As we wait to see how the Miami Dolphins‘ offseason unfolds, 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. 2, defensive end Cameron Wake.
Forced fumbles: 2
Pro Football Focus breakdown
Position rank: 2 of 52
Pass rush rank: 2 of 52
Run defense rank: 33 of 52
Snaps played: 694
Quarterback hits: 20
Why he’s No. 2
Those who hold the opinion that Wake had a down year in 2013 and is now beginning to decline clearly weren’t paying attention. Yes, Wake’s sack total dropped by 6.5 sacks from the 15 he put up in 2012, but he also played 242 less snaps. A knee injury limited Wake in late September and for most of October.
Despite the injury, Wake still finished as the league’s second most efficient 4-3 defensive end according to Pro Football Focus. His 20 quarterback hits ranked third in the entire NFL at the position which was quite impressive considering the No. 1 and No. 2 ends on the list both played over 150 more snaps than Wake did. Wake’s 41 hurries ranked ninth.
Although he wasn’t able to convert as many of his pressures into sacks this past season, Wake remains a premier pass rusher. Virtually unblockable at times, Wake utilizes an explosive first step, the speed and quickness to blow by the tackle and the strength and power to run through him to harass quarterbacks all game long.
He also might be one of the most often held pass rushers in the NFL. It became very frustrating for Dolphins fans to watch Wake get held on numerous occasions in 2013 only to see the yellow flag remain in the official’s back pocket, but when it is called it can kill any offense’s drive.
At 32-years-old, Wake could begin to slow down any season now, but he showed no signs of being on the verge of doing so in 2013. Hope remains that he’ll be able to finish the final three years of his contract in Miami as a highly productive player.
Why he’s not higher
Wake had impressive credentials for the No. 1 spot, but he wasn’t able to take home top player on the team honors on this list. Part of that is because he wasn’t able to lead the Dolphins in sacks or reach the double-digit milestone for a third time. That honor belonged to Oliver Vernon, who subsequently overshadowed Wake to a slight degree. Wake remains a far more complete player, and my money is on No. 91 leading the Dolphins in sacks in 2014; but Vernon’s emergence took away some of the spotlight.
Although, Wake doesn’t appear to be slowing down as a pass rusher, he did regress as a run defender. Pro Football Focus gave him a -0.2 accumulative run defense grade in 2013 which was down from his +10.4 grade against the run in 2012. The much-maligned play of the Dolphins’ linebacker corps was a big reason why Kevin Coyle‘s defense became vulnerable on the ground this past season, but the inability to consistently set the edge by the defensive ends, including Wake, was also a factor.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.