The Dolphins just might have a new Disney tale to tell to follow up last year's Cinderella season. The Beauty and the Beast might be rolling into town in 2009.
Jason Taylor, the Miami Dolphins' resident heart throb and authority on the art of sacking opposing quarterbacks, has been giving much praise to teammate (and hopefully eventual successor) Cameron Wake in recent weeks.
“He’s quick, he’s fast, he’s sudden. He’s a strong guy, so you know the explosiveness is going to be there. It’s just a matter of learning this game and the nuances,” Taylor said.
If there is one thing that Taylor knows (other than the cha-cha), its what it takes to be a successful pass rusher in the NFL. In his opinion, former CFL standout Wake has that ability in spades.
“If anybody looked at me as a 22-year-old kid coming out of Akron and looked at Cameron with where he is right now, they’d say he has a better chance to make it than I did,” Taylor reflected.
Given Wake's current age of 27, it makes sense that he would be ahead of a 22-year-old skinny rookie out of a small school. He is more physically prepared for the rigors of an NFL season given his training and experience running down the fleet-footed signal callers of the NFL's younger, cooler, yet noticeably weaker little brother: the CFL.
At 6'3", and with the physical build that would make a Yeti feel meek in comparison, Wake took the Great White North by storm–amassing an incomparable 39 sacks during his two years with the British Columbia Lions.
He won various honors and awards and became the first player in CFL history to win Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season.
But that was the CFL, Wake has already failed to latch onto an NFL gig once before, being cut by the New York Giants during his rookie season.
Can the skills he honed and displayed north of the border translate to the quicker and more brutal version of the game down south?
There is some reason for optimism. Warren Moon, Jeff Garcia, Joe Theismann, and Doug Flutie are just a few of the former CFL standouts to make a name for themselves in the NFL. Of course, they tend to share something that Wake does not. A position on the offensive side of the ball.
Miami fans can even look to their own players for an example of CFL to NFL success. Ricky Williams had a largely forgettable season with the Toronto Argonauts following one of his many NFL suspensions, but came back strong for the Miami Dolphins a season after his Canadian exile.
The CFL is more well known for its wide open offenses than bone crushing defenses, which makes Wake's success and monstrous statistics all the more impressive.
Bill Parcells and GM Jeff Ireland certainly saw enough potential in Wake to give him a contract with the Dolphins. Given their extensive track record of success when it comes to finding and developing pass rushers, I would say that is a glowing endorsement of his potential in the NFL.
However, Ireland and Parcells instituted a backup plan in order to ensure that their investment was in good hands, picking up a giant acorn of pash-rush wisdom in Taylor to provide additional firepower to the defense, and to serve as a mentor to the young guns.
If Taylor can impart even a fraction of the pass-rushing knowledge he has acquired over the years onto Wake, I believe that he can use his abundant physical gifts to finally become the beast in the NFL that he always dreamed he would be.
For Miami Dolphins fans, that would be a thing of beauty.
[Click on the link below to see a great video feature on Cameron Wake]