It’s difficult to believe Dolphins’ All-Pro defensive end Cameron Wake is already 31 years old. It seems like just yesterday Wake burst onto the scene in Miami as a former CFL star turned NFL sack artists.
Cameron Wake owns one of the most peculiar paths to stardom the NFL has ever seen. Watch him play on Sundays and you’ll see an elite talent in every sense of the word. His speed and explosiveness off the edge are second to few if not none. And he plays the game with a motor that simply doesn’t stop running.
How exactly did a player of his caliber go undrafted then get cut before even making it to training camp? How exactly did NFL teams allow him to terrorize CFL quarterbacks for two seasons before pouncing on the chance to sign him?
Well, many general managers around the league are questioning those decisions. If not decisions, then incompetence. And the Dolphins continue to reap the benefits of one of the biggest free-agent steals in recent memory.
The only questions is, at 31 years old, how much does Wake have left in the tank? Wake may be creeping towards the end of his prime. But unlike most players his age, he doesn’t have considerable tread on his tires. His mileage is still relatively low after only four NFL seasons.
31-year old NFL veterans typically have as many as eight seasons under their belt with plenty of wear and tear beginning to fester. Not Wake, who still has a newcomer vibe around the league.
But can he sustain the type of pass-rushing production that earned him first team AP All-Pro honors last season? Let’s play over/under:
Cameron Wake over/under: 14.5 sacks
My take: over
15.0 sacks would tie Cameron Wake’s career high. Anymore would break that mark. At 31-years old, some may scoff at the idea of Wake having his best statistical season and possibly even challenging for NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. But I see Wake peaking in 2013.
Truth be told, his sack totals from his first four seasons as a Dolphin haven’t done the amount of pressure he generates justice. Pro Football Focus graded Wake the top 4-3 defensive end in the entire league in 2012 in large part because of the frequency in which he pressures the quarterback.
Wake’s 15.0 sacks last season were impressive, but he pressured the quarterback 86 times. That means Wake sacked the passer about 17% of the time he provided pressure. I think Wake can improve that percentage in 2013 and produce two or three more sacks than the 15.0 he managed last year.
Having another pass rusher step up to the plate – first-round pick Dion Jordan or Olivier Vernon in his second season – could help subside the double-teams Wake consistently faces as well.
I’m not sure how much longer Wake can maintain his status as one of the league’s top pass rushers. Maybe 2014 is the year he begins to digress. But in 2013, I’m expecting another dominant campaign.
What do you expect from Cameron Wake in 2013?