Number 83 and the Three Dolphins Who Wore It Best

Defensive end Vern Den Herder and wide receiver Mark Clayton were the two standouts at this number.
Wide receiver Mark Clayton  on the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tampa Stadium during the 1988 season.
Wide receiver Mark Clayton on the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tampa Stadium during the 1988 season. / RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

The countdown to the start of the 2024 regular season has begun now that we're under 100 days away, so we'll honor every day the best players to wear the corresponding number for the Dolphins.

Today, we're at number 83.

The top players at each number so far have been Jason Taylor at 99, Jared Odrick at 98Phillip Merling at 97Paul Soliai at 96Tim Bowens at 95Randy Starks at 94,  Trace Armstrong at 93John Denney at 92Cameron Wake at 91Marco Coleman at 90,  Nat Moore at 89, Keith Jackson at 88, Andre Tillman at 87, Oronde Gadsden at 86, Nick Buoniconti at 85, and Bill Stanfill at 84.

As a reminder about the ground rules, the top three will be determined only by what the players did while wearing that uniform for the Dolphins.

Players who wore 83 for at least one regular season game for the Dolphins:

TE Dave Kocourek (1966), TE Jim Cox (1968), DE Vern Den Herder (1972-82), WR Mark Clayton (1983-92), WR Dameon Reilly (1987), WR Scott Miller (1993-96), WR Brian Manning (1997), TE Henry Lusk (1998), TE Hunter Goodwin (1999-2001), WR Albert Johnson (2002), WR Robert Baker (2002), WR Sam Simmons (2003), WR Wes Welker (2004-06), WR Greg Camarillo (2007-09), WR Kevin Curtis (2010), WR Matt Hazel (2015), TE Thomas Duarte (2016), TE Nick O'Leary (2018-19), WR Kirk Merritt (2021), WR Chase Claypool (2023)

The debate on the best 83 on the Dolphins

There were several players who had some impact wearing number 83, but the choice for the top comes down to Vern Den Herder and Mark Clayton. Though sacks didn't become an official NFL stat until 1982, Den Herder led the team in that category four times, including during the perfect season of 1972. He was named Dolphins Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman five times (back when the team gave out that award). Den Herder somehow never was selected to the Pro Bowl. Clayton, on the other hand, is the franchise's all-time leader in receptions and touchdown catches. He also was a five-time Pro Bowl selection. Among the other contributors who wore 83, Hunter Goodwin was a solid blocking tight end, current Dolphins wide receivers coach Wes Welker led the team in receptions in 2006 with 67 and ended a 15-year drought without a kickoff return for a touchdown when he did it in the 2004 season finale, and Greg Camarillo had 50-catch seasons in 2008 and 2009 after having the signature moment of the depressing 2007 season — the game-winning overtime touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens.

The top three Dolphins players with number 83

1. WR Mark Clayton

2. DE Vern Den Herder

3. WR Wes Welker

Dolphins 83's among the NFL's all-time best

The only two Hall of Famers who wore predominantly 83 are Ted Hendricks and Andre Reed, but Clayton, Den Herder and Welker all are among the top seven players based on Pro Football Reference's Approximate Value rating — though Welker's production came mostly with the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos. Clayton and Welker both are borderline Hall candidates and certainly would merit a place among the top five 83's.


Published |Modified
Alain Poupart

ALAIN POUPART

Alain Poupart is the publisher/editor of All Dolphins and co-host of the All Dolphins Podcast. Alain has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989 for various publications and media outlets, including Dolphin Digest, The Associated Press, the Dolphins team website, and the Fan Nation Network (part of Sports Illustrated). In addition to being a credentialed member of the Miami Dolphins press corps, Alain has covered three Super Bowls (for NFL.com, Football News and the Montreal Gazette), the annual NFL draft, the Senior Bowl, and the NFL Scouting Combine. During his almost 40 years in journalism, which began at the now-defunct Miami News, Alain has covered practically every sport at one time or another, from tennis to golf, baseball, basketball and everything in between. The career also included time as a copy editor, including work on several books such as "Still Perfect," an inside look at the Miami Dolphins' 1972 perfect season. A native of Montreal, Canada, whose first language is French, Alain grew up a huge hockey fan but soon developed a love for all sports, including NFL football. He has lived in South Florida since the 1980s.