40: 4.60 (estimated)
Strong and athletic. Moves well in space and hard to beat to the corner. Plays with good range to potentially make plays all over the field. Has a smooth backpedal and pretty good hips to match up in man coverage against the tight end. Has good closing burst, particularly in a short area to make the stop in space. Uses his strength well as a pass rusher, able to go up against offensive linemen and stand them up. Can line up with his hand in the dirt and has good upfield burst off the edge. Does a nice job blitzing up the middle, and can shoot gaps, break down, and make the stop in the backfield. Wraps up well at the point of attack. Not afraid to take on the lineman or lead blocker in the hole, and can shed and win that matchup to make stop. Shows some ability to read the screen, and shoot upfield to break up the pass. Has a bit of an edge to him, and will play beyond the whistle at times.
Not super instinctual or plays with great awareness. Can get caught out of position downfield and in space. Not reliable at times, and will miss stops in the open field. Has difficulty locating the ball at times. Needs to get better depth on his drops in coverage. Doesn't always show great long speed, particularly when trying to cover receivers over the middle. Can't always beat the running back to the corner in order to make the stop because he doesn't get a great read off the snap.
Wilson is an athletic and physical specimen that can be a Karlos Dansby-type playmaker in the middle, but doesn't show the ideal awareness and instincts to reliably make plays as a pass rusher and in space. He plays MLB in Illinois hybrid 3-4/4-3 alignment making him an ideal fit as an ILB in a 3-4. But because of his athletic tools, he probably wouldn't be miscast at any position whether in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. Had his best season as a junior with 112 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, 1 pick, and 4 pass breakups. Bounced back from a 2009 campaign where he missed all but the opener due to a herniated disc, after having 9 tackles in that game. As a sophomore, he was also the starting SAM with 73 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 3 breakups.
Wilson looks like a Dansby clone due to his size, strength, speed, and athleticism. And like Dansby, probably will fit best as an ILB in a 3-4 scheme. But as I said earlier, he is such a gifted athlete that he can find a role in practically any scheme. His ability as a pass rusher makes him a nice OLB prospect, but he's probably not every going to be a dynamic pass rusher, but could be a guy that can be a nice complementary guy with 4-6 sacks per year. In the 4-3, he has the size, speed, and range to be a very good MLB, but I'm not sure he's all there instinctually to really love him there. He can definitely make plays, but he might be caught out of position quite a bit. So probably for any 4-3 teams looking at him, the smartest thing is to start him at OLB and then move him inside down the road as he develops more experience to be handle his lack of natural pure instincts. He fits best as a SAM linebacker because of his size and ability to make plays near the line of scrimmage, but wouldn't be completely miscast as a WILL linebacker. 4-3 teams like Buffalo, Baltimore, or Seattle that employ more of a hybrid scheme is where he would probably fit best in. His potential is higher in a 3-4 scheme however and he can be a dynamic weapon there. I think it might take some adjustment to the pro game. Dansby came into the league with a similar knock of not being super instinctual, but still managed to make plays early on, but didn't really blossom into the player we know today until his fourth season when Arizona adopted a 3-4 look. But he was still a good player playing outside in their 4-3 alignment in his early days, just not a great player. I think he has perennial Pro Bowl potential however, and if he plays beside a good MLB in a 3-4 scheme that can help him learn the ropes and cover up for his mistakes early on, he'll be able to impact even quicker.
Wilson has the speed, range, and athleticism to make plays in space, as well as be able to cover guys. He would replace Lofton as the team's second nickel linebacker to team with Weatherspoon, and would offer a lot more upgrade potential there down the road to give the Falcons two fast, physical linebackers that can cover a lot of space. His ability to play MLB means that the Falcons can utilize Lofton more as a two-down defender, and long-term Wilson has the potential to overtake Lofton as the centerpiece of the defense. But with all three linebackers on the field, Wilson gives them versatility. He can get upfield, stuff the run, blitz and rush the quarterback, and drop back into coverage. He would immediately be the starter at SAM linebacker, moving Weatherspoon to the WILL spot. As a rookie, he probably wouldn't have the whole book thrown at him, and probably be used more in spot duty like Peterson was this past year. In terms of his potential in the Falcons 4-3 scheme, he could be reminiscent of a young Julian Peterson. At worst, you'll have a LaVar Arrington, that is a top-level playmaker, but may be prone to mistakes every now and then.
Wilson's potential in the 3-4 makes him a Top 15 pick for a team looking for a Dansby-like inside linebacker. For a 4-3 team, he's probably more in line with a mid-to-late first.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Point of Attack: 4.0
Pass Rush: 3.5
Scouting reports of the linebackers in the 2011 Draft.
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