Dec 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) catches a pass during warm-ups before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Wallace has game winning potential. He is big, fast, and can stretch the field. He also drops passes. He led the league in that department last year. He is also not exactly known for being a locker room leader. Or for that matter a team player. At least not 1oo% of the time. That however is not why the Miami Dolphins should skip over the soon to be free agent WR.
The draft is.
There are no guarantees when it comes to the draft. Teams are burned as much by WR’s in the draft as they are any other position. Which is exactly the argument that will be made in favor of signing Mike Wallace. Hear me out for a second though. Yesterdays amazing 40 yard dash times by WR’s at the NFL Combine were not exactly run by track stars. They were run by college football WR’s and they will come at a fraction of the cost signing Mike Wallace will.
Now don’t get me wrong here. If the Dolphins opt for Wallace then that is fantastic. A speedy WR on the outside will do wonders for Ryan Tannehill. But Wallace isn’t exactly Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, or Julio Jones. He is a one trick pony. A deep threat with blazing speed. He isn’t going to be your go-to guy on 3rd and short any more than he is going to be your go-to guy on 3rd and long. He is going to be your 2nd option.
Consider this for a second. The safety doesn’t bite and Ryan Tannehill notices that on 3rd and long Wallace is doubled up deep. Where is going to go with the ball? To his primary receiver. The guy running the 10 yard route. The TE or the slot receiver. If Tannehill sees one on one up top, Wallace is the guy. The second option on the play. Wallace is the guy who will draw coverage off the ten yard slant or the 5 yard out. He is the guy that is going to clear the middle out for the TE or RB. It’s a valuable asset but not one necessarily worth 60 million a season. Not when you can draft a guy with better hands and the same amount of speed to do the exact same thing.
Sure the Dolphins have tried in the past. Clyde Gates was a bomb. He couldn’t catch and he couldn’t get off the line of scrimmage physically. Ted Ginn, Jr. had the speed but lacked the consistency to catch the ball and he failed at getting away from stronger corners. The Dolphins need a legit threat on the outside and yes, Mike Wallace possesses that threat. He is however, not the complete end-all answer that Dolphins fans are hoping for. A much more balanced Pittsburgh Steeler team failed to make the post-season in 2012. Mike Wallace didn’t get them in how can you believe that he is the difference maker for the Dolphins?
The reality is that Wallace is one piece in a puzzle. An expensive piece at that. What the Dolphins need is a guy who can stretch the field and knows how to use his body consistently to shield defenders. Like what Dwayne Bowe does. A guy who you can throw the ball to in traffic and tight coverage and know that your receiver will fight every play for that ball. Wallace is close but it’s not quite complete.
It’s easy to sit back and say the Dolphins should do this and they should do that but they have options this year and a checkbook that can be opened in a lot of different directions. As I said, if Wallace is their guy, then great. I can’t wait to see him in Miami. I do however see the potential in the draft to add the same type of player who can do the same type of things. Most receivers take a year or two to learn the NFL level. Miami wouldn’t be asking a rookie to run timing routes or understand the concept and schemes of hot routes and reads. He only needs to understand the basic cuts, moves, and up-field speed to make him a play-maker. Julio Jones was used that way by Atlanta in his rookie season.
The Dolphins have options and if they pass on the 60 mill plus salary of Mike Wallace then perhaps they can add a Greg Jennings type for far less and get that blazing fast speed guy in the draft where 10 prospects posted 40 yard times at 4.45 or better according to the Palm Beach Post and other media outlets reporting the Combine 40 times. The fact is speed is available and the Dolphins have need for that type of speed. If they play their free agent money correctly, they could find themselves adding game changers on defense, playmakers on offense, and still be able to add that deep threat youngster they covet.
Should the Dolphins pass on Mike Wallace? It’s a fair question and I’m sure the Dolphins have asked themselves that question as well. A couple more weeks and will see what the Dolphins come up with for their free agent plans or if the speed available at the position in this years draft makes them rethink their intentions. The Dolphins won’t add both. It’s an either or situation. Get the speed guy in free agency and add others in the draft or skip the speed in FA and hit the draft with the dedication to add your playmaker. It’s a hot topic. Wallace and this very question has been presented by all three of the local papers today. Apparently the speed of the draft prospects has got a lot of people intrigued about the possibilities.
Wallace does have one thing on his side, he is still young enough to produce for more than enough years.