Miami Dolphins: How Should They Address Needs at Wide Receiver?

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IMarch 4, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 30:  Wide receiver Greg Jennings #85 of the Green Bay Packers looks on prior to the start of the game against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field on September 30, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins seem to finally have a franchise quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Now the Dolphins have to figure out how to get Tannehill some quality receivers to throw to. 

Last season, Tannehill showed a lot of promise as a rookie even though he was working with an extremely weak receiving corps. Brian Hartline had a semi-breakout season and established himself as a reliable option if nothing else. He should be re-signed this offseason. 

Hartline and Davone Bess were the only two receivers with more than 11 catches on the season. Anthony Fasano is an underappreciated but still pretty average receiving tight end. And it could be debated whether guys like Marlon Moore, Rishard Matthews, Charles Clay and Armon Binns even belong on an NFL roster. 

So the Dolphins need both receivers and tight ends. And they don't only need a top talent, they need depth as well. Luckily for Miami, there are a lot of potential receivers out there for them to pursue in both free agency and the draft.

But how exactly should Miami approach solving this problem? There are a number of ways they can go about boosting their receiving corps, but I have one really good place to start: not signing Mike Wallace.

The Dolphins have been linked to Wallace already, but I don't think this would be a good move for them at all. Wallace is incredibly talentedhe has blazing speed and good hands, and he is in the physical prime of his career. At the same time, his numbers have generally declined every year over the past three seasons.

Then last spring, Wallace went through some rough contract negotiations with Pittsburgh, turning down a deal that was even bigger than the five-year, $55.5 million contract Vincent Jackson signed with Tampa Bay that same offseason. 

He was reportedly unhappy after being franchise tagged, and he voiced his frustration while his production dropped significantly. He admitted that he didn't focus as much, which is a very big red flag. So, in my book, that makes not signing Wallace (at an estimated $60 million) a no-brainer.

After Wallace, Dwayne Bowe and Greg Jennings are the top two free-agent wide receivers available. Miami needs to go after both, but I think Jennings should be top priority given his consistency and familiarity with Joe Philbin.

The Dolphins' draft should rely solely on whether or not they sign one of those top free agents. If they do sign one of them, then their goal would be to get depth in the draft. 

This would mean they would use at least one of their four picks in the second and third rounds on a wide receiver, and then another of those picks (or a fourth-rounder) on either another receiver or a tight end.

I think Tyler Eifert would be a great option as a tight end, and while it's a bit of a long shot, he may be available for the Dolphins' earlier second-round pick. Wide receivers that deserve mention as good possible depth fits would be Quinton Patton, Stedman Bailey, Ryan Swope and Da'Rick Rogers.

Patton and Bailey are both a little undersized, but both have great hands, body control and route-running ability. They were extremely productive in college and could become solid No. 2 receivers in the NFL. 

Swope has the Texas A&M connection with Tannehill and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, which could give him a leg up on the competition. I am a bit higher on Swope than most, and I think he would absolutely be deserving of an early third-round pick for Miami.

Rogers is a bit of a risk because of some character questions. After being suspended indefinitely from Tennessee, Rogers quickly transferred to Tennessee Tech, where he put up some big numbers against weaker competition. But Rogers is undoubtedly talented, and he could fall to the fourth round, where I think Miami could definitely take a shot on him.

If Miami does not sign Wallace, Jennings or Bowe, then they will have to look at the draft in a slightly different manner. Cordarrelle Patterson is the one player I think could be worthy of the Dolphins' first-round pick.

Patterson is a freakish athlete, and he could become an elite NFL receiver if he plays up to his potential. He doesn't have the track record of some of the other receivers, but his raw potential alone has pushed him way up on most people's draft boards.

In the off chance that Patterson isn't there at the 12th slot, Miami will really have to bunker down and get some of the other talent in the draft. Keenan Allen and Justin Hunter are the other two receivers in the draft that have the ceiling of becoming very good No. 1 receivers in the NFL.

Zach Ertz is another elite tight end along with Eifert who would be in consideration if the Dolphins don't sign a top FA receiver or draft Patterson. Three other receivers Miami could consider are Robert Woods, DeAndre Hopkins and Terrance Williams, although they would all preferably be the second receiver Miami drafted, after Allen or Hunter. 

The bottom line is that Miami needs to figure out which direction they want to take in approaching their wide receiver deficiency. Whether it's going all out in free agency, deciding to stock up in the draft or a combination of the two, they need to get help for Tannehill.

The Dolphins need to add a top-level talent and a depth receiver, and they could upgrade at tight end as well. If they don't make big improvements, it will make their decision of drafting Tannehill worthless.