Building a wide receivers corps like the one the Miami Dolphins have is a lot like building the starting five of a basketball team. Pass catching units need players with a diverse skill set consisting of wide receivers whose skills levels are labeled as: Possession, Burner, Contested Catcher, Versatile, Blocker.
Bringing a fresh perspective is new head coach Mike McDaniel.
“I see aggressive plays as a problem-solving solution, I look like, ‘What is defense? What defense do they play? What issues do they have? Where are they vulnerable?’ and how to attack it. It’s all about finding solutions that defense presents. And then, well, how do we take advantage of our offensive personnel?”Miami Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel
The Miami Dolphins are fresh off a trade that entailed Tyreek Hill as their new primary weapon at the receiver position, with Jaylen Waddle returning after a record breaking rookie year.
There could be more receivers added to the roster and one possibility is through the 2022 NFL draft. Here are three wide receivers who fit the Miami Dolphins offense.
Khalil Shakir, Boise State
Khalil Shakir was a multi-level threat at Boise State. In 2021, as a senior Shakir put up his best season yet. He chalked up 1117 yards on 77 receptions and hauled in seven TDs.
At 6-feet 193 pounds, Shakir is a natural and crisp route runner. He has great body control and made some spectacular catches in his college career. He provides a good amount of versatility as he can line up in the slot and outside.
Though having a smaller frame with average arm length is not ideal, Shakir’s play style does not reflect that. He is a natural pass-catcher with reliable hands. He snatches balls out of the air, on tape his concentration on the ball makes acrobatic catches look easy.
Shakir willingly catches passes over the middle and is not afraid of contact. He’s a really good yards after catch play-maker who’s got excellent field vision and able to slip out of tackles. Shakir had 470 yards YAC in the 2021 season.
Although he lacks an initial burst off the line of scrimmage and has more build-up speed than burners, Shakir is able to beat press man with leverage and foot speed. Furthermore, he gets separation down the sideline and over the middle routes by extending his arms rather than with pure speed.
Boise State’s offense was more spread based compared to what the Miami Dolphins run — a wide zone scheme. Shakir did not get enough experience in diversifying his route tree, running a handful of routes. However, in those routes he has run, he executes those routes and sells others to gain separation and take advantage of space.
Shakir has experience running jet sweeps and motions, and is a valuable asset in the screen game. He also has experience as a returner, as the Dolphins may not want to use Jaylen Waddle in the return game. He’s considered to be a late Day two or early Day three prospect in the 2022 NFL draft.
Kyle Philips, UCLA
Kyle Philips was not so noticeable in UCLA’s offense, which was very much a run first attack — similar to what this new Dolphins offense might look like. At the NFL level, Philips is a great fit for a team that use West Coast offensive philosophy.
At 5-foot-11 and 186 pounds, Philips is a prototypical slot receiver in the 2022 NFL draft, and the kind of prospect teams usually drool over. The Bruin product flashes the foot quickness and toughness to handle slot duties at the next level and lines up all over the field.
His route running is a legitimate weapon and he can be used to both take advantage of schemed separation and to create traffic for defenders. Philips is a fluid athlete with explosive burst and speed who makes full use of his considerable quickness and agility to breeze past defenders.
Defenders are put into difficult spots with Philips. He’s difficult to predict, as his understanding of how to use all phases of his routes is a weapon. His elusive footwork allows no wasted movements between the reception and burst upfield.
While Philips ran a 4.58 40 at the Combine, his play speed is much faster than that. His acceleration on vertical routes allows him to reach his top speed to stretch the field. He is a solid vertical option that can be used on deep crossers, down the sideline or the middle of the field.
What makes Philips intriguing to me as a potential fit in the Miami Dolphins wide receivers group is his blocking skills. Philips is a reliable blocker, coming from a run first system, and shows that toughness on film. He plays much bigger than his size and was frequently used as a lead blocker for UCLA’s running game.
Philips could well be buried on the depth chart if he is selected as a Miami Dolphin, but he should be able to work his way up due to the scheme fit he posses in a Mike McDaniel offense. He reminds me a little bit about current Dolphins wide receivers coach Wes Welker.
Philips current projection is an early Day 3 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Tyquan Thornton, Baylor
NFL Combine sensation Tyquan Thornton shocked the world with his unofficial 4.21 40 time. Obviously, Thornton has blazing speed — his official 40 time came in at 4.28, just a hair under his unofficial 4.21. Thornton utilizes his blazing speed to create natural separation and opportunity in the passing game when the offense moves the ball downfield.
Thornton couples that speed with his 6-foot-3 frame. Having that frame gives him the ability to pluck the ball in the air over defenders with little to no contest.
This makes the Baylor product an intriguing option in the vertical passing game as Baylor was more of a running team. He fits a zone system, can sift through oncoming traffic and explode through tiny creases and cutback lanes.
However, Thornton has concentration drops and does not secure catches, as he can be too focused on gaining yards after the catch. Baylor’s offense did not fully maximize Thornton’s skillset, which means whatever NFL team drafts him is based on projection.
Opportunities will come at the NFL level for Thornton but it will be at a learning curve as he has not had many reps to showcase his entire skillset.
Thornton does block well in his weight class as the blocking reps in Baylor’s offense helped develop him. I do think Thornton will start of as WR4 and make his way up on special teams as a gunner.
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