- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Miami Dolphins have a few good position battles this summer. But one that I’m keeping a particularly close eye on is the No. 3 receiver job between Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews and rookie Jarvis Landry.
All three have a legitimate chance to win the position. But who is the current favorite?
2013 stats: 30 receptions, 326 yards, three TDs
Why he can win it: Gibson is easily the most polished receiver in this group. He has the most experience, runs the best routes and has earned the trust of Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, which is important. Tannehill is entering a big third year while learning a new offense. He needs receivers he can trust will be in the right spots. Gibson became a quick study on playing the slot last season. He was getting better and better until getting injured.
Why he can lose it: Gibson is coming off a season-ending knee injury in 2013. He’s progressing well, but Matthews and Landry are getting all the team reps so far in organized team activities. New Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is implementing a new offense and could get attached to his healthy receivers. Gibson cannot win the job from the sideline.
Probability: 40 percent
2013 stats: 41 receptions, 448 yards, two TDs
Why he can win it: Matthews took over for the injured Gibson last season and never looked back. He stepped right in, was fearless and finished fourth on the team in receptions. Matthews is the most physically imposing of the three receivers. He’s strong and able to break through tackles. Matthews is healthy and has playing experience, which is a combination neither Gibson nor Landry can boast.
Why he can lose it: Sometimes Matthews had lapses in concentration last season, which comes with the territory for young receivers. He is not a speedy receiver and his routes can use some polish. His lowly draft status as a former seventh-round pick also doesn’t help.
Probability: 35 percent
2013 stats: N/A
Why he can win it: The Dolphins didn’t draft Landry in the second round to sit idly. Clearly, first-year general manager Dennis Hickey believes Landry is NFL ready and can contribute immediately. Landry’s draft status carries weight. Gibson is injured and not participating in team drills and Matthews is a former seventh-round pick. Landry also probably has the best hands of the three players, despite his rookie status.
Why he can lose it: Landry starts the offseason third on the slot depth chart. That means he has the longest way to go between now and Week 1. As we learned last year, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is not keen on playing too many rookies. Miami’s entire 2013 class provided little production last season, partially because injuries forced them to fall behind. First-year players have to earn Philbin’s trust. Gibson and Matthews already have equity with Miami’s coaching staff with their production last season. Landry is the future at this position, but I’m not sure if he’s the present.
Probability: 25 percent