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Grading New Eagles Wide Receiver Mike Wallace

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Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran players know where to go for a legitimate shot at getting a Super Bowl ring before they hang up the cleats. This was the case with newly acquired Philadelphia Eagles WR Mike Wallace. Citing that his family is well set up after $53 million in NFL earnings, Wallace has a new focus, one that led him to take less money for another stab at a championship.

Wallace also reached out to multiple former and current NFL players, asking them what he should do. The resounding response was to go play with QB Carson Wentz. He took their advice.

The question is what does Wallace bring to the team? During my time with the Scouting Academy last summer, one of my assignments was to watch 5 games of him and create a full evaluation of his game. What follows are the notes from that report, broken into different critical factors with a plus/minus indicator. The language is technical for a reason, as coaches don’t read scouting reports for fancy words, they read them to gain a better understanding of what a player can do and how he fits the team.

You’ll see words like “solid” and “very good” used often. These are indicators for the grade the player is receiving for a certain aspect that’s important to the position. The grade on the 1-7 scale is indicated by the following words: Poor, Marginal, Adequate, Solid, Good, Very Good, and Elite. Having watched more games from his 2017 campaign, Wallace’s traits are consistent with his 2016 tape and the grades held up with little need for alteration. Enjoy!

PHYSICAL/ATHLETIC PROFILE

= Very good athletic ability relying on vertical speed.

+ Elite top speed to get on top of defenders on go routes.

+ Clean injury history; has only missed two games in his career.

- Thin frame with marginal play strength.

RELEASE

+ Solid release; relies on very good foot quickness with stutter, jabs, and hops to achieve desired release, often releases through impatient defenders. Occasionally utilizes shoulder reduction early in route stem to limit surface area to jam.

+ Consistently attacks off coverage, steps on toes, attacks hips and forces defenders to open hips before the breakpoint with very good acceleration off the LOS.

- Occasionally disrupted by jams through jams, easily stacked by physical DBs, and lacks strong inside arm to hand usage to disengage.

- Patient CBs not opening on initial stutter/jab have consistent access to his frame and occasionally gets squeezed to the sideline.

ROUTES

+ Disguises breaks by dipping into blind spots of shuffling defenders.

+ Varies speed throughout stem to test defenders patience, comfortable shifting gears and very good burst out of sink.

+ Loose hips, sinks fluidly at breakpoint and displays good separation quickness.

- Lacks functional strength to escort DBs upfield on comeback routes.

- Drifts upfield on sharp angle cuts and doesn’t snap back at forty-five degree angle on comebacks.

FOOTBALL INTELLIGENCE

+ Good mental processing combined with very good play speed.

+ Snaps head back quickly upon entering CB-SAF void.

+ Good at finding voids vs zone and widening release to create additional space between CB/LB.

+ Regularly alters crossing routes correctly based on coverage.

+ Works to space on scramble drills and shows QB his numbers.

CATCHPOINT

+ Solid tracking of the ball in the air over his shoulders.

+ Solid body control to tap toes along sidelines and reach and catch throws behind his frame on the move.

+ Extends and secures at his eyes on the move without slowing stride.

+ Solid courage over the middle on shallow crosses with defenders in immediate area and will extend with incoming contact.

- Regularly gives DBs a clear path to breakup passes.

- Adequate hands; struggles with drops at and above eyes against contact due to thin frame.

- Struggles to dig out low throws, prefers basket catching.

AFTER CATCH

+ Solid YAC skills; elusive in the open field with very good lateral agility to elude most types of defenders.

- Passive catching below eyes delay immediacy of turns and limits YAC potential and is frequently tackled on first contact.

- Marginal competitive toughness; slides with incoming contact and shies away from blocking bigger defensive backs.

Overall, I had Wallace as a starting Z wide receiver that you can win with. After including weighted values for the most important factors, I assigned a final grade that finished on the plus side of “solid” (4.13 of 7).

Despite being dinged for hands and play strength, his game is well-rounded and includes traits that translate to an impact at all three levels of the field. Combined with his vertical threat trump card, Wallace is an upgrade over WR Torrey Smith in nearly every facet of the game and comes at half the cost. He’s a far cry from his form as a Pittsburgh Steeler, but he’s a reliable veteran that can provide juice as a downfield target and will challenge WR Mack Hollins for playing time.