The Miami Dolphins have been able to intimidate opposing quarterbacks for the last eight seasons due in large part to the presence of defensive end Cameron Wake. Now at age 35, Wake is still raising eyebrows with his pass-rushing acumen.
Robert Mays of The Ringer recently highlighted the NFL's premier sack artists and the tools that they use to get to the quarterback. Wake's explosive first step was recognized as one of the deadliest in the league.
Mays explains Wake's speed rush—and its dominance—with the following description:
Entering his age-35 season, Wake still has arguably the fastest first step of any pass rusher in football, and it starts with the way he lines up. Wake’s four-point stance looks like a sprinter getting ready to come off the block. His body is coiled as tight as it can be, with his hands and feet staying as close together as possible. “It’s just pure, logical thinking,” Wake says. “If you put your feet farther back and your hands spread, your first step is not going to be beyond the line of scrimmage.”
Since joining the Dolphins prior to the 2009 season, Wake has recorded 81.5 sacks. Before coming to the NFL, the former Penn State defender perfected his craft in the CFL.
Mays spoke to Wake about how the CFL shaped his ability to get to the quarterback:
The CFL features an extended neutral zone that’s a full yard longer than it is in the American game. Most of Wake’s work in Canada revolved around cutting down that distance as his first, second, and third priority. “When I got down here to the NFL, and I got to crowd back up to the ball, I got to use that to my advantage,” Wake says.
Wake will enter his ninth season on the heels of a 2016 season that saw him record 11.5 sacks, which is tied for his third-highest output of his career. His effectiveness against the run might be diminishing, but it is clear that he is still a headache for opposing tackles that are hoping to keep their quarterback upright.
You can read Mays' full breakdown of the NFL's best pass rushers by visiting The Ringer.