Dolphins Position Preview: Wide Receivers
With the start of training camp on the horizon, let's break down the wide receiver position by examining the 2019 performance, the offseason changes on the roster and what to expect this summer.
PLAYERS AT POSITION ON THE ROSTER: Matt Cole, Isaiah Ford, Jakeem Grant, Mack Hollins, Allen Hurns, Gary Jennings, Ricardo Louis, Kirk Merritt, DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Albert Wilson
2020 TRANSACTIONS: Re-signed Ricardo Louis (Feb. 4) ... Trevor Davis became an unrestricted free agent (March 18) ... Waived T.J. Rahming (March 18) ... Re-signed exclusive-rights free agent Isaiah Ford (April 17) ... Waived Andy Jones and Terry Wright (April 18) ... Signed undrafted rookie free agents Matt Cole and Kirk Merritt (April 29)
KEY 2019 STATS: DeVante Parker 72 catches, 1202 yards (16.7 avg.), 9 TDs; Albert Wilson 43 catches, 351 yards (8.2 avg.), 1 TD; Allen Hurns 32 catches, 416 yards (13.0 avg.), 2 TDs; Preston Williams 32 catches, 428 yards (13.4 avg.), 3 TDs, Isaiah Ford 23 catches, 244 yards (10.6 avg.)
2019 RECAP: Amid the Dolphins' disappointing 2019 season, there were some really encouraging developments at wide receiver. The most obvious was the breakout season of Parker in his fifth season after being the 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft. Parker ended up leading all AFC wide receiver in receiving yards and touchdown catches and probably deserved a spot in the Pro Bowl. The other encouraging development was the performance of rookie free agent Preston Williams, though his season ended in disappointment when he tore an ACL in the team's first victory of the season, against the Jets on Nov. 4. Williams not only earned a starting job as a rookie, he was the team's best offensive player in the first half of the season. Albert Wilson got off to a slow start as he continued his recovery from his 2018 hip injury, but he started making plays down the stretch. Isaiah Ford is another receiver who came on in the final weeks of the season, and Allen Hurns got the job done whenever called upon. Jakeem Grant again was seldom used on offense, catching only 19 passes in 10 games.
THE TOP SUMMER STORYLINE: The focus here easily has to be on how Williams looks some eight months after his knee injury. A healthy Williams would give the Dolphins a tall playmaking wide receiver duo with him and Parker. Another player to watch is Gary Jennings, who was a 2019 fourth-round pick of the Seahawks and was claimed off waivers after Seattle let him go. Jennings was injured in the only game he played for the Dolphins, but he was highly productive at West Virginia (1,096 yards as a junior, 13 touchdowns as a senior).
PROJECTED OPENING-DAY STARTERS: Based on offensive coordinator Chan Gailey's recent history, the best guess is the Dolphins will line up in a three-wide receiver set most of the time. Any way it shapes out, Parker will be a starter, and so will Williams if he shows he's healthy. In a three-receiver set, the most likely starter for the slot at this time would have to be Wilson, who accepted a $6 million pay cut to return for a third season with the Dolphins.
Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @apoupartFins.