Miami Dolphins' Cameron Wake's unlikely journey to NFL stardom

The NFL's most prolific pass-rusher is not Von Miller or J.J. Watt. No, it is a one-time mortgage broker who spent time in the Canadian Football League.

Cameron Wake has not wasted his second crack at NFL stardom, since being snared from the British Columbia Lions.

In less than four seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Wake has collected 37.5 sacks. He has twice finished as the team's sack leader and is on course to do the same again.

Pro Football Focus reveals Wake as the biggest terror to quarterbacks in the NFL. He has the most sacks, hits and pressures combined.

That's quite an achievement for a player who began his pro career failing to get through a training camp. Wake was an undrafted free agent in 2005, given a chance by the New York Giants.

He didn't sufficiently impress Big Blue, who promptly released him. His football career looked over before it had even begun.

Wake then spent part of 2006 as a mortgage broker, which probably did little to make him forget about football. His career was salvaged by an unlikely call from the CFL.

Wake joined the B.C. Lions in 2007 and was soon dominating. It was nearly two years later, that fortune began to favour Ware's NFL ambitions.

He came to the attention of of then-Dolphins' vice president of Football operations Bill Parcells. The legendary head coach could always spot players who would flourish in his beloved 3-4 defensive scheme.

He immediately tabbed Ware as an ideal pass-rush ace from both a two and three-point stance. So it proved, as Wake quickly showed that he could transfer his dominance in Canada to the NFL.

His first season, while promising, was relatively quiet statistically. He notched a mere 5.5 sacks.

In 2010 he vindicated Parcells' reputation as a football genius. Ware recorded 14 sacks and became the one truly feared playmaker on Miami's defense.

8.5 more sacks followed last season, before a switch to 4-3 defensive end for this campaign. The transition has not slowed Ware down.

He currently has 9.5 sacks to his credit and is dominating every offensive line he faces. He collected his latest sack in Thursday night's narrow defeat to the Buffalo Bills.

Similar to five-time Super Bowl winning ex-star, Charles Haley, Ware is proving just as prolific in either defensive system.

What stands out about Wake's pass-rushing prowess is his awesome initial strength. He powers into would-be blockers and starts collapsing the edges of the pass-pocket as soon as the ball is snapped.

Also, like any master pass-rusher, Wake uses his hands in an intelligent way to outwit offensive linemen.

At 30, Wake's NFL journey probably won't last long. But he will continue to dominate while it does.

image: © Free-ers