Why the Slide?: Mack Wilson

Why the Slide?: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Five years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Three years ago, we started the Why the Slide? series, and this year it is back. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

During the leadup to the 2019 NFL Draft, Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson was viewed to be a consensus second-day pick. After a strong debut in 2017, Wilson improved his play in 2018 with 71 tackles with five passes broken up, two interceptions and five tackles for a loss. He was the top linebacker on the Crimson Tide and helped them to get to another National Championship game. Wilson decided to skip his senior year and enter the 2019 NFL Draft. Around the league, Wilson was considered to be one of the best, if not the best, pass-coverage linebacker in the 2019 NFL Draft and drew comparisons to former Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, a first-round pick of the Ravens who went to four Pro Bowls in his first five seasons in the NFL. Thus, it was surprising when Wilson slipped to the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

In speaking with team sources, Wilson slid because of character concerns and teams worrying about him fitting in their locker room. Wilson did not have good interviews at the combine, which made those concerns even worse. Sources at a number of teams really liked Wilson as a player, but his personal makeup caused some teams to pass on him.

The Browns ended Wilson’s fall in the fifth round, and that was a good landing spot for him. Because of Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey, Wilson probably won’t start as a rookie, but he offers unique skills in pass coverage, so he could rotate into the game quickly. Eventually, he could win a starting job as a Mike or Will linebacker. During the course of his rookie contract I think he could become a solid starter for the Browns who is an asset in pass coverage and makes their defense stout in the middle of the field. The big challenge will be Wilson adjusting to the NFL and becoming a pro. The Browns organization will have the challenge of working with Wilson and getting him to mesh with his teammates. If he is a negative presence in the locker room, he may not have a long NFL career. But if WIlson can put the character issues behind him, he could end up being a very good pro linebacker who has a successful career and turns into a good starter for the Browns or another organization.

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