INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Martez Wilson of Illinois works out during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
I’m an avid reader of Walterfootball.com and recently he’s mocked Illinois ILB Martez Wilson to the Steelers with the 31st pick in the first round. Now I know that selection may initially make many of you reach for a gun and go on a killing spree, something perhaps not too unlike the responses I received when I previously tabbed Randall Cobb to the Steelers with the 63rd pick in my most recent seven-round mock draft. While on the surface it seems to be a wasted pick, the fact remains that it would fill an undeniable need. Perhaps not an immediate need in 2011, but Kevin Colbert isn't forced to draft for the immediate future. He's paid to make sure the Steelers remain competitive year after year, and he does so by reloading across the board before glaring needs ever really materialize. That's why the Steelers draft 'best player/talent available' so often.
Here's an article I recently read that better encapsulates the Steelers philosophy of drafting talent over need. After reading it and thinking about how Wilson might fit into the Steelers plans', I thought why not, time to do a player profile on Wilson and give a little insight to a player many in Steelers Nation may not know a whole lot about.
40 time: 4.44 secs
Bench: 23 reps
2010 stats: 112 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception
Martez Wilson's biggest attribute is his speed and reaction time. He is a definition of a "quick twitch" athlete. He has great straight-line speed as evidenced by his 4.44 40 time and can hit his second gear in a hurry which helps in every aspect of his game. It makes him exceptional in man-coverage against Tight Ends and Running backs. Coverage wise he's very good at both man and zone coverage. Combining his speed with his big frame, which believe it or not has room to add more bulk, makes him very versatile. He can play both inside and outside linebacker. He keeps is pad level low and is a very solid tackler.
Cons: The biggest negatives on Wilson are medical and prep work. In his junior year he suffered a herniated disk in his neck which caused him to miss the entire year. That could give some teams pause to consider him in the first round. He also sustained a stabbing-injury while at a nightclub, but he was protecting a former teammate who was on the ground and getting pummeled by seven guys. Early in his career he relied solely on his athletic ability but after the injury he committed to the film room and really improved his game, which is evidenced by his monstrous senior season.In the pros he'll need to continue studying film to refine his game.
Draft Stock: Right now Martez Wilson is the number one rated ILB. With his speed and overall athleticism some teams may see him as a 3-4 OLB which would only increase his value. It's possibility that he could go to San Diego at 18 or K.C. at 21 but that would be a little high, and it's more likely that if he goes in the first round it'll be to Baltimore at 26 (which is where I currently have him in my mock draft), to New England at 28, and definitely to the Jets at 31 who really need help at OLB. If he falls into the second round and the Cardinals do not select Von Miller at 5 then they'll be the first team to target him in the second round at 38.
(Best watched with sound off I'm afraid)
NFL Player Comparison: Miami ILB Karlos Dansby
I've seen a lot of people around the web compare Wilson to Dansby. They are both about the same size and very athletic. And like Dansby was coming into the NFL draft, Wilson is considered a fringe 1st-early 2nd round pick.
Final Word: I know a lot of people think it would be crazy for the Steelers to take a linebacker in the first round of the draft. But what everyone has to remember is that the Steelers always draft on talent rather than need. They have needed CB and O-line help for years but continue to draft early at other positions. Who saw the Steelers taking an OLB in Jason Worilds in the second round in 2010 with James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley on the team? The Steelers took Worilds because they saw the value in him and the need for a replacement for James Harrison in the next couple of years. The same may hold true for Wilson. With the 31st pick players like Mike Pouncey, Brandon Harris, Phil Taylor, Gabe Carimi, and the like may (probably will) all be gone. It's time to find a replacement for James Farrior. He's been a great player and true leader on the Steelers defense for years but his talent is clearly declining. I know many people like 2010 rookie Stevenson Sylvester as the heir to Farrior but he was a late-round pick and so far has only shown his abilities on Special Teams. It's unrealistic to depend on a late-round pick to emerge as a starter. Wilson could contribute on defense in certain situations right away and could take over the starting roll in 2012. While I hope the Steelers can take Pouncey, Carimi, or someone else who can fill a more immediate need I certainly wouldn't be disappointed if they took Martez Wilson at 31.