Can get pushed back defending runs coming downhill
Does not fire into a hole or the backfield often
Summary: With the NFL becoming a passing-driven league, pro teams need linebackers who are capable of contributing to pass coverage. Wilson is that kind of linebacker and should become a valuable pass defender quickly in his NFL career. Alabama has produced a lot of good linebacker talent for the pros, and Wilson will keep that alive for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Wilson received his first extensive playing time in 2017. The sophomore then collected 40 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and four interceptions on the year. After that strong debut, Wilson improved his play in 2018 with 71 tackles with five passes broken up, two interceptions and five tackles for a loss. He did not work out at the combine.
Wilson is the best pass-coverage linebacker in the 2019 NFL Draft. He is a quick linebacker who covers a lot of ground in zone coverage while also showing the ability to run down the middle seam. Wilson should be a nice asset to cover tight ends running vertically down the middle of the field and running backs leaking out of the backfield, plus he should be a good defender to help with receivers crossing the middle of the field. On top of being able to cover up receivers, Wilson has rare ball skills for a linebacker along with an ability to take the ball away. He is smart and instinctive to get in throwing lanes and disrupt passes. Wilson's pass coverage is his best trait, and he should be an asset in coverage quickly in his NFL career.
As a run defender, Wilson could stand to get better at taking on and shedding blocks when runs come downhill straight at him. He has some speed to close, is able to change direction to redirect, and does a nice job of getting to the flat on perimeter runs. In college, Wilson did not show much run defense coming downhill and firing into a gap at the line of scrimmage, and that also is reflected in his meager tackles for a loss production. If Wilson were as good at defending the run as he is the pass, he would be a top-10 pick, so improving his ground play will be his big point of improvement.
On top of being a future three-down starter, Wilson could be a valuable contributor on special teams. He was excellent on kick coverage for Alabama early in his career.
In the 2019 NFL Draft, Wilson is expected to be a second-round pick. He had a shot at being a late first-round pick, but team sources said that Wilson had some poor interviews that fostered more concerns about his makeup. Even with some character concerns, Wilson probably won't get out of Round 2 because of his pass-coverage skills.
Player Comparison: C.J. Mosley. There are a lot of similarities between Mosley and Wilson coming out of Alabama. Both were excellent pass-coverage linebackers who could stand to improve their run defense for the NFL. Mosley had better character and was a bit better against the run, hence he was a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, while Wilson will probably go on Day 2 this year.
NFL Matches: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Indianapolis, Green Bay, New England
The Bengals need linebacker help. The position was a real weakness for them in 2018, and they moved on from Vontaze Burfict after the season. Wilson would make sense for Cincinnati early in Round 2.
Oakland needs more linebacker talent to go with Burfict, and Wilson could interest the Raiders with their second-round pick.
Staying in the AFC North, the Steelers have to improve their inside linebackers, and Wilson could be a top contender for them in the second round if they don't draft a linebacker on the opening night of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Among the playoff teams there are a lot of potential landing spots for Wilson. Indianapolis could consider a linebacker like Wilson to go with Darius Leonard. The Packers could use an inside linebacker to replace Jake Ryan. The defending Super Bowl Champion Patriots also could use some youth at linebacker.