|Get used to seeing Mike Wallace (17) |
stiff arming and burning defenders.
Wallace is rightfully considered a "speed receiver" (he might be the fastest player in the league), but while it is his main strength, he should not be defined as just a speed guy because he is an all around balanced player. Most guys who are considered speed receivers, like Randy Moss, run a very limited number of routes, which makes them easier to defend since defenders can better anticipate where they are going to be running even before the snap.
Early in his career, the Steelers had Wallace running a limited number of vertical routes that allowed him to showcase his speed. However, by his second season, they realized how good Wallace is and used him more on short routes and crossing routes across the middle, making him harder to cover. Most speed receivers refuse to run shorter routes, especially over the middle, because they tend to take big hits from linebackers and safeties. However, Wallace has such good hands that he will hang onto the ball despite taking these big hits, and more importantly he shows rare toughness in being able to take hits from guys 50 pounds heavier than him and quickly bounce back. This is something that Randy Moss refused to do his entire Hall of Fame career and it is something you will never see guys like DeSean Jackson do.
Wallace probably does not get the credit he deserves because he is the rare receiver who does not run his mouth off and he is a real team player. I have no doubt that by the end of this season, Wallace will be considered in the same class as Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Calvin Johnson. While all three of those guys are significantly bigger than Wallace, what Wallace lacks in size, he makes up with speed and toughness. He is one of the most exciting players to watch in the entire NFL and, at age 25, we have yet to see the best of Wallace.