As the Miami Dolphins prepare for the start of training camp, we break down every position with a look back at what happened in the offseason, what to watch in the summer and what might happen in the regular season.
We continue the series with the wide receivers.
ON THE ROSTER
• Lynn Bowden Jr. — Second year out of Kentucky; entered the NFL as a third-round pick of the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020
• Isaiah Ford — Fourth-year player out of Virginia Tech; entered the NFL as a seventh-round pick of the Dolphins in 2017
• Robert Foster — Fourth-year player out of Alabama; entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2018
• Will Fuller V — Sixth year out of Notre Dame; first-round pick (21st overall) of the Houston Texans in 2016
• Jakeem Grant — Sixth year out of Texas Tech; entered the NFL as a sixth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2016
• Mack Hollins — Fifth year out of North Carolina; entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017
• Allen Hurns – Seventh year out of the University of Miami; entered the NFL in 2014 as an undrafted free agent
• Kai Locksley — Rookie out of UTEP; entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent
• Kirk Merritt — First year out of Arkansas State; entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent
• DeVante Parker — Seventh year out of Louisville; first-round pick (14th overall) of the Dolphins in 2015
• Jaylen Waddle — Rookie out of Alabama; first-round pick (6th overall) of the Dolphins in 2021
• Preston Williams — Third year out of Colorado State; entered the NFL in 2019 as an undrafted free agent
• Albert Wilson — Seventh year out of Georgia State; entered the NFL in 2014 as an undrafted free agent
Jan. 6 — Merritt signed to a futures contract
March 14 — Declined to tender a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Isaiah Ford
March 15 — Hollins became an unrestricted free agent
March 19 — Signed Foster as a free agent
March 23 — Re-signed Hollins as a UFA ... Signed Locksley as a free agent
April 29 — Selected Waddle in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft
July 16 — Re-signed Ford as a free agent
Parker: 11 starts, 63 catches, 793 yards, 12.6 average, 4 touchdowns
Grant: 4 starts, 36 catches, 373 yards, 10.4 average, 1 touchdown
Bowden: 4 starts, 28 catches, 211 yards, 7.5 average, 0 touchdowns
Williams: 7 starts, 18 catches, 288 yards, 16.0 average, 4 touchdowns
Hollins: 2 starts, 16 catches, 176 yards, 11.0 average, 1 touchdown
It was a turbulent year for the Dolphins wide receivers, starting with the decisions by both Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns in August to opt out because of COVID-19. Then there were a series of injuries, the most notable being the foot issue that sidelined Preston Williams after eight games for a second consecutive season. DeVante Parker battled nagging injuries on and off and that kept him from being able to duplicate his breakout performance of 2019. With all the injuries, seven different players ended up starting at wide receiver last season, and that's not counting Malcolm Perry, who was used as a running back/receiver.
What was missing more than anything from the WR group last year was big-play ability, so the Dolphins made sure to address that issue in the offseason and they did that by signing Will Fuller V as a free agent before taking Jaylen Waddle with the sixth pick in the 2021 NFL draft. The Dolphins also welcomed back Wilson and Hurns and managed to keep intact the group from last season.
THE TOP SUMMER STORYLINES
There is no position on the Dolphins roster that will feature more competition when it comes to roster spots because the team has way more NFL-caliber wide receivers than spots available. So deciding who stays on the 53-man roster will be the first order of business here. The Dolphins also will use the summer to figure out the best way to make full use of Waddle's obvious physical attributes. Another thing to watch this summer is how Wilson and Hurns look after sitting out last season, as well as how Williams looks after a second major injury in two years.
LONG SHOT TO WATCH
Not quite sure he fits into the "long shot" category, but we'll put Robert Foster here because he shouldn't be easily dismissed when it comes to making the 53-man roster. In fact, Foster was among the most impressive wide receivers in the spring practices open to the media and combined with his special teams experience could earn him a roster spot.
THE KEY SUMMER BATTLE
This one is easy, and it's the battle for the last roster spots behind Waddle, Fuller and Parker, who should be the three givens at wide receiver. The most logical contenders for the final spots include Bowden, Wilson, Williams and special teams standouts Hollins and Foster. This one should be fun to watch.
BETTER OR WORSE THAN THIS TIME LAST YEAR
With everybody back and with the additions of Waddle and Fuller, this is a slam dunk. In fact, this might be the most improved group on the entire roster compared to the start of the 2020 training camp.
PROJECTED OPENING-DAY STARTERS
It's actually pretty easy to project that the three starters at wide receiver in 2021 will be Parker, Waddle (in the slot) and Fuller, but Fuller won't be in the opening-day lineup because he'll be finishing out his NFL suspension. So for that one game, we could see the Dolphins opening with just two wide receiver or maybe Williams will be the starter outside opposite Parker (assuming Williams makes the team).