There is perhaps no more interesting position for the Miami Dolphins in their 2020 training camp than their wide receivers. 2019 breakout star DeVante Parker headlines the position group, but behind Parker, some early 2020 opt-outs have seen the wide receiver room take a hit. However, it remains one of the most talented positions on this Dolphins team. In this preview, we examine how the focus has intensified on some of the more prominent players in the group, as well as identifying some potential breakout players to look for in 2020.
DeVante Parker primed for an even bigger season in 2020
Despite being an injury-riddled underachiever during his first few seasons with the Dolphins, Parker overcame the odds to post one of the better receiving lines in the AFC last season. The former first-rounder dominated to the tune of 72 catches, 1202 yards, and over 16.7 yards-per-catch. Parker’s nine touchdowns ranked second in the AFC behind only Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews.
With an improved offensive line and a second-year playing with veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, Parker could post even more significant numbers in 2020. Add in the return of second-year phenom Preston Williams and an upgraded running game, the Dolphins’ offense will be a much improved and all-round unit in 2020. Defenses will no longer be able to focus solely on the ultra-talented Parker, which will lead to more opportunities to shine for the former Louisville product.
The return of the Williams means big things for Miami’s offense
As previously mentioned, Preston Williams returns from injury in a hugely anticipated sophomore campaign for the Dolphins. The former Colorado State Ram was a terror in the preseason last year and followed that up with 32 catches for 428 yards and three scores through seven starts in 2019. He was emerging as a consistent downfield threat and the big-play receiver before suffering a serious knee injury in Week 9 against the Jets.
By all accounts, Williams looks fully healthy once again this offseason following a return to full activities. He has been making big plays in training camp, and that should translate into the regular season. However, he has areas to improve, although fans will argue he was more valuable in 2019 than his stats suggest.
If he can do a better job taking advantage of his targets and opportunities in this offense, Williams can be an excellent sleeper for the Dolphins. Paired with the veteran Parker, this duo will cause fits for some of the better secondaries in the AFC. The two big wide receivers may end up as one of the best tandems in all of football in 2020.
Young talents ready to step into a significant role for the Dolphins
Earlier this month, PFN’s own Chris Spooner took a look at the remnants of the Dolphins’ wide receiver room minus the 2020 opt-out players Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson. The wide receiving corps took a hit with the loss of these two players, but the cupboard is far from bare in Miami. There are plenty of talented options left to battle for the third wide receiver spot, and Spooner believes that battle will ultimately come down to speedster Jakeem Grant and former seventh-rounder Isaiah Ford.
As Spooner explains, each player shares a similar Relative Athletic Score (RAS) with Grant at a promising 6.38 and Ford possessing a score of 5.06. While Grant has the experience and speed edge, Ford has the size advantage in this competition. This battle should go down to the wire and could end up as a timeshare ultimately. Grant can provide agility and elusiveness on returns and as a gadget player while Ford is a sneaky bet to lead this team in catches from this slot receiver role.
Other wide receivers that could make an impact for the Dolphins in 2020 are former Seahawks’ draft pick Gary Jennings, 2020 seventh-rounder Malcolm Perry, and undrafted free agent, Kirk Merritt. Each of these players is talented and will get a shot to prove their worth in 2020. Jennings has the size and speed to become an everyday starting receiving in this league, while Merritt has a great chance to make this team out of camp.
Spooner labels Perry as the “wildcard” of the wide receiver group, and his transition from a hybrid QB/RB in college to NFL WR is one of the big stories to watch as we get closer to the NFL regular season. If he can carve out a role on this offense early, he could prove to be one of the more valuable picks out of the 2020 NFL Draft. Perry’s early rapport with rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa is a good sign of things to come for the Dolphins.