The big news coming out of the AFC East right now, besides the return of Logan Mankins, is the decision that the Miami Dolphins made to cut Chad Johnson and avoid the distraction associated with his arrest. The biggest thing about Johnson’s release is the actual football ramifications on the Dolphins, because losing Johnson cuts the skill of the wide receiver position. After all, he has been the best wideout in the ‘Fins training camp and had a high chance of being the team’s number one receiver on opening day.
With Johnson released, however, the focus shifts on Legedu Naanee, Brian Hartline, and a 2010 undraftee out of San Diego State in Roberto Wallace. Hartline is the most consistent and best receiver out of that group, so he’s a virtual lock to start and get a high amount of targets after returning from injury. Naanee has looked good in training camp and there were rumblings (likely from the ignorant) that he could have usurped Hartline for the No. 2 job had Johnson stayed, but I’m not in favor of that after Naanee’s inconsistent year in Carolina in 2011. I mean, Hartline is way better than Naanee. Better hands, more consistent, way better deep threat etc. The Dolphins really need him back.
The young and athletic Roberto Wallace is easily the most intriguing wide receiver out of that trio, because Hartline and Naanee aren’t too exciting. Hartline is a good deep threat, but you know what you get out of him; consistent yardage. Naanee is a sure-handed, somewhat boring wideout who helps a team and is ideally a No. 3 receiver.
As for Wallace, this is a guy who runs a sub-4.50 forty and is 6’4″, 223 pounds. He is everybody’s favorite sleeper to win a starting gig, especially after a big game to open up the preseason. Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Wallace was one of the team’s lone bright spots after hauling in four passes for 71 yards.
An extremely talented wide receiver, David Garrard had this to say about Wallace, “Roberto is going to be a pretty good receiver in this league. He’s that guy I’ve really been looking at and trying to work with. When he puts it all together, he can be a big talent.”
Everything Garrard said above is true, as Wallace can certainly blossom into a quality starting receiver if he continues to develop; he has the physical tools. In fact, the Dolphins played Wallace with the first-team offense yesterday. Naanee is more of a sure-thing, but there is no denying that Wallace has more talented and was a standout in the preseason game. Keep watching the Dolphins wide receiver situation closely, because keeping track of the opponents is also crucial.