Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins have a well-established need for game-breaking wide receivers that can run like the wind. While many have slotted Mike Wallace as the Fins’ big target in free agency due to his speed and ability; the NFL Combine may be reshaping those plans.
The NFL Combine, where draft eligible players come to get measured, weighed, examined, and everything else, featured some of the fastest times from wide receivers in recent memory. However, before jumping on the speed bandwagon at wide receiver there are a few cautionary tales.
The New York Jets became enamored with Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill after he ran a 4.37 40-yard-dash at the combine and drafted him in the second round. Hill was a bust in New York dropping too many passes before finishing the season with 21 catches for 252 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Dolphins also took a chance on the Combine’s fastest receiver a few years ago in Clyde Gates. The Fins picked the former Abilene Christian receiver in the fourth round in 2011 and by September 2012 was a former member of the Miami Dolphins.
That said, the Dolphins have the 12th overall pick plus two picks in the second round and two picks in the third round. While there is no superstar receiver like Calvin Johnson available this year, there are plenty of good, fast receivers.
Former University of Tennessee receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter both ran 40-yard-dashes in the 4.4 second range and both are at least 6’1” tall. Patterson and Hunter combined last year for 119 catches for 1,861 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Former USC receiver Robert Woods displayed gamebreaking ability at different points in his career and ran a 4.51 second 40-yard-dash while hoisting 225 pounds in the bench press up 14 times. Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill used to love to throw to Ryan Swope at Texas A&M and the 6’ tall receiver showed 4.34 speed at the combine.
Finally, there are a couple of diminutive receivers who could factor into the plans of a multitude of teams in April. Former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson ran a 4.43 yard 40-yard-dash and was one of the most talented athletes at Michigan the past few years.
Additionally, former West Virginia University Mountaineer receiver Tavon Austin may stand only 5’9 and weigh 171 pounds, but he ran a 4.4 40-yard-dash and caught more than 100 passes for more than 1,100 yards each of the last two seasons.
If the Dolphins so choose, they can target another position in free agency and spend draft picks on young receivers who won’t cost the team major salary cap space beginning this year. It could also serve to bring the cost of receivers like Wallace down in free agency.