Monday, January 18, 2010

2009 Miami Dolphins Position Grades: Wide Receiver

Miami Dolphins fans have a love-hate relationship with the team's receivers.

They loved the sure-handed, big-effort play of Davone Bess, Greg Camarillo, and Brian Hartline. They hate the first-round bust Ted Ginn, Jr. and the apparent waste of a third-rounder, rookie Patrick Turner.

There isn't a star among the bunch, but a few of them certainly stood above the rest in terms of reliability and production.

These are my individual and overall grades for the Miami Dolphins' 2009 wide receivers:

Greg Camarillo: B-

Camarillo was certainly Miami's most reliable receiver in 2009, ranking second on the team in both receptions and yards while not dropping a single pass all season. He ranked 13th in the NFL this season by catching 72.5 percent of all the balls thrown to him.

That being said, he remains a limited talent with average physical tools. He failed to get into the end zone once this season and doesn't stretch the field, averaging just 11 yards per reception.

Camarillo is the prototypical Miami receiver in recent years, with good hands, average speed, a try-hard mentality, and a fairly low ceiling. He's a reliable player, but nothing more than a No. 3 receiver on a good team.

Brian Hartline: B-

Despite ranking third on the team in receptions with 31, Hartline was arguably the Dolphins' best receiver in 2009. Hartline finished third on the team with 506 yards, and his 16.3 average blew away that of any of the Dolphins' other receivers.

Hartline also dropped only three passes, and stretched the field better than any Dolphins receiver as he came up with a couple big deep grabs. Leading the team in receiving touchdowns with three, Hartline also added a rushing score on the season.

Davone Bess: C

It's not saying much, but Bess was the Dolphins' most productive receiver in 2009, leading the team with 76 catches for 758 yards. His two receiving scores tied him for second on the team, along with two running backs and two tight ends.

Like Camarillo, Bess is nothing more than a solid slot guy, and probably shouldn't be starting in the NFL. He'd excel as a No. 3, because he has good hands and decent quickness, though his straight-line speed is sub-par.

Unlike Camarillo, Bess struggled a bit with dropped passes this season, finishing second behind only Ginn with seven drops. Up from five drops as a rookie in 2008, Bess needs to get the problem under control to be one of the better slot receivers in the NFL.

Ted Ginn, Jr.: D

I had high hopes for Ginn after a productive 2008 season, when he caught 56 passes for 790 yards and two scores. Realistically, they were quite solid numbers for a second-year receiver on a run-first team with a quarterback (Chad Pennington) that was lacking in arm strength.

Ginn struggled heavily and regressed significantly in 2009, catching 38 passes for 454 yards and a touchdown while tying for the NFL lead in drops.

Ginn's route-running remains an issue, as does his propensity to run out of bounds or fall to the ground to avoid a hit. Although he made a few splashes as a returner in a big win against the Jets, Ginn struggled on special teams as well and was just a wholly unproductive player for the Dolphins in 2009.

Patrick Turner: F

Up until now, I'd refrained from assigning grades to players that didn't play enough (Tyler Thigpen, Kory Sheets, etc.) and I plan on continuing to do that.

However, Turner is a different case, because unlike a backup quarterback acquired midseason or a rookie running back signed off another team's practice squad as a fourth running back, Turner actually had some expectations this year.

Expectations that he failed to meet, like, you know, playing on offense, catching a pass. That sort of thing.

While another rookie receiver picked after Turner (Brian Hartline) earned significant playing time and led the team in yards-per-catch and receiving touchdowns, Turner appeared in only two games for the Dolphins in 2009, and never played a down on offense.

Turner reportedly struggled to gain separation in practice, and seems to be the Dolphins' most recent version of Ernest Wilford. Unless he improves significantly this offseason, he could find himself released just one year into his rookie contract.

Overall Position Grade: C-

The Dolphins have a few guys at receiver you can't help but like—Bess, Camarillo, Hartline—but all of them are limited physically and their ceilings as pros probably aren't that of starting wide receivers.

What the Dolphins have is a handful of decent slot receivers and a few major disappointments. The former group is worth keeping around, but what the Dolphins desperately need is a true, play-making No. 1 wide receiver.

With Chad Henne emerging as a big-armed, talented NFL quarterback and looming, potentially significant changes coming at running back over the next few seasons, the Dolphins need to begin their search for that No. 1 receiver immediately.

Discuss this post at the Miami Dolphins Spotlight forum!