddle.
Enter Wilson, who took just more than 90 percent of his snaps from the slot last season, per PFF. Not only is Wilson comfortable playing the slot, he’s still an explosive player from that position comfortable winning on short and medium route concepts.
He averaged 10 average depth of target yards last season compared to Waddle’s 7. That has to do with the different types of offenses the teams ran, but Wilson entering the fray means Waddle can get more opportunities to run downfield routes since Wilson can handle some of the quick concepts from the slot with ease.
Opening up opportunities for Waddle won’t show up in the box score, but Waddle becoming a potent downfield threat, along with Hill doing the same, will give Wilson more opportunities to make explosive plays for himself.
Like the popular discourse, opposing teams' game planning will be focused on Hill and Waddle while Wilson can quietly beat each team’s third-best corner from the slot week in and week out.
To counter deep threats like Hill and Waddle, defenses will use a lot of two-high safety formations to protect the deep parts of the field. This largely leaves the middle of the field vulnerable, which is easy to attack from the slot.
Simply put, Wilson’s strength as a pure slot will make it easier for Hill and Waddle to reach their lofty ceiling as deep threats, which in turn will allow Wilson to flourish with all the space they create.
Wilson’s YAC prowess is a weapon
With Waddle and Hill drawing the eye of opposing defenses, Wilson is going to have a lot of open space to operate, which matches up perfectly with his strength as a ball carrier.
According to PFF, Wilson finished 2021 averaging 5.8 yards after the catch per reception, which is higher than both Waddle, who finished with 4.4 and Hill, who finished with 4.0. The Dolphins ranked 25th in the NFL last season in YAC, so getting a player like Wilson was imperative to improved offensive success.
Hill and Waddle get a lot of their YAC by using their speed and explosiveness, which Wilson can do too, but he’s also quite good at making defenders miss in the open field.
The Dolphins needed more players who can generate explosive plays from anywhere on the field and maximize their short passing game — Wilson is perfect for both of those roles.
New Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel is known for maximizing the strength of his playmakers and getting the ball into their hands in creative ways. Under McDaniel, the 49ers produced the eighth-most YAC in the NFL last season.
Wilson is just another weapon at McDaniel’s disposal, and given his successful track record creating yards after the catch, he might produce more big plays than people are expecting this coming season.
Wilson’s ability to make his teammates better while also being perfectly built for McDaniel’s offense sets him up perfectly to go from Miami’s best-kept secret to a weapon that must be accounted for every week.