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Dolphins receiver Albert Wilson is an underestimated foe for the Titans entering Week 1

NFL: Miami Dolphins-Training Camp Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The regular season is at last underway, which means we get to look forward to the Titans’ week 1 matchup on the road against the Miami Dolphins.

For this piece, I will be breaking down a key player on the Dolphins’ offense, which happens to be the newcomer Albert Wilson, previously with the Kansas City Chiefs. Wilson signed a three-year contract with the Dolphins in the offseason, and is expected to have a significant role in Miami’s offense.

Behind guys like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, Wilson had 42 catches for 554 yards and three touchdowns. Now, several Titans fans I’ve talked to don’t really value Wilson’s presence on Miami’s receiving corps; In other words, he’s being underestimated. But with fourth-year wideout DeVante Parker being sidelined for week 1 in addition to struggling for most of his career, Wilson will start the season opener and is a receiver Tennessee needs to look out for.

Let’s get to the tape.

In Miami, Wilson is essentially the underneath replacement for now Cleveland Brown receiver Jarvis Landry. It’s highly unlikely that Wilson ever sees the large target shares that Landry had with the Dolphins, but Wilson is the quicker, faster alternative. This is especially apparent in the screen game, where Wilson was a big piece for the Chiefs in 2017.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid loved putting Wilson in bunch formations, and it sounds like Dolphins coach Adam Gase is going to do the same. Wilson is the main target on this play in a bunch set. The other two receivers are there to block for him while the left tackle also goes into the open field to provide additional insurance.

This play doesn’t look like much from Wilson since it relies more on the execution of the blocks, but it’s important to note his speed on the play. As long as he gets blockers in the open field, he’ll be able to do the rest and pick up yards after the catch.

According to Football Outsiders, Albert Wilson was the most valuable screen receiver in regards to the replacement level in 2017, leading all screen receiver in Defensive-adjusted Yards Above Replacement with 51 DYAR in this area. This is an area the Dolphins look to exploit on Sunday against the Titans, as Wilson is basically a monster in the underneath game.

But Wilson is more than just a screen receiver, giving him a little versatility on the line of scrimmage.

Against the Broncos in week 17, Wilson formed a strong bond with the new starting quarterback for the Chiefs in Patrick Mahomes, In that game, Wilson caught 10 passes for 147 yards and was a key contributor on Kansas City’s game winning drive.

This clip is not from said drive, but it illustrates how good of a route runner Wilson is. He’s running a simple curl route, but what makes it impressive is just how smoothly he executes it. He cuts inside against the slot defender to start off, putting the defensive back on skates as he comes back to the ball. What’s important about his route is how Wilson is able to space himself far enough that the slot defender has no shot (and let’s be honest it isn’t even close) at disrupting the pass.

It’s not the kind of splash play you’d expect from a receiver like Antonio Brown or DeAndre Hopkins, but it illustrates how near flawlessly Wilson has the fundamentals down as a receiver.

Here, Wilson gets to show off some of his athleticism. Again, he’s the screen receiver in a bunch formation, but this time the results look a little more impressive. Once Wilson sees a gap to go through, he accelerates and gets the first down with ease. But he doesn’t stop there, eluding the defensive back #27 with a nice cut to pick up additional yards after the catch.

On this play, Wilson runs a simple jerk route, where the receiver looks to be running a shallow crossing route before cutting back outside. This is effective when you want to isolate a receiver onto a linebacker, like so in the play above. Andy Reid disguises this as a pick play and instead schemes Wilson open with the jerk route. Despite Mahomes’ throw being behind, Wilson adjusts and cuts the corner, getting a first down in the process.

Finally, Wilson can on occasion make the spectacular play.

This is an excellent catch. Wilson not only displays the tenacity and catch radius advantage on the defensive back, but manages to keep both feet in bounds close to the sideline. There’s not much else to say on this except for “Wow what a catch!”

Simply put, Wilson is a threat the Titans need to watch out for. He is an extremely effective receiver underneath when asked to work in the flat, run screens, run shallow crossing routes and run jerk routes. He’s also a guy that can contribute in the intermediate passing game, as highlighted in that week 17 matchup at Denver.

To conclude, as slot receivers go, Wilson is pretty good, and needs to be surveyed by the Titans defense in DeVante Parker’s absence, as he’s a new piece in a Dolphins offense trying to turn the corner.