Posted by Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson
We examined each AFC East team's "weak spot" based on its 2008 performance. In this post, we explore the Miami Dolphins' wide receiver position.
The term "No. 1 receiver" is used too loosely for my taste. Off the top of my head, I think there are about 10 true No. 1 wideouts in the league right now.
In the AFC East, New England Patriots star Randy Moss is the only true No. 1 who I would put on that list. Until recently Terrell Owens -- who just joined the division this winter -- would have been included, but today he just misses. Of course Owens could rebound in a huge way this season with the Buffalo Bills.
Miami is a team that could use a true No. 1 receiver. Ted Ginn has solid No. 2 potential, but he remains a work in progress. He possesses rare long speed, but is unrefined as a route runner. Ginn has average hands. His lack of elite lateral agility makes him best suited as an outside-the-numbers deep threat where he can blow by opposing cover men. However, quarterback Chad Pennington's ordinary arm strength nullifies some of Ginn's deep-play potential. Ginn also is a dangerous weapon when he gets the ball quickly off a one-step drop or when he has the ball handed to him on reverses. He is very good with the ball in his hands. With all of this being considered, I have no problem with Ginn as Miami's second option. But only with a clearly superior pass catcher in the fold.
There is a lot to like with Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess. Both have excellent hands and are extremely reliable in the short-to-intermediate portions of the field. In a way, each is like a lesser version of Wes Welker. Each should continue to be very valuable in the slot, in multiple-receiver packages and as chain-moving complementary players.
Miami did use some 2009 draft picks to help the position, but I'm not fond of any of the incoming rookies. USC's Patrick Turner (selected in the third round) and Ohio State's Brian Hartline (a fourth-round pick) could exceed my expectations. But I expect both players to be best suited for a No. 4 receiver role. Each will struggle to gain separation at this level.
Then there is West Virginia quarterback Pat White, the Dolphins second-round pick. He is the massive wildcard in this discussion. While his physical traits suggest that he could transition to wide receiver and I love his ability with the ball in his hands, what I just don't know (and assume Miami does) is how well does this guy catch the football? During his college career and the pre-draft process, that was something that White did not put on display. By not showing off his hands, it put up a red flag to me in this regard.
I understand that he wants to play quarterback -- and I respect that. (I do think he has a chance to succeed to some degree behind center at this level.) But why not show off everything that you can do well while on audition to NFL decision-makers and scouts if in fact you do catch the ball well? In time, White could flourish as a wide receiver, but even in the best-case scenario, surely it will take a fair amount of time for him to learn a new position -- if he even does it at all.
Miami's lack of a No. 1 wide receiver is magnified with the lack of a dynamic pass-catching tight end. Anthony Fasano is a solid two-way tight end, but he isn't a seam stretcher or explosive playmaker. Once again, with a true No. 1 wideout on board, what he brings to the table would be that much more valuable.
When he's focused, former New York Giants star Plaxico Burress qualifies as a true No. 1 receiver. The Arizona Cardinals' Anquan Boldin and the Cleveland Browns' Braylon Edwards -- each the subject of trade talk -- also would be right on that fringe. Edwards has the better shot of asserting himself as a true No. 1 receiver who still excels even against defenses designed specifically to stop him. Any of these three players would be a more-than-adequate addition to Miami's receiving corps and address a glaring weakness.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.