Ryan Tannehill may not been as impressive in 2012 as his fellow rookies Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson, but he cemented himself into position as the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. Now, with their quarterback in place, the Dolphins front office is looking to surround their young signal caller with talented players, doing their best to give Tannehill the best chance at making the most of his opportunity.
One area in which the Dolphins were criticized all season long was at the wide receiver position. The Dolphins put two receivers on the field that deserve a good amount of respect in Davone Bess and Brian Hartline. The two did what they could against defenses that focused on the two speedy possession receivers. Defenses learned early on that Tannehill was gifted at beating the blitz and adjusted to drop back into coverage while focusing on getting pressure with their front three or four. Bess and Hartline still put up nice numbers in terms of yardage, but both struggled to find the end zone.
Hartline is a free agent this off-season and will likely be looking to get a contract comparable to that of Green Bay Packers wide out, Jordy Nelson who signed a four-year $13.989 million contract in 2011. The Dolphins have already made it clear they are willing to let their free agents test the market rather than offer lavish contracts right off of the bat.
Even without the threat of Hartline leaving in free agency, the Dolphins were focused on making additions to the receiving corps and the NFL Rumors have been buzzing with the possibility of Miami bringing in Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace or Dwayne Bowe. The other possibilities will come through the draft.
It is there that the Dolphins will find Ryan Swope, a four year receiver out of Tannehill’s alma matter Texas A&M. While Tannehill was the quarterback there, Swope was his favorite target and the two of them hooked up for over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011, Tannehill’s last as the Aggies quarterback.
Tannehill was replaced by a young man the people often call Johnny Football, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel. The quarterbacks may have changed but Swope remained productive, catching 72 passes for 913 and 8 scores and his defining moment of 2012 came against the vaunted defense of the Alabama Crimson Tide. That game represented the only loss the eventual National Champion Crimson Tide would suffer, and Swope tore them apart with 11 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown.
At 6’1” and 206 lbs, he is not the big bodied receiver the Dolphins are looking for, but he would be a great addition to an offense that already resembles the one Swope knew in college. He has a good relationship with Tannehill and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was his coach for a couple of his seasons as an Aggie.
The Dolphins can go several directions in the draft. They go into it with five selections in the first three rounds and they will be looking to fill some of the holes that sunk the team in the 2012 campaign. Drafting Ryan Swopes would be a good start.
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.