Brian Hartline was a 2009 fourth round draft pick out of Ohio State. Critics of the 2012 Miami Dolphins, unfairly grouped him under a label that read “The Worst Receiving Corp In NFL”. Hartline was never selected or projected to be the main receiving option of the Dolphin offense. Despite that fact, he has put up relatively respectable numbers. He has also managed to survive a regime change that came with a change in offensive philosophy. Over the offseason the team re-signed Hartline to a five-year, $30M contract instead of letting him hit the free agent market.
Dolphins fans should be excited about the 2013 Hartline. In 2012 he was the receiver that drew the defenses attention. The opponent’s best corner always had Hartline as his assignment, and there are a lot of players who would have crumbled under that pressure and turned in an off year. However, Hartline turned his career best year with 74 catches and 1083 yards and earned honors as a Pro Bowl alternate. He did this in a new offense with a rookie QB.
His detractors would point out that 23% of those yards and his lone touchdown came in week 4 against the Arizona Cardinals. Last I checked the Cardinals are an NFL team, and no other receivers had that level of success against them in the season. Hartline’s value is in his route running, body positioning and hands. He is very efficient, only dropping five of the catchable passes thrown his way.
I know it sounds like he already had his breakout season in 2012, but this is the season where life as a Dolphin receiver is going to be different for Hartline. Now defenses have to game plan for Mike Wallace, Dustin Keller and Brandon Gibson. In addition to that, they have to be concerned about a running game that promises to be more explosive this year with upgrades to the offensive line as well as the selection of Mike Gillislee in the draft. It looks like Hartline is not going to see the other team’s best corner, and the play action passing will be so much more potent.
QB Ryan Tannehill has a season under his belt, and he and Hartline have already established a rapport. Tannehill won’t be the only one to benefit from the new weapons; look for Hartline to benefit as well.
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