With the 2023 NFL season approaching, the South Florida Florida Today News reviews 10 storylines to keep an eye on in a 10-part series ahead of the first day of Miami Dolphins training camp, which is scheduled for Wednesday.
A great opportunity awaits Dolphins players like running backs Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr. and rookie DeVon Achane. The same opportunity awaits wide receivers Braxton Berrios, River Cracraft, Robbie Chosen, Cedric Wilson Jr. and more.
The Dolphins need a No. 3 receiving option behind star forwards Tyreke Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and just about anyone can fill that role during training camp.
Coach Mike McDaniel said in February about who would win the job.
“You really have to do well in a competitive environment because there are talented players that you have to compete against to get a place as the third most popular recipient,” he said.
The Dolphins’ No. 3 wide receiver has a lot of action ahead of him, given that McDaniel loves his passing offense and the defense will be focusing a lot on Hill and Waddle, perhaps even more so than last season.
This means quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will be looking for the #3 option in his progression in some games, the #1 option other than Hill or Waddle in other games, and the safety valve in other games.
Last season, tight end Mike Gesicki was the No. 3 receiver, third in receptions (32), fourth in yards (362), and third in touchdowns (5).
You can pretty much get rid of a tight end this year by being the No. 3 wide receiver because the Dolphins’ tight ends, led by veteran Durham Smythe, mostly line up or block tight ends.
Thus, among runners and wide receivers, including the slot receiver, there is an important role waiting to be filled.
And apparently no one is included in the fees with a handicap.
“I try to refrain from picking any player in any position as much as possible, just because, frankly, my approach to the whole scenario is that if you want to get a job, you can win it,” McDaniel said. “It will be based on merit on the field. I think there is an opportunity here.”
Berrios, a former University of Miami standout who spent one year in New England (2018) and the last four years with the New York Jets, could win the starting slot receiver position, a role he held with the Jets.
Berrios’ tally dropped last season, from a career-best 46 receptions and a career-best 431 yards and two touchdowns in 2021 to 18 receptions, 145 yards and no touchdowns in 2022.
“I love a lot about Braxton,” McDaniel said of Berrios, who returned to All Pro for the Jets in 2021. “I like that he is a playmaker.
“I think the more opportunities we have to play with the ball in our hands (the better for us). You guys know I feel like we have an elite distributor in Tua. So if you have scorers, then if you use a basketball reference, I see Braxton as a scorer, a guy who can play with the ball in his hands.
Mostert, Wilson and Ahein could easily fill the role of receiver No. 3. Mostert was fourth in receptions last season with 31. Wilson and Acane also have good hands. It’s unclear how the runner rotation will be shaken out, but McDabiel loves to throw at his runners.
The Chosen One, former Robbie Anderson, Robbie Anderson and Chozen Anderson are also in contention for the No. 3 wide receiver. At 6-foot-3, the fast Chosen has had trouble off the field, including last season when he was kicked off the field during a game by interim Carolina coach Steve Wilks.
But he also has skills. In 2020, while with the Carolinas, he had a career-best 95 receptions as well as a career-best 1,036 yards and two touchdowns. In 2017, while with the Jets in his second season, he had 63 receptions for 941 yards and seven touchdowns.
Wilson, who had 12 receptions for 136 yards last season playing moderately, looks far from ready to become the No. 3 receiver, but you never know for sure. He’s with the Dolphins mainly because in 2021, while with Dallas, he recorded 45 receptions for 602 yards and six touchdowns.
Kracraft had nine receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns last season, but his strength may have been in blocking.
Other wide receivers such as Eric Ezukanma and Brilon Sanders are unlikely to be No. 3 wide receivers due to their inexperience compared to their competitors.
However, no one can be discounted. There are always surprises in training camp, and one of those surprises could be the Dolphins’ No. 3 receiver.
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