NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
If you follow me on Twitter, then you should already know my slightly controversial answer.
But 140 characters can be difficult at times to truly convey the reasons for my opinion.
Before I get started, know this: I think Mike Wallace is a tremendous player. Well worth a first round pick to many teams. The speed and electricity he brings to the field can be and is a huge weapon.
That being said, here are my reasons why I believe it is not a good idea for the Patriots to give up their 27th pick for Wallace:
HIS GREATEST VALUE IS THE DEEP THREAT HE BRINGS
Please do not think I am criticizing Tom Brady. He is the best quarterback we have seen since Joe Montana, and there are certainly times where I think he may be the best QB ever.
But the deep ball is not his strong suit.
According to Pro Football Focus, in 2011 Brady was 16th in the league in passing accuracy over twenty yards. That was right between Carson Palmer and Colt McCoy. He attempted 60 passes, 20 for completions including five drops. His deep ball accuracy % was 41.7.
In 2010 he was 11th at 44.4 and in 2009, yes with Randy Moss, and yes coming off ACL surgery, he was 28th at 32.3.
Why does Brady struggle with the deep ball? Because he’s lost some arm strength over the years. He’s going to be 35 in the 2012 season, and arm strength does diminish over a QB’s career. Luckily Brady’s accuracy keeps getting better, so we haven’t seen a drop off in overall talent.
This year alone, we saw Brady under throw deep passes to Matthew Slater, Chad Ochocinco, Tiquan Underwood and Aaron Hernandez. None of those players are as fast as Mike Wallace.
MIKE WALLACE IS NOT RANDY MOSS
But didn’t Tom Brady have success on the deep ball before?
Yes, in 2007 he and Randy Moss were very successful with one another, and even in ‘09 they seemed to have a connection.
But Moss and Wallace are very different deep threats.
Moss has success with physicality, speed and going up to get the ball in the air. Brady could afford to under throw Moss, because of his ability to go up and get the ball with his leaping ability and pushing off of defenders.
Wallace is the kind of player that you throw the ball far out, and let him outrun his defenders with his sudden burst to go and get it. Brady doesn’t have that kind of arm.
Vincent Jackson is more of the deep threat that the Patriots could have used, as he’s more like Moss.
The fact that Brady was under throwing Slater, Ochocinco, etc. is a big problem if Wallace hopes to have the same impact he had in Pittsburgh for the Patriots.
FREE AGENT WIDE RECEIVERS ARE A CRAP SHOOT
Especially in New England.
Here are the wide receivers the Patriots have signed or traded for since 2000: Aaron Bailey, Tony Gaiter, Chris Calloway, Bert Emanuel, Charles Johnson, Sean Morey, David Patten, Torrance Small, Donald Hayes, Dedric Ward, Michael Jennings, Eugene Baker, Rich Musinski, Jake Schifino, David Terrell, Tim Dwight, Andre Davis, Reche Caldwell, Keron Henry, Musinski, Zuriel Smith, John Stone, Doug Gabriel, Kelvin Kight, C.J. Jones, Jabar Gaffney, Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, Kelley Washington, Wes Welker, Sam Aiken, Robert Ortiz, Joey Galloway, Greg Lewis, Isaiah Stanback, Torry Holt, David Patten, Tyree Barnes, Chad Ochocino, Tiquan Underwood.
That’s a pretty motley list. Patten (first time around), Gaffney, Moss and Welker were the only real hits among a slew of misses.
And that’s because the Patriots complex offense is well, complex.
You must be on the same page as Tom Brady, and you must be able to run option routes and see the same things in reading the opposing defense that he sees.
We saw it first hand this season with Ochocinco. By all accounts, Ocho should have worked out. He’s a crisp route runner, great hands, intermediate threat, but he couldn’t learn the offense and he could not read an opposing defense.
I fear the same may hold true with Wallace. I’ve seen him improve his route running while at Pittsburgh, but he wasn’t expected to read a defense and his biggest gain is the deep threat.
If I’m taking a chance on a crap shoot, I’m doing it like the Patriots did with all of the players above. Low risk, and in some cases high reward. Wallace is a high risk, high reward player.
TOO MANY TARGETS TO GO AROUND
The Patriots need a wide receiver. I will definitely agree there, but I’m not sure where Patriots fans got in in their heads that they need a no. 1 target.
Brady’s essentially already got two no. 1 targets in Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, and a player many teams would be happy to have as a no. 2 target in Aaron Hernandez.
So where would a player like Wallace fit in? Yes, he will take the top off the defense, and he will command a CB and safety over the top (if Brady can get the ball to him), but how much is that actually worth?
Wallace will command a first round pick, plus a contract worth up to $10-$12 million a year given the current WR contracts being delved out.
The Patriots will only have so many targets to go around in 2012, so how many targets will Wallace need to get to be worth giving up that much?
SECOND HALF OF 2011: NOT AS EFFECTIVE
This is what almost no one brings up, Wallace slightly struggled in the second half of 2011.
Before you blame the Roethlisberger injury, that happened in December, Wallace’s downfall started against the Pats in October.
After Wallace’s 3 reception 118 yard game against the Cardinals on October 23, he had 36 receptions for 463 yards, 12.9 average yards per catch and three touchdowns over his last nine games. In his first seven games, he had 36 receptions for 730 yards, 20.3 average yards be catch and five touchdowns.
I only even know about this because I had Wallace on my fantasy team, and it greatly screwed me for the second half of the year.
Now, I’m not exactly sure what happened. Maybe Wallace had an injury, maybe defenses figured him out, maybe he was double covered, maybe Ben was finding Brown and Sanders more, but that drop off happened. Is Wallace worth 36 receptions for 730 yards? Sure. Is he worth 36 receptions for 463 yards? Not so much.
So who do I want the Pats to get? Brandon Lloyd is the best case scenario. He knows the McDaniels offense, he’s an intermediate to deep threat and he won’t cost nearly as much. There are character concerns, but if a player like that can survive anywhere, it’s Foxboro.
Beyond Lloyd, I’d love them to grab a WR with experience in a pro style system who’s an experienced route runner in the draft. Players like Marvin Jones, Marvin McNutt and Chris Owusu would be perfect draft targets.
The Patriots don’t draft WRs well because they look for speedy projects like Taylor Price, Brandon Tate and Chad Jackson. It would be wise to compromise some size or speed and grab players who can catch, run a full route tree and come in right away and play.