But that's exactly what's happened. Hartline has 514 receiving yards, one ahead of Denver's Demaryius Thomas, and is averaging 17.7 yards per catch. This is All-Pro-type production.
Hartline has piled up that yardage with his ability to get behind defenses, exactly the type of trait the Dolphins supposedly lost at the position when they traded Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears.
As it turns out, the fourth-year pro has serious speed.
"Shhh," he recently said, via The Palm Beach Post. "Thanks for ruining it."
"Yeah, man," he said. "Definitely."
"He can run," Bess added, echoing what Greg Jennings said about Green Bay Packers teammate Jordy Nelson last season. "That's good that they sleep on him, because come game time, he can open up on them."
Ryan Tannehill is throwing passes to Hartline, but the now-quarterback remembers being perceived as "deceptively fast" when he was a wide receiver for Texas A&M.
"I've had that label before, too," Tannehill said. "It's just kind of a stigma that comes with it."
While an outsider might be surprised by Hartline's speed, we can't imagine opponents don't see it when they study game tape. Black or white, the guy can play.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.