There's no doubt Ernest Wilford was the biggest and most expensive mistake by the Dolphins personnel department a year ago. Even as the entire team was turning things around, even as the personnel people were basking in the glow of successfully remaking the roster, Wilford was a disappointing revelation at receiver.
Even on a team with plenty of open jobs at said receiver spot, Wilford was not only unable to crack the lineup, he couldn't get active on nine of 16 game days.
But with the new season comes new hopes that last year was last year and this year will bring new results. So today's Florida Sports Buzz column asks the question, can Wilford make the team in his jack-of-all-trades role as a receiver and H-back?
Today's Dolphins In Depth gives you the answer: Yes, but Wilford is going to need Providential intervention to help that happen.
What does that mean?
It means that all things being equal, all players currently on the roster being healthy, Wilford is going to find himself on the outside looking in when roster decisions are made. With everyone healthy, Wilford won't make the team as a tight end and definitely won't make it as a receiver. And he's not all that good at special teams, so his fate will be sealed.
He'll be offered in trade or simply released if no other team bites.
But, of course, it's not that simple.
The fact is injuries and other variables do factor. The fact is David Martin's status could affect Wilford. If Martin is unable to return from his sports hernia, then Wilford's chances increase. If rookie John Nalbone continues to drop passes in training camp as he did in offseason camps, then Wilford's chances increase.
If Brian Hartline and Patrick Turner -- Miami's two rookie receiver additions -- fail in training camp, then Wilford's chances increase.
Do you know the odds of those things actually happening? Not great. Martin is expected to recover from his surgery to repair the hernia. That would give the Dolphins three more-experienced players at the tight end position -- Martin, Anthony Fasano and Joey Haynos. Add to that a rookie (Nalbone) the Dolphins have high hopes for at the position and one sees the numbers are against Wilford at TE.
Here's another factor against him making it as a tight end: Miami TEs are expected to be good blockers ... and Wilford has never really been a distinguished blocker at receiver. So now he's going to block linebackers better than he's blocked cornerbacks? Hard to believe.
The use of Wilford as a "jack-of-all-trades" also hurts Wilford at receiver. You see, the guy who seemed slow off the scrimmage line and unable to separate from coverage last year has added 15 pounds to his frame. So with the addition of Turner and Hartline and the expected improvement of the younger veterans, how is a heavier, less explosive Wilford supposed to pass the guys playing exclusively at receiver?
Think about that question. The logical answer seems grim.
The only way it could happen is if Miami suffers a plague of injuries at receiver. The only way, in fact, Wilford makes the team is if guys get hurt and the two rookies are simply not ready to perform.
So the use of Ernest Wilford as an H-back and receiver is interesting. But does it mean he's more likely to make the Dolphins when roster decisions are made?
You tell me.
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