2004 DRAFT PREVIEW: WIDE RECEIVERS

As the weekend of April 24-25 approaches, we preview the 2004 NFL draft with a series examining the top prospects at each position, how the Dolphins stands at each position and what the Dolphins might do at each position. We continue our series with a look at the wide receivers.

The top prospects

This is by far the best position in the draft, and that would have been the case even if sophomores Larry Fitzgerald and Mike Williams hadn't been declared eligible to be drafted. There are as many as eight wide receivers who have been mentioned as possible first-round picks, starting with the two previously mentioned guys. But there are some scouts who would tell you that Texas' Roy Williams might be the best prospects of all. He put on a show at his pro workout a few weeks ago and put himself in a position where he conceivably could be drafted second overall by Oakland. The other top wideout prospects are Washington's Reggie Williams, LSU's Michael Clayton, Oklahoma State's Rashaun Woods, Wisconsin's Lee Evans and Ohio State's Michael Jenkins. The list of top-notch prospects, however, goes beyond the first round and also includes guys like Devery Henderson of LSU, Devard Darling of Washington State, Keary Colbert of USC and Derrick Hamilton of Clemson. There also are a couple of prospects who like the prototypical skills of a wide receivers but who are intriguing prospects because of their return ability, and that group includes Wes Welker from Texas Tech, Derek Abney from Kentucky and Jason Geathers from Miami (Fla.). Among the top small-school prospects at wide receiver at Northern Arizona's Clarence Moore and Southern Oregon's Andrae Thurman, who was Arizona's second-leading receiver in 2002 before being forced to transfer because of academic issues.

The Dolphins situation

This was one of the team's biggest priorities heading into the offseason after a mediocre performance by the wideout crew in 2003. Chris Chambers continued to emerge as a star, but the Dolphins got very little else from the others, starting with free agent disappointment Derrius Thompson and continuing with the likes of James McKnight and even Oronde Gadsden, who didn't look like himself after he was re-signed midway through the season. The big move, of course, was the acquisition of David Boston in a trade with San Diego. He fills the massive need for a starter opposite Chambers, but Boston does arrive with some risk because of his reputation as a guy who doesn't always put the team first. McKnight and Gadsden are on the free agent market and not expected to be re-signed, while Thompson will be back after he agreed to restructure his contract. Others in line to make the roster and get playing time are former fifth-round picks Sam Simmons and J.R. Tolver. Another guy to watch is former Kansas City third-round pick Marvin Minnis, whose career has been sidetracked by injuries so far.

What the Dolphins might do

After the acquisition of Boston and free agent safety Antuan Edwards, the offensive line became the clear No. 1 priority heading into the draft, but there are a lot more wide receivers worthy of the 20th overall selection than there are offensive linemen. And despite the arrival of Boston, this is still an area that could use some upgrading. So expect a pretty high pick to be spend on a wide receiver, and it could even be the first-rounder. At No. 20, you can forget about Fitzgerald, Roy Williams and Mike Williams, but Reggie Williams, Woods, Clayton or Evans could be awfully tempting. If they don't go wide receiver in the first round and stay with their current allotment of picks, the Dolphins then probably would go in that direction in the third round.

Next up: The tight ends.


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