Top 20 Miami Dolphins of 2013: No. 5 Charles Clay

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As we wait to see how the Miami Dolphins’ new GM Dennis Hickey attacks the offseason, let’s continue our look back on the season that was by ranking the team’s top 20 players of 2013. Today, we’ll look at player No. 5, tight end Charles Clay.

2013 statistics

Receptions: 69
Receiving yards: 759
Yards per catch: 11.0
Receiving Touchdowns: 6
Rushing attempts: 7
Rushing yards: 15
Rushing Touchdowns: 1

Pro Football Focus breakdown

Position rank: 27 of 64
Receiving rank: 10 of 64
Pass block rank: 28 of 64
Run block rank: 50 of 64
Snaps played: 868
Targets: 98
Drops: 7
Yards after catch: 373

Why he’s No. 5

When Dustin Keller suffered a horrific knee injury during the preseason, it appeared as though the Dolphins had no reliable tight end to turn to. That theory quickly proved false when tight end/fullback/H-back Charles Clay exploded onto the scene during his third season, catching 69 passes for 759 yards and a team-best six touchdowns. Clay fell a mere 32 yards short of the franchise-record for receiving yards by a tight end, which was set by Randy McMichael in 2004, and finished tied for ninth in the NFL in receiving yards at the position.

He became one of quarterback Ryan Tannehill‘s most reliable targets in clutch situations, and the versatile pass catcher produced some of Miami’s most impressive plays of the season by breaking and dodging tacklers on his way to a first-down conversions and scores. The Dolphins are still void of a true seam-threat tight end who can also be a strong in-line blocker, but Clay projects to be a lethal weapon on the offense for years to come.

Why he’s not higher

Clay was once on pace to approach the 1,000-yard milestone, but his production faded down the stretch. In the final three games, Clay only managed a combined 81 receiving yards and no touchdowns. He also struggled as a run blocker throughout the year, grading more efficiently than only 14 tight ends who played at least 25 percent of their offense’s snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. Despite Clay’s emergence as a highly-productive receiving threat, tight end remains a need for the Dolphins in the 2014 offseason.

Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.

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