Vikings' Wallace says he’s NFL’s fastest
By Chris Tomasson St. Paul Pioneer Press EDEN PRAIRIE -- Bring back the "NFL's Fastest Man" competition. That might be the only way to settle this. There's no longer an annual competition to determine the speediest player. If someone wants to sta...
By Chris Tomasson
St. Paul Pioneer Press
EDEN PRAIRIE - Bring back the “NFL’s Fastest Man” competition. That might be the only way to settle this.
There’s no longer an annual competition to determine the speediest player. If someone wants to start it up again, Vikings wide receiver Mike Wallace would be ready to take on all comers.
“Without a doubt, I’m the fastest player in the NFL,” Wallace said. “If somebody feels foggy about that, we can (race). I’m never going to back down from competition.”
The last “NFL’s Fastest Man” race was held in February 2007 at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Wallace entered the NFL in 2009.
Wallace, 28, said his best in the 40-yard dash is 4.21 seconds. That’s better than the top time in February’s NFL scouting combine (4.28 by Alabama-Birmingham wide receiver J.J. Nelson) and the best ever run at the event (4.24 by running back Chris Johnson in 2008).
“I’ve run a lot of routes and I’ve got a lot of miles on my legs, but I still feel that there’s nobody who can run with me,” said Wallace, acquired in March from Miami. “I might have slowed down a little, but I could still run 4.25.”
Opinions have been mixed on whether Wallace has been the NFL’s fastest player. Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson gave props to Wallace while appearing on Dan Patrick’s national radio show in November.
“The fastest receiver I ever went against was Mike Wallace, by far,” Peterson said.
A 2011 survey of NFL players by Sports Illustrated ranked Wallace, then with Pittsburgh, as the league’s third-fastest player. He received 12 percent of the vote to 38 percent for Johnson, who was then with Tennessee and is now a free agent, and 23 percent for wide receiver DeSean Jackson, then with Philadelphia and now with Washington.
Hall of fame wide receiver James Lofton was one of the NFL’s fastest players during a career that went from 1978-93. He wasn’t ready to argue against Wallace being the fastest but did mention some other names.
“Obviously, Mike is extremely fast, and he gets up to top speed quickly,” Lofton said. “He can just seemingly step on the accelerator. … As for the fastest, there’s also the kid from Buffalo, (wide receiver) Marquise Goodwin, and DeSean Jackson. But I wouldn’t bet against (Wallace).”
Lofton calls Minnesota’s acquisition of Wallace “like going to buy a high-performance car.” Then again, Wallace never seemed to reach top speed during his two seasons with Miami.
With the Steelers from 2009-12, Wallace had a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons, averaging 19.0 yards per catch one season and 21.4 in another. In his two seasons with the Dolphins, Wallace caught 140 passes for 1,792 yards for an average of 12.8 with a long gain of 57.
Some have said Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s inability to effectively throw deep hampered Wallace as a weapon. Wallace, though, didn’t point the finger at Tannehill.
“There are a lot of things I could have done better, and there are things some other people could have done better,” Wallace said. “When you separate, you still have to connect. … But I’m not going to blame Tannehill. He’s a great guy, a great worker. I’ll take the blame. It’s my fault. I’ll do better.”
The guy who will be throwing to Wallace in the fall is Teddy Bridgewater, who had issues with the long ball last year as a rookie. But Bridgewater was better throwing deep late in the season, and Minnesota coaches never have expressed concerns about his ability to throw deep.
“The last couple of years I haven’t been able to showcase my separation, but I’m positive that it will happen now,” Wallace said.