In March 2012, Wilson’s father, Robert, died from heart failure.
“I don’t want to get too emotional,” Wilson said following his interview session at the Scouting Combine on Friday, “but he’d be proud.”
Wilson is a versatile defender who played in a 3-4 scheme at Georgia. He had a formal interview at the Scouting Combine with the Green Bay Packers, who have to add at least one inside linebacker in this draft class after jettisoning A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones in the past week. A third inside linebacker, Jamari Lattimore, is a free agent who is not expected to be in the mix in 2015.
As a junior, Wilson led the SEC with 133 tackles, including four sacks and 11 for losses. As a senior, he tallied 110 tackles, with two sacks and seven TFLs.
“The Bulldog can play any position in the linebacker unit, but he shows very good lateral quickness and initial burst to string plays wide from the ‘Mike’ slot,” reads a portion of his official NFL scouting report, made available to Packer Report by head NFL scout Dave-Te’ Thomas.
“He takes solid angles in pursuit and does a good job of sifting through traffic. He’s powerful enough to take on blocks in the phone booth and, when he's playing with leverage, he explodes through tackles and is reliable in space. A sideline-to-sideline pursuit type, he also demonstrates good agility and fluidness dropping back in pass coverage. He gets a deep drop in zone coverage and displays above-average range. He can easily match up vs. most tight ends and running backs one-on-one covering in the short area. He also displays good burst and instincts as a blitzer, as well.”
At 6-foot-2 and 237 pounds, Wilson might be a better option for the Packers in the third or fourth round than touted but undersized prospects Eric Kendricks (UCLA; 6-foot-0) and Denzel Perryman (Miami; 5-foot-11) in the first or second.
“With his ability to take on the lead blocker and plug the rush lanes, Wilson has proven to be a great fit in the middle,” reads his scouting report. “He keeps his pads low and drives hard with his shoulders, possessing the functional strength to face up to single blocks. He needs to play in better control working through traffic (will outrun the play at times), but stays on his feet and shows good balance. He hits with a thud and is an effective wrap-up tackler. He squares up and breaks down well, showing good form tackling in-line or when operating in space. He is more of an explosive hitter than strong, but generates the pop needed to take down running backs. The thing you see on film is his ability to bring his arms and feet to fit and secure. He hits with good purpose and has good natural knee bend to drive the opponent back.”
Wilson ran his 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine in 4.77 seconds.
“He doesn’t look as big as he is but he can run with anyone on the field,” said Amarlo Herrera, another inside linebacker prospect from Georgia.
Wilson was a two-year starter for the Bulldogs at inside linebacker but saw action at outside linebacker as a sophomore. With plenty of quality film against excellent competition, what’s left for Wilson to prove?
“I want them to know that I'm very passionate about the game,” Wilson said. “I'll do whatever it takes to be great and I'm ready at all times to do anything on their team.”
The NFL has been Wilson’s dream for years. It was his father who encouraged him to start playing when he was 6.
Now, he’s two months away from having his dream fulfilled. Reaching the NFL, however, won’t be his final destination. Rather, it’s just a new start.
One Dad will be watching from above.
“Sometimes,” Wilson said when asked if he imagine what it will be like to get a call from a team on draft day. “I imagine it's a great feeling, but I have to go out and prove it. I have to put up the numbers. I have to back it up.”firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.