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.