Browns vs Redskins Preview: What to Watch in Preseason Game 1, It may only be a preseason game in Cleveland, but it might as well be opening day. That’s the level of hunger and excitement.
== MATCH INFO ==
NFL Football 2019 Preseason Week 1
Team : Browns vs Redskins
Date : Thursday, August 8
Start Time : 7:30 Pm Et
Heading into the 2018 college football season, many draft analysts were already looking to the 2019 NFL Draft with certain prospects in mind. Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson was looked at as a potential first or second-round selection in the draft. Fast forward to April, and Wilson’s name tumbled down the draft board until Browns general manager John Dorsey made the call to pick the 6’0″ junior with the 155th selection in the draft.
While Wilson’s fall may not be known, what IS known is Wilson is a playmaker in the passing game, as evident by his highlight plays in recent training camp practices.
In his player profile, Wilson was noted and praised by The Draft Network’s Joe Marino for his coverage skills, “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.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller said of Wilson, “Alabama’s Mack Wilson is the ideal middle linebacker for today’s game. He’s capable of playing in a 3-4, 4-3, 3-3-5 or 4-2-5 defense and has experience in each of them for the Crimson Tide. Nick Saban’s staff has done a great job coaching up Wilson’s reaction time and football IQ while also using his athleticism and range to its advantage.”
Entering training camp, it seemed like third-round rookie linebacker Sione Takitaki would be the rookie with the fastest track to playing time, but from all observations, there’s a good chance both could see roles carved out on defense. Takitaki and Wilson, who are roommates for training camp, are perfect complements for each other. Takitaki is a strong run defender but still developing his coverage skills. Wilson is phenomenal in coverage, but struggles against the run, often getting caught up in blocks.
Wilson is the perfect type of coverage sub-package linebacker who could help in space on tight ends and running backs. He has shown throughout training camp his ball skills are not to be forgotten either.
Wilson is a bonafide playmaker as a linebacker and could be a standout player early for Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, who spoke about Wilson’s play and development after practice on Tuesday.
Kitchens said, “I think some of these guys come out of school and they are swimming. There are a couple of different phases of their swimming here. One of them is in the spring when they are first initiated into. The second is when the minicamps and the OTAs start and the speed picks up a little bit. The third, they start swimming again when the pads go on.
Things start going a little faster. It is a process for those guys. That is why you have training camp is to get some of those things worked out. I have been very pleased with Mack in the last three days. We need to keep stringing days together. Everybody needs to string days together, and you do that by just walking on the field and making the best of that day and that rep and so on.”
Kitchens hasn’t been the only one who had praise for Wilson either. Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks also offered praise for the Alabama rookie linebacker, as previously noted earlier this week.
Kitchens has a saying that he has used consistently throughout training camp: “Either you get exposed or get exposure.”
So far for Wilson, the exposure he has received leads many fans to believe that he could be one of the biggest steals in the draft.