As we wait to see which GM candidate the Miami Dolphins decide to hire, 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. 9, wide receiver Mike Wallace.
Receiving yards: 930
Yards per catch: 12.7
Pro Football Focus breakdown
Position rank: 66 of 111
Receiving rank: 71 of 111
Snaps played: 964
Yards after catch: 277
Why he’s No. 9
Looking at statistics alone, it’s hard to justify Mike Wallace’s top 10 standing on the team. He failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving, which was quite the disappointment considering his $60 million contract. But he was able to use his speed to consistently separate downfield from coverage despite a bland offensive scheme that kept him on the right perimeter almost exclusively.
If only quarterback Ryan Tannehill would have been able to connect on half of the deep ball attempts thrown his way the narrative of Wallace’s season would have completely changed. According to Pro Football Focus, Tannehill missed on 26 passes that traveled at least 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage on the right side of the field. Many of those incompletions were attempts to hit a home run with Wallace but led to missed opportunities by way of an under or overthrow.
Regardless, Wallace’s speed opened up opportunities for his teammates. The attention he demanded made life easier for the likes of Brian Hartline, Charles Clay, Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews to be productive. He might not be worth the coin and he’s probably underutilized, but Wallace is still a valuable asset to Tannehill and the offense.
Why he’s not higher
Wallace’s aforementioned lack of production says it all. Despite owning the fourth-largest contract in the league among wide receivers, Wallace ranked 28th in receiving yards and 38th in receiving touchdowns. Tannehill’s inaccurate deep ball certainly played a role, but so did Wallace’s 11 drops. Only four receivers dropped more passes than Wallace did in 2013.
With a more innovative offense, better pass protection and a more accurate deep ball from Tannehill, Wallace could resurface as one of the game’s most explosive playmakers in 2014. If not, though, he’ll likely be one of if not the most overpaid player in the league next year given his $17 million cap hit.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.