15 Most Important Dolphins for 2013: #3 Mike Wallace

Whether it be Torrey Smith with Baltimore last season or the New York Giants Victor Cruz the season before, having a receiver that can stretch the field in today's NFL has become essential to competing for a championship. For the Miami Dolphins this offseason, they believe that they have found that receiver in former Pittsburgh Steeler, Mike Wallace.
Mike Wallace looks to be Miami's top receiver. (Photo: NaplesNews)
Wallace is not coming off of a big year for Pittsburgh, but that doesn't make him any less of a burner. In 15 games with the Steelers last season, Wallace finished with 64 receptions for 836 yards and eight touchdowns. Wallace also averaged a career-low 13.1 yards-per-reception.

While his numbers paled in comparison to his 2010 and '11 seasons in which he combined for nearly 2,500 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns, Wallace certainly brings an upgrade to Miami's passing game.

While Wallace's numbers were down with Pittsburgh last season, he still would have finished second on the Dolphins in receiving yardage and yards-per-catch. Wallace would have also led Miami with eight touchdown grabs which was tied for 15th in the NFL.

What Wallace does for Miami is give the Dolphins a player that can stretch the field. Even with Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall spending two years in Miami, opposing secondaries rarely had to worry about allowing big plays and such was the case again last season. When it came to yards-per-attempt, the Dolphins were just 22nd in the entire NFL and when it came to net passing yards-per-game, Miami was even worse at 26th.

Wallace not only gives second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill a guy that can get behind defenses, but he will help open things up for others in the passing game like receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson and tight ends Charles Clay and Dustin Keller.

As have most of the others to make this list have, Wallace has also been durable over his four-year career. Wallace has played in 63 of 64 possible games for the Steelers and has been on good teams including the 2010 Steelers' squad that reached the Super Bowl. Wallace even made his first Pro Bowl in 2011.

Wallace has been a touchdown machine as well and can be a go-to guy for Tannehill in the red zone. Over the last three seasons, Wallace has combined for 26 touchdowns while the Dolphins as a team during that stretch, have just 50 passing touchdowns. Miami was 30th in passing touchdowns last season with 13. Only the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs had fewer.

Barring injury, there is no way to really view the signing of Mike Wallace as anything, but an upgrade for the Dolphins. If he can return to the form of 2011 however, Miami will have one of the league's elite receivers and a load will be taken off of Tannehill.

Big plays have escaped Miami's passing game ever since a guy named Dan Marino was throwing the ball, but Wallace has the chance to be the Dolphins' best stretch-the-field receiver since perhaps Mark Clayton. If Wallace can return to form, the sky is the limit and the Dolphins have a real chance of snapping New England's four-year stranglehold on the AFC East and their own playoff hiatus.

Mike Ferguson is a staff writer at Dolphin Shout and the founder and editor of Outside the Redzone. Like Outside the Redzone on Facebook!