Virginia Tech Junior
Has excellent speed and acceleration to hit the homerun. Once he gets to the second level, has the ability to take it to the house. Does a good job beating defenders to the edge. Shows quickness and balance to bounce plays outside due to his speed and burst. Shows some wiggle on the second level, able to juke the defender in the hole. Does a good job getting north and south and consistently runs behind his pads, doing a good job squaring his shoulders. Runs hard for his size, and shows good power to break arm tackles on the edge. Will lower the pads and helmet and run over a defensive back in the open field. Doesn't shy from contact and does a good job fighting for extra yards and keeping his feet moving after contact. Runs with good balance and is able to step out of tackles and maintain his balance when defenders try to trip him up. Flashes good footwork to toe the sideline, and also shows ability to make the lateral cuts to make defenders miss. Will hurdle defenders and maintain his balance when he spins out of tackles too. Is patient and will follow his lead blocker. Can make a penetrating defender miss in the backfield, and at times will make something out of nothing because of his speed. Can locate cut back lanes and sneaks through creases. Is a reliable outlet receiver in the flat, able to adjust to high or errant throw. His speed and burst allow him to quickly bounce plays after the catch for big gains. Willing to square up a defender on the edge in pass protection. Works as a kickoff returner and due to his hard-running style, acceleration, and speed he can be dangerous there once he finds a seam.
Ball security has been a major issue in past. His willingness to leave his feet can get him into trouble at times there. Doesn't consistently secure the ball against his body when he gets into space, and defenders have been known to strip him. His willingness to fight for extra yards also gets him into trouble, as rallying defenders will strip the ball out of his arms. Doesn't consistently show good footwork, stopping his feet to change direction and tendency to be a very straight-line runner. His desire to break the big gain gets him into trouble a lot as he'll reverse field and lose big chunks of yards in critical situations. Can be too patient at times on the sweep, waiting for the play to develop rather than taking what the defense gives him. Other times, his speed gets him into trouble as he'll outrun his blockers, such as the pulling guard. Has a tendency to dance and try too often to bounce plays outside. Whiffs on some pass protection assignments, and needs to be more physical there. Doesn't bring his physical nature as a runner to that aspect of his game.
For two years, Wilson sat behind guys like Ryan Williams and Darren Evans, working mainly as a change of pace runner and kickoff returner. But as a junior, where he became the main guy he really shined as one of the nation's top backs. Wilson is an explosive running back that can add a ton of value as a change of pace runner. But if he continues to develop, he does have the potential down the road to be a feature back for some team. He isn't the biggest guy, but is very strong despite his more diminutive stature. This makes him a lot more physical and powerful runner than he would look at first glance. The two main issues with Wilson, which could prevent him from reaching his potential are his ball security and discipline. Both are issues of trust, whether NFL coaches will be able to trust him to hang onto the ball, as well as get the yards that are on the field, rather than constantly looking for the big homerun play. He was a top-notch triple jumper while at Virginia Tech, finishing 6th in the NCAA Outdoor Championships as a sophomore. He plays faster than he clocked at the Combine, recording a 4.29 40 as a freshman at Tech.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(10/1) vs. Clemson: 19 att., 121 yds, 6.4 avg, 67 YAC, 0 TDs; 2 targets, 2 rec., 21 yds, 27 YAC, 0 TDs; 1 fumble
(11/10) at Georgia Tech: 22 att., 146 yds, 6.6 avg, 106 YAC, 0 TDs; 1 tgt., 0 rec; 2 fumbles; 1 drop
(11/17) vs. North Carolina: 21 att., 82 yds, 3.9 avg, 29 YAC, 0 TDs; 2 tgt., 1 rec., 8 yds, 5 YAC, 0 TDs; 1 fumble, 1 QB Hit
(11/26) at Virginia: 24 att., 153 yds, 6.4 avg, 31 YAC, 2 TDs; 1 tgt., 1 rec., 5 yds, 12 YAC, 0 TDs
(1/3) vs. Michigan: 25 att., 85 yds, 3.4 avg, 46 YAC, 0 TDs; 1 tgt., 1 rec., 3 yds, 6 YAC, 0 TDs
2011: 14 GP/14 GS, 290 att., 1709 yds, 5.9 avg, 9 TDs; 22 rec., 129 yds, 5.9 avg, 1 TD; 22 KOR, 18.9 avg, 0 TDs
