Mike Wallace and the NFL’s Top Wide Receivers

ESPN.com is spending the offseason compiling player power rankings and on Tuesday the top wide receivers were examined. Topping the list is Houston’s Andre Johnson (no argument on this end), followed closely by Larry Fitzgerald and Roddy White. No Steelers receiver made the top-10, but Mike Wallace did come in at No. 12, just behind New England’s Wes Welker and just ahead of New York’s Santonio Holmes.

He received just three top-10 votes.

Here’s what James Walker, the AFC North Blogger for ESPN, had to say regarding Wallace

Wallace has just one year as a starter and still has to improve in certain areas before he’s considered an elite receiver. His route-running on short and intermediate passes is getting better, but it’s nowhere near some of the best at his position.

Nothing we haven’t heard or read before, so it is what it is. Still, even for all of Wallace’s perceived flaws (like being, in Mike Tomlin’s motivational words, a one-trick pony), he has been by just about any objective measure one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL over his first two seasons, especially when it comes to making big plays.

He has finished in the top-two in Yards Per Catch his first two years and has been in the top-four in Football Outsiders DVOA (value per play — we reference it a lot, and in case you’re not familiar, you can read all about it right here) in his first two years, including a league-best 48.9 percent mark in 2010. The gap between Wallace and the No. 2 receiver in that area, Colts receiver Austin Colie, was as large as the gap between Collie and the No. 27 receiver, Marques Colston. Insanity. DVOA certainly isn’t perfect and it’s not an end-all, be-all, but it does help paint a nice picture.

Wallace can certainly get better and become a more “well-rounded receiver”, and that has to be a scary thought for the rest of the AFC. As the 2010 season progressed he started to become more of a factor on the short and intermediate routes, turning 10-yard passes into 40-and 50-yard gains.

The one name on the list that bothers me the most is Denver’s Brandon Lloyd. If Wallace gets punished in part for only being a one-year starter, Lloyd should get punished for being complete garbage for most of the first eight years of his career. A free-agent failure in Washington, Lloyd caught on in Denver in 2010 in an offense with no running game that was constantly playing from behind, a great recipe for huge catch and yardage totals. He received five top-10 votes, including a pair in the top-five. One voter put him in at No. 2 behind only Roddy White, which seems a bit odd. For me, I’d like to see that 2010 wasn’t a fluke (it’s certainly looking like the outlier of his career at this point) before I put him among the NFL’s elite.

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  • Cols714

    I saw this article today and couldn’t believe that they left off Wallace. Yet, Welker and Lloyd got more votes than him. What a terrible ranking. Of those players the only ones I would take over Wallace are Johnson and Fitzgerald. And with Fitzgerald it’s close.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    I guess Wallace is unproven, so his rank goes down. But Lloyd is proven to typically suck, so his rank goes up.

    For his price, production, age, potential and attitude, there isn’t a WR I’d want over Wallace.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    I guess Wallace is unproven, so his rank goes down. But Lloyd is proven to typically suck, so his rank goes up.

    For his price, production, age, potential and attitude, there isn’t a WR I’d want over Wallace.

  • Anonymous

    It’s odd. When I read the article I found myself examining how well the judges did with DVOA as a baseline rather than using the judgments as a yardstick for the players. I guess I just trust DVOA that much more. The question is also ambiguous. Does “top 10 receivers in the NFL today” mean a) the receiver who just had the best season? b) the currently playing receiver whose career has been the best, c) the currently playing receiver who is currently the most talented, or d) the player you expect to have the best rest-of-career.

    a is hands down Wallace, and it’s not even close.
    b is very clearly not sophmore Wallace. Reggie White probably, IMHO.
    c Wallace should be a top contender here too, but I’d lean toward Fitzgerald being the top. Johnson is very good too.
    d Since I seem to think that the most talented current receivers are all among the younger ones, I guess I have to go with the same group as c.