From now until the 2019 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#30 Mack Wilson/ILB Alabama – 6’2” 239
- Able to fight off blockers with ease, scrapes through junk effectively
- Short area burst, can get to the sideline quickly
- Loose hips, shows good change of direction skills
- Downhill speed, effective to wrap up RBs in the backfield and as a blitzer
- Good mental processing, rarely fooled
- Comfortable dropping into coverage, even deep coverage
- Makes breaks on the football
- Always around the ball, natural playmaker
- Has a tendency to missile launch into ball carriers which leads to missed tackles
- Over shoots some angles leaving him in bad positions
- Lives and dies by his aggressiveness
- 2018: 65 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions
- Career: 113 tackles, 7 tackles for a loss, 6 interceptions
- 2018 Second team All-SEC by coaches
- Semi-finalist for the Butkus Award
- Fifth most interceptions in the SEC with four in 2017
The speculation is finally over. Alabama’s Mack Wilson has officially declared for the NFL Draft and the junior inside linebacker is surely going to make waves during the pre-draft process. Alongside LSU linebacker Devin White (Our own Josh Carney did a great report on White here), Wilson is one of the top inside linebacker prospects in this year’s draft as his skills translate into being an instant starter at the next level.
If you want to make it to the NFL as an inside linebacker, you have to be able to defend the run. If you want to be selected in the first round, get paid handsomely and rack up numerous All-Pro or Pro Bowl honors, you need to not only be strong against the run but also be instinctive in coverage. With true three down linebackers in such high demand, Wilson will certainly be one of the first linebackers off the board due to his ability in coverage.
Every interception that Alabama LB Mack Wilson has recorded during his career. Wilson is just a straight up playmaker with insane instincts. A true three down linebacker. pic.twitter.com/w0OyLxeO9H
— Daniel Valente (@StatsGuyDaniel) January 17, 2019
Above is a compilation of all the interceptions Wilson nabbed during his time at Alabama and there are a few conclusions to be drawn. First, the linebacker is a straight up playmaker who always finds himself around the football. That is not a coincidence as Wilson has tremendous instincts in coverage. Notice the athleticism and ball skills he demonstrates as well, showing an impressive vertical against LSU and undercutting a throw against FSU. His playmaking skill in coverage is almost Ryan Shazier-like.
Pass coverage is the hardest part of the job for the modern-day linebacker and Wilson has proved that he is highly skilled in that regard. When it comes to playing between the tackles, Wilson shows that his instincts are just as impressive. He is rarely fooled by misdirection or play action and he always finds a way to be around the ball. On the play above, Wilson is not fooled by the option, keying in on the Georgia H-Back who pulls as a lead blocker and is then able to tackle the quarterback for no gain.
Wilson may end up alongside magicians Penn and Teller on their television series ‘Fool Us’ because any successful attempt in fooling him would be an impressive feat. The linebacker is hardly baited into traps as he always seems to be a step ahead of the offense. He quickly recognizes that LSU is running a halfback screen above and is able to navigate his way to the ball carrier to make a tackle for a loss. Wilson spent time on offense as an H-Back during his freshman year with Alabama and his familiarity on the offensive side of the ball shows as a defender as he able to read keys quickly and effectively.
Wilson has the brain to be an NFL linebacker and essentially be the quarterback of the defense as his mental processing is certainly among the best of his class. His natural athleticism is also superb as well. Wilson has the speed to not only excel as a downhill thumper, making plays in the backfield (as shown above) but also has the range to be a sideline to sideline player.
One cause for concern and it is evident on the play above is Wilson’s tackling. His tackling consistency is above average but he is guilty of firing himself at his targets which causes him to miss more tackles than he should. He lives and dies by his aggressiveness and he will struggle if his target is not straight ahead. In what is perhaps his only area of improvement, Wilson could benefit from being a tad more patient though I doubt it would be possible to change his style of play at this point. You live and die by the sword and the sword in this scenario is Wilson’s aggressiveness.
Now while Wilson is an aggressive player, he makes up for it in two ways. His instincts, as mentioned earlier and his change of direction ability. Wilson has very loose hips and is able to change direction very smoothly, which allows him to be the aggressive linebacker that he is. Watch above as Wilson leans to his left but then matches the cutback by the Georgia running back to meet him in the hole. It is an impressive display and is just one of the many reasons why the Alabama linebacker has a sky-high ceiling.
The Steelers have not had a playmaker on defense since Shazier suffered his back injury. While Shazier’s athleticism and instincts may have been generational traits for the position, Wilson would be a much-needed boost to a Steelers’ defense that is starving for a playmaker.
The team that selects Wilson in this year’s NFL Draft is getting a highly talented player, that is without question but there will be many talented players in this year’s draft. What makes Wilson different is his toolset. The Alabama linebacker comes ready to play from day one. He has the instincts to be a playmaker both against the run and in coverage and he has the athleticism to patrol sideline to sideline. There will be many talented players in this year’s draft but few have the talent and potential that Wilson brings to the table.
Projection: Day One
Games Watched: vs Georgia, vs Ole Miss, vs LSU,
|Previous 2019 NFL Draft Player Profiles|
|Devin White||Dax Raymond||Josh Allen||Te’von Coney||Germaine Pratt|