NAME: Mack Wilson
JERSEY: No. 30
RECRUITMENT RATING: 5-star
WT: 231 lbs
Key & Diagnose – Super disappointing to see so little growth in this area as a junior. Made very few plays behind the line of scrimmage due to a lack of instincts or ability to play forward on a consistent basis. Flat-footed off the snap and rarely beats blockers to spots. When his windows opened up he didn’t enter attack mode. Late to defend gaps too often and gave himself unfavorable angles as a result.
Range – Not explosive like Roquan Smith or even Devin White in his first step or two, but can definitely run and hit. Has shown the ability to get from the core of the formation to the sideline when runs bounce wide. Won’t win every footrace, but favorable enough in this area to keep up with most backs when his angles are good.
Tackling/Finishing – Too many misses in space, over-pursuing opponents and failing to throttle down and square up. Has good strength to get runners down when he grips them up, his bigger issue is losing before he even attempts the tackle, either by taking a bad angle or failing to break down in space. If he lines you up, you’ll feel it tomorrow.
Coverage – Has some feel/staying in phase issues that haunt him in man. Will approach backs out of the backfield too aggressively and try to jump their routes, allowing them to separate in the break. Has lost his man trying to locate the football. In zone, has great range and has flashed unbelievable ball skills. Six interceptions in two seasons, one as just a situational player, highlights the splash plays he’s capable of. Does gamble at times and needs to process routes around him a little quicker.
Block Deconstruction – When he takes the fight to blockers, does so with low pad level and good hand placement to stack blocks and even shed them in flashes. But way too often is an easy target to pin down at the second level, not playing forward or creating the violence needed to work off contact quickly around the box. Doesn’t do a great job of sifting through trash and playing through blocks to make stops either.
Change of Direction – Fluid athlete in space, but doesn’t have elite lateral movement skills. Can over-pursue heavily in one direction, making his change of direction look worse than it actually is. When he’s under control, has pretty solid ability to mirror ball carriers in space.
Competitive Toughness – I don’t know that I would say he plays every rep with the same intensity, but effort and physicality aren’t issues. Plenty of examples of him taking the fight to blockers and laying the wood as a tackler.
Pass Rush – Really effective delayed blitzer and has the ability to rush off the edge situationally. Shows tremendous physicality to take on backfield blockers, lowering the shoulder to power through running backs. Can dip underneath offensive linemen around the edge. Times up his pressures well and arrives at the quarterback with a vengeance. Good paths to the pocket.
Discipline – Has to be more consistent mentally. Can fall asleep and lose his assignment or key. Has been moved out of position by fakes and held by play action. Moments of freelancing and guessing in coverage will be taken advantage of by more savvy quarterbacks.
Athleticism/Size – A little slight for a linebacker, but the NFL is gravitating toward his size at linebacker. A good athlete on tape with impressive fluidity, but is he athletic enough to suggest major upside with continued development?
BEST TRAIT – Ball Skills
WORST TRAIT – Key & Diagnose
RED FLAGS – None
Wilson was my favorite draft-eligible linebacker in the country heading into the season, admittedly off of just two starts and some third down coverage play that got me excited. Unfortunately he did not live up to expectations this season at Alabama, failing to show much development from the neck up in his key-and-diagnose ability.
I’m still hopeful on Wilson’s coverage ability and bullish on his impressive ball skills, redeeming qualities that keep him firmly as a day 2 grade on my board. But unless he gets more aggressive in his playing style between the tackles, playing forward and attacking his keys rather than sitting back on his heels, it’s hard to see him being a quality, 3-down starter in the NFL.
Football Intelligence –Had a lot put on his plate, showed well to trust his keys and not flash at the first sign of influence to get pulled out of position by misdirection. Understanding of angles and fit on team defense shined in the box and in the secondary alike.
Tackling –Booming pads when he’s in a phone booth, his coil and finishing skills are terrific. Has eaten RBs at full speed on the second level and anchored/drove the legs to avoid slipping off of giving up ground. Tackle balance on lateral scrapes needs some minor tweaking.
Block Shedding –Hands are aggressive and provide plenty of pop. Punch offers separation window to sweep or pull off an OL at first contact and like his ability to roll through contact with his hips to generate force and power in efforts to stand up blockers.
Competitive Toughness –Doesn’t play like a finesse backer in the box, he’s a great blend of hands, hips, explosiveness and just enough aggressiveness to really stack up blockers and step into gaps with authority. Physicality stands up against OL.
