When NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks recently listed his top 5 deep threats at wide receiver, there was a surprise on the list. Sitting at number five was none other than the Miami Dolphins own Kenny Stills.
Stills was acquired in March when the Dolphins shipped a third round draft pick and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to the New Orleans Saints for the speedy receiver. Although Still already has two years of NFL experience under his belt, he’s only 23 years old. And he’s fast. Very, very fast. In high school, he placed in the top 3 in the San Diego league finals, and he recorded a 4.38 40 yard dash at the 2013 NFL Combine.
But is it surprising to see Stills listed as a top NFL deep threat, along with the likes of DeSean Jackson, T.Y. Hilton, Martavis Bryant, and Jordy Nelson?
If you watched any of the Saints games last season, you saw a player that averaged 16.5 yards per catch during his first two seasons, adding 11 receptions of 40-plus yards. But what really endears him to Miami Dolphins fans is his nose for tracking the ball in the air and fighting for the ball.
Miami’s offense, led by offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, is intent on taking more shots downfield in 2015, and the team accumulated several new toys for quarterback Ryan Tannehill with exactly that in mind. With Stills’ ability to accelerate and burst past defenders on vertical routes, defensive coordinators around the NFL are well aware of his explosiveness and big-play potential.
A dynamic route runner who specializes in running double moves on the outside, Stills will get plenty of opportunities to show he belongs in the conversation as one of the top deep threat receivers in the NFL.
What makes this list written by Brooks so interesting is the fact that departed wide receiver Mike Wallace - currently of the Minnesota Vikings - was left off of the list despite the constant hype regarding Wallace's blazing speed and potential as a deep threat.
Perhaps what's happened is that NFL experts are at last coming to the realization that Wallace is not all he's cracked up to be, as a large majority of Dolphins fans have come to realize. While you could use the argument that Ryan Tannehill wasn't able to fully utilize Wallace's speed, the other side is that Tannehill's preference towards short and intermediate passes exposed Wallace's lack of ability in the other facets of his game.
Brooks' list should bring a large grin - something akin to the cat that ate the canary - to Dolphins fans everywhere, as Stills' presence on the list and Wallace's absence is a form of confirmation to what fans have been saying for months on end. Wallace's departure was not just about dumping salary, it was about removing a piece that didn't fit and replacing him with someone with a similar skillset and could also do all the other things that makes him a fit in the offense.
Stills said he didn't want to be seen as a replacement for Mike Wallace when he was brought into the facility, and he shouldn't be. What he should be seen as is an overall upgrade over the now departed wide receiver. Stills may not be quite as fast as Wallace, but his ability to fight for the football in the air and track it more than makes up for it.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
Latest Dolphins News