Friday, July 24, 2009

Reader Question: Cameron Wake, Tony McDaniel

Today, I'd like to take the time to answer a reader's questions regarding two of the defense's more unknown players - Cameron Wake and Tony McDaniel.

Here's the questions:
Do you think that the success that Cameron Wake had in the CFL will follow him to the Dolphins. Can Tony McDaniel be an effective back-up at DT? Would he be able to play a different position other than DT? He has the weight (310) to play the DT position, however at 6'7" isn't he a bit tall to be effective?
Good questions.

Let's start with Cameron Wake. Way back in the beginning of February, I made my first annual list of Miami's Top 5 Prospects. I placed Wake at #2. Here's what I wrote about him at the time:

Signing Wake from the CFL was akin to a baseball team signing a dominant player from one of the Dominican or Japanese leagues. The talent level he faced up there obviously doesn't compare to what he'll see in the NFL, but dominance is dominance, and I'm interested in any young player who has already achieved that kind of production on a professional level. He may not be any good against the run, but he's a top prospect because of his singular ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.

With Miami, he will have to transition to outside linebacker, but his role will be almost entirely to rush the QB. Charlie Anderson was pretty bad this year, and it's hard to believe Wake can't at least match what he did on the field. He has a lot to prove if he wants to start in the future, but he has the potential to be this team's next David Bowens, which isn't too shabby.

Nothing has changed since then to alter my opinion of Wake's prospects, other than the signing of Jason Taylor which will push him further down the depth chart.

Is Wake going to step right in and deliver double digit sacks like he was doing in Canada? Nope. But people shouldn't expect him to. He's likely going to be one of the bottom linebackers on the depth chart this season, so his playing time may be sporadic. He has a lot to learn, especially when it comes to stopping the run, before he is granted any role larger than what Charlie Anderson held last year. But like I said, I'd much rather have Wake taking those limited snaps this year and improving his game so that he can hopefully have a bigger role next year.

As for McDaniel, he's somewhat of an unknown. He's supposedly a talented young player who can never avoid injuries. His size makes him ideal for a DE in Parcells' and Ireland's 3-4 scheme. The coaching staff is probably going to try him at all the spots along the defensive line in order to test his positional flexibility. Apparently he is willing to play some defensive tackle and nose tackle, and if so, he'd make for a nice Randy Starks-type utility depth player.

His height is definitely rare for a DT, since getting underneath the offensive lineman's pads is so critical to succeeding, but it can certainly work provided the player has excellent technique. We've seen that with Jay Ratliff in Dallas. Whether or not McDaniel can follow in those footsteps remains to be seen.

Just as a programming note, I expect to start thoroughly breaking down every unit on this roster, player by player, by the time training camp gets underway. That's the best way to learn more about the team and to get ready for the season ahead, so check back for those posts.

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