Lateral Mobility –Has true sideline to sideline range to influence and provided he’s not cut off by his own teammates in pursuit he’s rarely beaten to the edge. Short area mobility to displace himself a gap and pop over the top of a climbing OL is very good.
Coverage Skills –Wonderful physical toolbox. Had some inexplicable late season lapses in coverage but is super productive in space. Hips flip effortlessly to carry vertical stems. Shows good anticipation vs. quick game and click/close ability to punish receivers.
Gap Shooting Ability –Hasn’t been assigned a lot of single gap reps: was more asked to read mesh and scrape over top to meet the football. His initial quickness and anticipation have flashed in this capacity and in a more aggressive role he would win a lot of reps with quickness to cut under a block.
Feet/Change of Direction –Very nimble footed. Effortless mover who transitions like a safety in space when mirroring route combinations or following the eyes of the quarterback. Explosive first step is present to spring into action and cover a lot of ground in pursuit.
Flexibility –Has better hip hinge and bend than most safeties in this year’s class, terrific mobility below the waist to stay fluid in his drops. Shows good pad level through the box to unload as needed. Ample lateral reach in his step frequency to scrape and cover ground.
First Step Quickness –Twitchy athlete. His burst is pretty underrated as it isn’t given a lot of reps to flash but when he’s blitzing or sees a play immediately he’s stepping down hard and beating OL who can’t readjust their landmarks in time cut him off.
BEST TRAIT – Lateral Mobility
WORST TRAIT – Consistency
BEST FILM – Texas A&M (2018)
WORST FILM – Oklahoma (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Mack Wilson has a terrific ceiling as a starting MLB in the NFL. Wilson shows patience in reading the mesh point, speed to scrape sideline to sideline and short area quickness to defeat blocks. With top shelf hip mobility and range, Wilson is a three down linebacker who can make an impact in the passing game. That said, Wilson has only started 17 games and his consistency is of concern. Getting more reps should solidify his standing as a top-tier LB prospect.
Coverage – Glides through space when sinking in zone drops. Naturally reads the quarterback and works into throwing lanes. Has the movement skills needed to carry running backs and tight ends into space. Ball skills are outstanding and made some plays on the football the looked like he was a wide receiver. Wires can get crossed when his zone is flooded.
Tackling – Mixed bag. Has plenty of reps where he lays the wood with excellent form, accelerates his feet through contact and makes impact tackles. There are other times where his angles are off and he struggles to get square while whiffing in space.
Blocks – Another area of highs and lows. Ample reps where he explodes into blocks and plugs them back into gaps with heavy, active hands. Other times he will undercut or slip the blocks while opening up running lanes. Like most linebackers, he’s most effective when he is kept clean but there are navigational issues sifting through traffic.
Physicality – Willing to meet and challenge blockers in the hole while laying the wood as a tackler. Can play into the line of scrimmage and features good hitting power/contact balance when he’s able to square up. Adding play strength and bulk would benefit him at the next level.
Motor – Plays with good urgency and intent on ever snap but wouldn’t say he’s overly aggressive or unrelenting in pursuit. Would like for him to be more trusting reading his keys and attack. Played in a disciplined, assignment-driven defense which may play into modest urgency given trust of his teammates to do their job.
Processing – Is a clean processor that isn’t easily manipulated by play fakes. There are times I wish he would commit to his pursuit quicker and go. Can almost be too patient at times. Reads the quarterback extremely well in coverage.
Range – Has excellent range and is capable of making plays to the sideline. Doesn’t have elite closing burst or speed, but he’s very quick and can cover ground. Needs to cleanup some inconsistencies with pursuit angles to make sure he arrives to the football on schedule.
Flexibility – Smooth and easy mover in space. Can turn and run in man coverage with clean transitions. Would benefit from playing with better leverage in his back pedal. Hips are fluid and his ability to work laterally is excellent.
Versatility – Offers some intrigue as an inside linebacker in a 4-3 but I like him best as a WILL where his range and coverage skills are most effective. Has playmaking upside on every down, with plus traits in coverage.
BEST TRAIT – Coverage
WORST TRAIT – Consistency
RED FLAGS – None
A 17-game starter in college, Wilson’s film has some ups and downs which should be expected. With that said, his peaks are really exciting in terms of what he can do in coverage, pursuit and playing into the line of scrimmage. He may not be an immediate starter but his skill set projects favorably to today’s NFL and what is needed from second level defenders. He has the ceiling of a high quality starter with playmaking upside on every down.