Aaron Wallace had a heck of a career in the Madden franchise I run with my brother. After serving as my primary backup linebacker for a number of years he became one of those 80 overall stud athletes that vastly outperforms his ratings. By the time he retired he had a couple different 5-9 sack, 70 tackle years with a couple picks and forced fumbles mixed in.
I’d bet the real Wallace wouldn’t mind an actual career that followed suit after coming into the league as a 2016 7th round pick by the Tennessee Titans. Coming out of UCLA, the rub on Wallace was that he was a twitchy athlete who needed to develop into a linebacker. He offered starting upside, but was painfully raw.
Aaron Wallace Profile
Weight: 242 lbs
Experience: 4th season
Wallace got most of his playing time as a rookie, playing 261 total snaps for Mike Mularkey and then defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau. A little over 100 of his snaps were on defense, and in he finished his rookie year with 1 sack, 10 tackles, and 2 QB hits.
All remain his career highs. In 2017 Wallace hurt his back in September and landed on injured reserve. In 2018 he was waived after Mularkey was replaced by Mike Vrabel.
After wandering in the wilderness between teams, Wallace signed with the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad before John Elway and the Broncos took a chance on him in late December. Since then the Broncos have parted ways with Vance Joseph and brought in Vic Fangio, who runs a very different kind of 3-4 than his predecessor.
- Upfield burst.
It needs to be said that Wallace’s tape is very limited. What I saw, he did look like he’d bring a solid first step off the snap and offer some promise on stunts as the lead man. He showed flashes of a decent swim move and Vrabel did ask him to drop in coverage last season.
A lot of Wallace’s promise comes from the measurables and relatively blank slate he looks like from afar. He ran a 4.59 40 with a 1.58 10-yard split coming out of UCLA, bench pressed 225 lbs 25 times. His 130” broad jump and 36” vertical suggest hint at the kind of explosiveness he could bring to the table.
- Very limited game tape.
- Back injury in 2017.
- Short arms.
It’s hard to say with any certainty what Wallace brings on the field since he has such little experience the last two seasons. At this point he’s more of an older prospect than a true veteran.
As mentioned above, his most career snaps came his rookie year when he played 115 snaps on defense and 146 on special teams. Since then he’s played a grand total of 26 snaps on defense and 62 on special teams.
Coming out of UCLA he was considered raw. A backer who played slower than he timed as he was still adjusting to reading the field on the move after so little experience. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein also remarked that he’d need technical refinement to reach his ceiling.
Wallace is an ascending prospect with the twitch, athleticism and power to become an eventual starter as a 3-4 outside linebacker. However, despite his growth as a player this season, he is still in a developmental phase and may take some seasoning before he is ready to become a contributor on the NFL level.
Aaron Wallace’s roster status with the Broncos
As I mentioned here, Vic Fangio tends to carry four or five edge players on the active roster. Two of those spots are complete locks with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb doing Von & Chubb things. All reports have suggested Dekoda Watson is a lock for the roster because of his special team’s prowess.
That means Wallace is fighting with Jeff Holland, Ahmad Gooden, Malik Reed, and potentially Justin Hollins for one or possibly two spots. At the time of this writing, I’ve heard nothing out of camp about him. I have heard both Holland and Reed have had promising flashes, which doesn’t bode well for Wallace’s chances.
Obviously a lot can change with five preseason games to go, but right now I’d guess Wallace is on the outside looking in.