Steelers Today - A Pittsburgh Steelers blog


Pick #84: Steelers select Mike Wallace

April 26, 2009 By: Admin Category: Draft/Free Agency

April 26, 2009
By Donald Starver

With their second pick in the 3rd round, the Steelers selected Mike Wallace.  Wallace is a 6’0, 180 pound wide receiver out of Mississippi.


This pick came as a surprise.  Few (if any) scouting reports had Wallace rated this high.  Most had him listed as being between the 25th - 34th best wide receiver in the draft.

When you talk about Mike Wallace, the first word that comes to mind is speed.  Wallace is one of the fastest players available in the draft.  He ran a 4.3 in the 40 yard dash.  Former Tampa Bay coach John Gruden said that they timed him at a blazing 4.28 seconds.  The kid is fast.  Super fast.  He is much faster than Nate Washington, Santonio Holmes, or Limas Sweed.  He is immediately the fastest receiver on the Steelers, and will challenge Willie Parker for team honors.

Wallace is capable of impacting the game in a number of ways.  He was one of the most dangerous kick returners in the country last year, and the Steelers will be able to utilize this aspect of his game immediately.  He averaged 23.2 yards per kickoff return, and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

Wallace’s speed was also apparent at the wide receiver position, where he led the SEC in yards/catch for two consecutive seasons.  He averaged 18.8 yards/catch during his junior year, and improved it to 20.1 yards/catch last year.

Despite his blazing speed, Wallace is more of a track star than a football player.  His hands are suspect, and he is very thinly built.  He has mostly straight line speed, and is not particularly good at changing directions.

Wallace catches the ball with his body, and is going to have to learn to extend his arms and catch with his hands.  More importantly, Wallace is going to have to eliminate drops.  His speed will get him separation, but he has to hold onto the ball.  Moreover, he won’t be able to rely on pure speed at the next level.  Wallace will have to run crisper routes to elude savvy NFL defenders.

Wallace will also have to become more physical.  He is easily jammed at the line, and shows little desire to fight through it.  He also is not a willing blocker. However, spending time with Hines Ward will surely change this.

“He’s a burner”, said Steelers’ offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.  “He hasn’t gone over the middle a lot, but he’s an outside speed guy who’s an excellent return guy.  We really, really like him”.

Wallace will have an immediate impact in the Steelers return game.  However, his impact on the passing game may not be felt until year 2 or 3.  He must develop better hands and better route running skills.  But he has speed to burn, and that can’t be taught.

To read about the Steelers’ previous pick, click here.

To read about the Steelers’ next pick, click here.

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8 Comments to “Pick #84: Steelers select Mike Wallace”

  1. I don’t think it was that much of a reach. Most of the online stuff right before the draft had him ranked in the teens as a 3-4th rounder and Pitt ended up taking him in the 3rd as the the 11th WR. The big question I would have is why him and not Mike Thomas? Thomas is just as fast and has better hands. Yes, he’s short but so are Steve Smith and Santana Moss.

  2. Mark Franks says:

    I’ve been watching Mike Wallace here at Ole Miss for several years, and believe me, he is tougher and a better receiver than you think. How anyone can say he doesn’t have good hands is beyond me. This young man led the SEC (best conference in America by any standard) two years in receiving. He is faster than anyone chasing him, and he has not been prone to injury. Pittsburgh got a great value in Wallace. Just wait until you see him run!

  3. Mark,
    I agree with you. I think the hands are not going to prove to be a problem.

    I just hope that he doesn’t suffer from the same disease that afflicts Limas Sweed. He has the speed to get wide open. I just hope that he’s not so wide open that he drops the ball. ;-)

  4. booyakasha says:

    Ole Miss fan here: I’m telling yall, Wallace is a great player. Not only is he a great athlete, but he’s a solid character as well. Is there really any point in commenting on Steelers draft picks???? They are without a doubt the best franchise when it comes to drafting. This club knows what it is doing.

  5. I might be a little late with this comment but it looks like he as good upside. At 6’0 feet if he works on running his routes and if Ben learns the throw the ball as hard as he can I think we will see a baby moss in Pittsburgh. However util Mike, or Limas stands up for the 3rd string wr position. I think Limas as the potential to be a baby Plaxico.

  6. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Wallace all season. He’s consistently been in the right place at the right time to help the Steelers somewhat struggling Offense.

  7. Will,
    Wallace is a player. There is no doubt about that. He is going to be the Steelers’ rookie of the year.

  8. I just stumbled across this article and find it hard to believe how scouts didn’t have Wallace ranked as “high” as a 3rd round pick. Hindsight being 20-20, I wonder where they’d have him ranked now? He deserved to be the #1 overall WR in the 2009 draft class if you ask me…glad the Steelers saw something in him the other teams didn’t.


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