2010: 13/1-113-619-5.5-5; 15-234-15.6-4; 22-26.5-2
2009: 13/0-59-334-5.7-4; 0-0-0.0-0; 17-19.1-0
There is a lot to like about Wilson. He's not quite there yet, but he does have potential. Part of his game reminds me a bit of LeSean McCoy. THey have very similar frames. McCoy was also a strong back for his size, but his lateral agility is much better than Wilson's, although from time to time Wilson will show it. McCoy coming out of PItt a few years ago was also an undisciplined guy that danced and looked too much for the big play rather than taking what is given to him. And McCoy has become a more disciplined runner in the pros and polished up his game a bit. He's still not Mr. Discipline, but his burst, quickness, and agility makes him one of the more explosive backs in the league which more than makes up for the few headaches he can still cause. Wilson has that sort of potential. Again, he doesn't have that slashing/juking running style of McCoy, as Wilson is more of a north-south runner. But the tools are there to continue developing that at the next level, if he can improve his footwork. As mentioned before, Wilson's biggest obstacle is going to be his ball security. I believe his discipline won't be a huge issue because I think NFL coaches won't have any issue fixing that. Unlike his coaches at Tech, in the NFL he'll just be benched. Tech couldn't afford to bench him because he was the best player on their team. When he gets to the NFL, that won't be the case. I think he might get off to a slow start in the NFL, because his game isn't completely polished. But so did McCoy and Ray Rice. I think he can be a capable NO. 2 as a rookie, but by the time he has 2 or 3 years into the league, he has the potential like those two to develop into a feature back. He's not a very good pass protector at this point, but he can improve there. If he plays behind a line that likes to zone block, he has good potential because he has that acceleration and burst to be a dangerous one-cut runner. He can run between the tackles, but he's best outside the tackles because of his speed. And therefore, I think he'll be an ideal change of pace runner. He's not a guy that is going to be workhorse, but can potentially be a guy that you can feel comfortable giving 18-20 touches when you count receptions as a No. 1 tailback in the NFL. At worst, he'll be a good No. 2 running back that can also help you out on kickoff returns. If he shows no improvement whatsoever from this point going forward, then the worst he'll be is a Felix Jones-type of guy that can be an explosive complementary runner. But I have little doubts that he won't improve at the next level because of the improvement he showed through his career at Tech. It's a pretty good bet that by the time his rookie contract is expiring, he has the potential to be a Top 10 running back. He's the type of running back that are becoming ever more en vogue in the NFL because you don't need the 20-25 carry workhorse. If he can continue to make strides in the passing game, he'll be even more valuable.
LeSean McCoy, Eagles.
Wilson could do a lot of damage in Atlanta because playing on turf will highlight his greatest weapon: speed. He can immediately come in as a rookie, and get some reps as a change of pace runner, and be productive with his homerun hitting abilities similar to how Byron Hanspard and Jerious Norwood were early in their Falcon careers. But unlike those two, Wilson has much higher upside. And by his second year, he and Rodgers should be a capable pair to take over for Turner. They can potentially split carries. Since Rodgers is an already adept option on third downs, Wilson can potentially start to take over more of the first and second down roles. He won't be the physical workhorse that Mike Smith traditionally prefers, but can still be productive because of his ability to break big gains almost any time he touches it. In a committee system with Rodgers, and probably a more physical guy that can be the short-yardage and fourth quarter finisher, he can be a very productive lead back roughly 3 years from now.
Wilson has first round talent similar to McCoy, but his lack of discipline, erratic ball security, and the fact that his length to impact may take a year or two makes him a better value in the early part of the second round. But if a team in the last 5-10 picks in Round 1 is looking for an explosive change of pace runner, then he would not be a reach because he definitely has the upside to be one of the top backs in the league 3+ years from now.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.