Getting creative with Mike Wallace
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Mike Wallace will probably never live up to the $60 million contract he signed with the Miami Dolphins last offseason, but the receiver's average draft position (ADP) this year is a different story, even though it's jumped nearly two rounds in the past month.

Since June 4, Wallace's ADP in fantasyfootballcalculator.com mock drafts has gone from 87 to 68.5, likely because the news out of Miami since the spring has been all sunshine and roses.

The cause of the optimism is new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who was the quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles last season.

Mike Sherman, Miami's former OC, was utterly uncreative in his usage of Wallace last season, lining him up as the Dolphins' right-side wideout on 90 percent of the offensive snaps, according to the Miami Herald.

Lazor plans to move Wallace all over the formation to get him the ball, including in the slot and even the backfield on occasion, much like the Eagles did with DeSean Jackson last season.

During spring practices in late April, Wallace gave Lazor's offense his stamp of approval. "My style; big-play offense," Wallace said.

Wallace had a career-high 73 catches in 2013 but averaged 12.7 yards per reception and caught five touchdowns, both career lows.

Lazor will be looking for Wallace to return to his 2010-11 level of production. During those years, Wallace averaged 66 catches, 1,225 receiving yards (18.6 ypc) and nine touchdowns per season with the Pittsburgh Steelers even though he saw just 106.5 targets per year in that stretch.

Last season, Wallace drew 142 targets and he may really explode if Lazor continues to feed him like that and also can increase his catch rate and yards per catch.

Of course, a large improvement will have to come from quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who never developed deep-ball chemistry with Wallace.

According to Pro Football Focus, Tannehill completed just six of the 36 passes he threw to Wallace that traveled at least 20 yards in the air. DeSean Jackson caught 16 of 33 for Philadelphia.

In 2010-11, Wallace caught 23 passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air.

It didn't help that Tannehill was sacked 58 times, 10 more than any other quarterback, in 2013. The additions of LT Branden Albert in free agency and RT Ja'Wuan James in the first round of the NFL Draft should give Tannehill a cleaner pocket and more time to perfect his timing with Wallace.

In January, Wallace offered up his projection of his production had he and Tannehill been able to connect on more deep passes.

"I should have had 15 or 20 more touchdowns," he said. "And that's being modest. If you press me, you have no shot to cover me. Once I get you to stop your feet, it's over."

Just two players in NFL history have caught at least 20 touchdowns in a season, so it says something about Wallace's confidence that he considers 20-25 touchdowns to be a modest projection.

My modest projection for Wallace in 2014: 77 receptions, 1,180 yards, eight touchdowns.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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