The Dolphins wide receiving corps has seen a slight shakeup since the end of the 2018 season. Gone are Danny Amendola and Leonte Carroo, but returning from injury will be Albert Wilsonand Jakeem Grant. All the while, the ever-reliable Kenny Stills and enigmatic DeVante Parkerare back for another season in aqua and orange.
With a new quarterback taking the reins of Miami’s attack and little certainty present around the offense in general, which wide receiver will lead Miami’s aerial charge going forward?
First, let’s break down the obvious candidates:
With 2018’s leading receiver (Amendola) now playing for the Detroit Lions, we can look to last season’s second leading receiver as a possibility to accumulate the most receiving yards in 2019. That would be Kenny Stills, whose downfield playmaking ability has been a staple of Miami’s offenses since the veteran pass catcher arrived in South Florida back in 2015. Stills seemed to be a favorite target of Ryan Tannehill, but with Tannehill now with the Tennessee Titans, it remains to be seen whether Stills will develop a similar rapport with Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Regardless, Stills’ experience, ability, and the lack of other star power on Miami’s receiving corps will certainly culminate in the 27-year old netting a spot atop Miami’s depth chart, but how will he be used in new offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea’s offense?
It would make the most sense to place Stills exactly where he’s been for the majority of his time as a Dolphin: on the outside, taking the top off of defenses. Yes, his yards per reception mark has dipped just below 15.0 over the past two seasons from its height of 17.3 during Miami’s playoff run in 2016, but Stills is still at his best and most dangerous on the perimeter, which I believe will work to his advantage when it comes to racking up a significant yardage total. Given Fitzpatrick’s penchant for throwing down the field, having the grizzled veteran at quarterback to start the season would probably result in more big plays for Stills.
When it comes to Parker, availability will be the key. Given his reputation for being fragile and often injured, Parker surprisingly played in 13 or more games in each of his first three seasons before appearing in just 11 in 2018. That said, even when he’s on the field, he’s often been at less than full strength and has struggled to make many big plays for Miami’s offense. If (and that’s a monstrous if) Parker can remain healthy, it’s possible that the former first-round pick can finallycapitalize on his potential and ability.
The Dolphins’ front office was smart to strike a one-year, $5 million contract extension (club option) with Parker instead of picking up his $10.1 million fifth-year option. If Parker makes strides this season and shows his worth, the Dolphins have him on a relatively cheap contract for 2020. If not, the team can jettison him with no dead cap hit. My feeling is that O’Shea will attempt to use Parker (6’3”) as a red zone weapon who will be looked to when the Dolphins need a contested catch on the outside.
Wilson was on track to be Miami’s leading receiver last season before an unfortunate hip injury ended his 2018 campaign after seven weeks.