Miami Dolphins legendary defensive end Jason Taylor was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last week, earning his place among the greatest players to ever play on an NFL field. It was a huge accomplishment for Taylor, who became the fifth defensive end to be selected in his first year of eligibility, joining Deacon Jones, Gino Marchetti, Reggie White, and Bruce Smith.
Yet, Taylor does not believe he was even the best pass rusher on any of the teams for which he played. Taylor played the 2009 and 2011 seasons with a former Penn State linebacker who had to go to the Canadian Football League before being signed by the Dolphins starting in 2009. Cameron Wake has averaged 10.2 sacks per season in his eight years in Miami, slightly ahead of Taylor’s 10.1 sacks per season with the Dolphins (9.3 sacks per season for his career).
Could Wake be a Hall of Fame player when he retires?
“I think he’s been trending in that direction,” Taylor said on Thursday. “Hopefully he can play as long as he can and keep being as productive as he’s been. He’s just a remarkable athlete. The things he’s able to do and the way he bounced back from an Achilles injury at his – I hate even saying it but at his age, so to speak. It doesn’t surprise me at all. Having a chance to be around Cam and be a teammate of his, knowing the way he works, knowing the work he was putting in, in the offseason, when this building was empty of players and they’re off and when he’s probably supposed to be on crutches still or in a boot still and he’s pushing it. He’s just that kind of guy. He takes care of himself. He’s super athletic, ridiculously strong. You guys see how … I mean he never wears a shirt so you guys see how he’s built and how he takes care of himself. He can do it for a long time. He’s already trended in this direction, trust me. Cam Wake is a better football player and a better pass rusher than I ever was and hopefully he can keep doing it for a while.”
That is high praise from a Hall of Fame defensive end for the current Dolphins’ star defensive end. Wake is currently 59th all time in sacks, and could move into the 42nd position if he is able to put up another 10 sacks in 2017. Will Wake, who turned 35 last month, be able to keep up his high level of performance over the next few years to erase the four years he missed between finishing his college career at Penn State and joining the Dolphins? Can Wake’s 39 career CFL stats, two all-star selections, the 2007 CFL Outstanding Rookie award, and the 2008 CFL Outstanding Defensive Player award factor into the voters’ decisions when Wake’s name is on the ballot?
Whatever the case, Taylor seems to think Wake is on his way toward Canton.