Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Most Intriguing Training Camp Battles, No. 5: Last WR spots

With unanswered questions at quarterback and a lack of experience (and quite possibly talent) at wide receiver, the Dolphins will likely feature a run-heavy offense in 2008. That being the case, they'll still carry least five receivers on the roster because, well, that's just how things work. The top few spots are likely set, with Ted Ginn, Jr., Ernest Wilford and Derek Hagan essentially locks to make the squad. Beyond that, things are far less certain.

With Tab Perry already out for the season, the remaining two with NFL experience are Greg Camarillo and David Kircus. A Division II standout at Grand Valley State, Kircus has spent time with the Lions and Broncos since 2003. Camarillo, a special teams standout, earned national attention as the overtime hero in the Dolphins' lone victory last season.

I have been of the belief the entire offseason that the No. 4 receiving job would go to one of the aforementioned players and with Perry out of the picture, it comes down to Kircus and Camarillo. Kircus is probably the better receiver, though Camarillo does have some fill-in ability on offense and is also a standout special teamer. In the end, I think Camarillo's special teams prowess wins out. After all, Miami probably won't be going four-wide often anyway.

While teams sometimes carry six receivers (or in some cases, more), I don't see the Dolphins being one of those teams. There are too many other areas that will need extra depth and on a run-oriented team there just isn't much point in keeping six receivers on the squad only to dress four every Sunday.

Going on the assumptions that Kircus or Camarillo grabs the No. 4 job and the Dolphins only keep five total, the final spot will be given to one of five undrafted free agents on the squad. It's clear the Dolphins are hoping to find a potential hidden gem at the position, given that six of the 19 undrafted free agents Miami signed we receivers. (One, Marcel Reece, has since been cut.) Barring any additions to the team during camp, the competition will be between Davone Bess, Jayson Foster, Selwyn Lymon, Justin Wynn and John Dunlap.

The Dolphins simply signed too many for me to go into great detail here, so here's some very brief background info on each:
  • Davone Bess, Hawaii (5-10, 190) - by far the most productive of Miami's UDFA receivers, start 39 games in Hawaii's passing attack and catching 293 passes for 3,610 yards and 41 touchdowns
  • Jayson Foster, Georgia Southern (5-7, 175) - A former college quarterback, he's small but possesses great moves and quickness; rushed for 3,835 yards and 54 touchdowns in his career
  • Selwyn Lymon, Purdue (6-3, 215) - possesses the best size of any Dolphins UDFA receiver; caught 73 passes for 1,030 yards and five touchdowns in two seasons with the Boilermakers; dismissed from team in Nov. 2007 for second drunk driving charge that year
  • Justin Wynn, Grand Rapids CC (6-2, 190) - Hasn't played organized football since 2004, when he caught 35 passes for 559 yards and five touchdowns at Grand Rapids CC; instead of playing football in college, did landscaping and worked at Kohl's to support his family; played pee-wee football with Dolphins UDFA receiver Selwyn Lymon and Bills rookie wideout James Hardy
  • John Dunlap, NC State (6-1, 220) - the lone player of the group that wasn't signed soon after the draft; instead latched on with the team after trying out at a June minicamp; started 22 of the 42 games he played for the Wolfpack, totaling 85 receptions for 924 yards and seven touchdowns
So who will it be? The good money is on Bess, who is easily the most experiences and polished of the group. Foster is intriguing because of his athleticism and potential special teams impact, but his size limits his potential a receiver. Lymon has great size and some of the betters skills of the group as well, but he'll be on a short leash given his past. As much of a feel-good story as it'd be, Wynn seems like a long shot given his lack of experience. Dunlap is nothing more than a camp body and has the worst chance of the group.

All things considered, the guy that initially wins the job following the preseason might not be guaranteed to stick around. Kerry Reed initially earned a roster spot after final cutdowns only to be relegated to the practice squad when Camarillo was claimed off waivers from the Chargers. With the lack of talent right now, there's no doubt the Dolphins will be scouring the waiver wires come September 1. You can't rule out preseason Keyshawn signing either.

The position(s): Final wide receiver spots

Number of spots: Two

The contenders:
Greg Camarillo, David Kircus, Davone Bess, Jayson Foster, Selwyn Lymon, Justin Wynn, John Dunlap

Predicted winner(s):
Camarillo and Bess

Bess has the best hands and the most experience, and although he runs in the 4.6s I feel he has enough speed to be productive in the slot. Quite frankly, I don't see why he couldn't be better than the extremely-overrated Wes Welker. As for the rest of the crowd, I'd peg Foster and Lymon as the most likely practice squad candidates, with Wynn trying to latch on elsewhere and Dunlap pretty much disappearing into oblivion.