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Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Is Mike Wallace a top 10 receiver?

By James Walker

ESPN.com's NFL team is doing something innovative this offseason. For the first time, we are compiling positional Power Rankings, similar to how we rank teams on an annual basis.

Mike Wallace
Steelers receiver Mike Wallace finished with 60 receptions for 1,257 yards last season.
Readers will get our take on the best of the best at each position, which is sure to fuel debate. Our first installment Tuesday involved ranking the top 10 receivers in the NFL.

The AFC North was the only division that did not get a single player on this list. That brings us to this question: Is Mike Wallace a top 10 receiver?

Wallace, who caught 60 passes for 1,257 yards in 2010, finished No. 12 in the voting. I did not vote for him in the top 10.

As I explained in the Power Rankings piece, Wallace has just one year as a starter and still has to improve in certain areas before he's considered an elite receiver. His route-running on short and intermediate passes is getting better, but it's nowhere near some of the best at his position.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin use to label Wallace a "one-trick pony," and after this season Tomlin said at the Super Bowl that Wallace now has "one and a half tricks." I think that's an accurate assessment from Pittsburgh's coach of where Wallace stands right now.

All of the receivers in the top 10 -- led by Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans, Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals and Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions -- are more polished than Wallace. But once Wallace adds more routine plays to his deep speed, which could happen as early as this upcoming season, he could be among the NFL's top receivers.