The Miami Dolphins’ Dozen

The Miami Dolphins currently have 12 wide receivers heading into training camp later in the summer. As recently as the Odell Beckham Jr. signing, the Dolphins have added weapons for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. In last April’s NFL Draft, general manager Chris Grier selected a pair of wideouts in two Washington’s: Malik in the sixth round and Tahj in the seventh. Setting the rookies and OBJ aside momentarily, let’s look at the returning crew and what they did last season.

The Fins Five

Five Dolphins are returning to the receiver’s room from 2023. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are leading the way, of course. The duo combined for over 50% of Miami’s total targets last season. Hill and Waddle were thrown at 275 times out of 549 attempts last season across all position groups. River Cracraft, Braxton Berrios, and Erik Ezukanma are joining them again heading into the summer.

The third option of a receiver is something Miami has been looking for, and last season, statistically, that person was tight end Durham Smythe. A testament to Miami needing to find more wide receiver options, with all due respect to Cracraft and Berrios. Valuable and solid in their own right, both are now roster bubble players with the new influx of talent. Berrios averaged just 2.0 targets a game last season, and Cracraft 1.2. Berrios caught 27 passes last season, a 1.7 per game average. Cracraft reeled in nine of his 12 targets, having the best “success rate” of returning receivers in his small sample size.

Third-year player Erik Ezukanma has yet to make an impact on the field. Looking ready during OTA’s and minicamp following a neck injury, the 2022 fourth-round pick is a candidate for that third option role. Having only accrued three NFL games, Ezukanma showed sparks during last year’s preseason. He, Berrios and Cracraft will all have their work cut out for them in Training Camp.

The Veteran Looks For another Super Bowl Run

Beckham signed with Miami for a very economic and incentive-laden deal. Of course, he is not the OBJ of his New York Giants days, yet Miami has hope for quality over quantity. As a Raven in 2023, he averaged a career-high 16.1 yards per reception on his 35 catches. This is an encouraging number if you are the Dolphins looking for a viable third person within that receiver room. Beckham will compete for targets with the back-end depth receivers yet won’t be relied on nearly as much as Hill and Waddle.

So a close replication of last year, with a bit more on top, could be welcomed by Mike McDaniel and his offense. Beckham played in just 14 games last season, and entering 2024 at 31 years of age, 17 games would be a gift for Miami. Beckham won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021, with once again teammate, defensive back Jalen Ramsey.

The Rookies and Practice Squad candidates 

The Washington pair are each slot candidates, which is an area of need for the Dolphins. Last season, Malik led the nation in receptions for Virginia with 110 in 12 games, 93 of those from the slot, as per the Barry Jackson article. He gained 1,426 receiving yards in 2023.

Tahj can also handle that work and has big-play potential downfield as well. He averaged 18.0 yards per catch in 2023 at USC and scored eight touchdowns last season. He totaled 21 receiving scores and even a rushing touchdown in his collegiate career. His yardage, yards per reception, and touchdown production escalated consistently in his three years at USC. Tahj could be more versatile around the field, while Malik is a bonafide slot option. Both players have some return work from college, and Tahj could be a candidate to earn his roster spot with that duty.

Both players will battle for depth chart positioning with the five returning veterans. Beckham and Ezukanma will add to an already crowded competition for the back half of the group. The rookies are joined by undrafted free agent Je’Quan Burton. Practice squad returnees Anthony Schwartz, Braylon Sanders, and Mathew Sexton round out the dozen. The competition will be at a fever pitch, with half on the chopping block and some eligible for the practice squad.