Dolphins need more well-rounded performance from OLB Wake

Posted April 22, 2010 @ 5:18 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

There is a big hole at outside linebacker for the Dolphins following the offseason departures of Joey Porter, now a Cardinal after being released in March, and Jason Taylor, who signed with the division-rival Jets on April 21 and alleged Miami did not make him a contract offer and decided it wouldn't get serious about negotiating with him until after the draft.

With those two out of the picture, the development of OLB Cameron Wake, which was already a major focus for the team before the aging veterans left town, becomes an even more significant story line in 2010. Porter and Taylor accounted for 36.4 percent of the Dolphins' sacks last season. Porter contributed nine, Taylor made seven and Wake was next in line amongst sacks by linebackers with 5½.

Wake, a former Canadian Football League star who signed with Miami in January ’09, has the potential to become an elite pass rusher. He has a quick first step, is relentless in pursuit and plays with power. Yet, his game is limited and the Dolphins allowed him to play to his strengths in a pass-rush specialist role last season. Miami is going to need him to be on the field more, and in turn, play in situations where he'll have to defend the run and drop back into pass coverage — two things he did not do well in '09.

When asked at this year's NFL Scouting Combine how close Wake was to becoming an every-down linebacker, Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland sounded cautiously optimistic.

"Cameron is getting ready, I can't tell you if he's 100 percent ready," he said. "It's a process for him. … He came a long ways last year. He's, obviously, closer now to becoming a full-time player, but his dominant traits right now are rushing the passer. We've got to get him more focused on playing the run. But he's getting there. We're very pleased with his development."

The Dolphins bolstered their LB corps by signing former Cardinal Karlos Dansby in March, but the team has said he will play inside. The depth at outside 'backer diminished this offseason and it could be a major weakness for Miami, even if Wake does show improvement in certain areas. With a shortage of proven pass-rush threats at the position, Wake might be facing a healthy diet of double-teams, which could hinder his production.

 

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