Miami Dolphins’ rookie wide receiver Kirk Merritt has an opportunity to play some meaningful snaps this season with wide receivers Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson opting out. Merritt went undrafted in this year’s draft, but with the recent departure of Hurns and Wilson, the receiving core desperately needs depth. Preston Williams and Devante Parker are locked in as the starting outside receivers, but there is a hole in the slot position. Merritt stands at 6’0” and weighs 215 lbs. Merritt has a good frame for the position and the necessary athleticism. If Merritt rises to the occasion, he can provide production from a vacant spot on the offense.
Merritt had an up-and-down college career, but he caped it off with two really strong seasons at Arkansas State. In 2018, Merritt caught 83 receptions for 1,005 yards and 7 touchdowns, and last season he caught 70 receptions for 806 yards and 12 touchdowns. Merritt had good consistent production over his two years at Arkansas State. In 2018, Merritt even lead his team in receiving yards. This would lead to him winning the 2018 Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year award. Although his yards and receptions went down in the next season, he had an increase in touchdowns hauling in 12 touchdowns. If he could translate this production to the pro level, the Dolphins would have another weapon in a developing offense and add depth to the receiving group. It is also worth mentioning that Merritt also earned All-Sun Belt Conference honors both years at Arkansas State.
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Like standout receiver Preston Williams, Kirk Merritt did not participate in on the field tests at the NFL combine. However, he did participate at Arkansas State’s pro day, and his results are pretty impressive. Merritt ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33, recorded a 45.5-inch vertical jump, and had a 11’3” broad jump. These are very impressive recordings and it shows that Merritt absolutely has the physical tools to compete at the professional level. Merritt would be another addition to an offense full of speedsters. Running back Matt Breida has been declared by some as the fastest man in the league, and fellow receivers Devante Parker and Jakeem Grant can take the top of the defense. It is exciting to picture all four of these players on the field at the same time.
Given his athleticism, Merritt excels at breaking away from his defender after the catch and he can make leaping catches. He is extremely shifty and has great elusiveness. Merritt does well with screens, and he has the juke moves to gain yards after the catch. He will be making the receiving unit more well-rounded since Williams is more of a possession receiver and parker excels at high pointing the ball. The Dolphins have a multitude of different weapons and different types of receivers, and the quarterback room is strong enough to bring the most out of these guys. Merritt’s one downside is that he is entering the league at 24 years old. It is worth wondering how much he can improve as a player from a technical standpoint if he is entering the league at this age. He is already older than Juju Smith-Schuster, DJ Moore, and DJ Chark and these receivers have NFL experience under their belt. Regardless though, Merritt is gonna have a shot to compete for snaps during the regular season.