It should not come as a surprise if the Los Angeles Rams draft a linebacker with one of their first few selections in the NFL Draft. With the departure of Cory Littleton, a large gap remains in the middle of the new Brandon Staley defense. The Rams are going to be looking for a player that can play aggressive in what we can assume with be a Vic Fangio-style defense while also playing fast.
One player that may be in the cards to do just that is Logan Wilson from Wyoming.
Wilson returned to Wyoming as one of the premier defensive players in the country last season and arguably saved his best season for last. The inside linebacker tallied over 100 tackles for a third straight season and saw career highs in coverage with four interceptions and double-digit passes defended.
A three-time captain voted by his teammates, Wilson earned First Team All-America honors from Pro Football Focus, Second Team All-America recognition from USA Today and Third Team All-America honors from Associated Press. He was one of only six finalists for the 2019 Butkus Award, honoring the nation’s best linebacker and was voted to the First Team All-Mountain West Conference Team. Wilson concluded his career with 421 career tackles, which ranks him No. 4 in Wyoming history and No. 4 in Mountain West history.
Wilson will be a perfect fit to lineup inside on any defense in the NFL. He’s an instinctive player with three-down ability right out of the gates. The Wyoming linebacker is an elite tackler which starts with his ability to diagnose and anticipate plays quickly at the line of scrimmage. His threat as a tackler makes him solid in the run game while his athleticm allows him to also be a threat in zone coverage. Wilson has very good movement skills and he’s a good athlete. Combine that athleticism with his instinctiveness, and it’s hard not to get excited about his potential.
At just 6’2, he might seem a little small, but he has a natural power that allows him to succeed against players that are bigger than him. Playing defense at a school like Wyoming requires a certain type of toughness. Wilson is a gritty player and will bring that to the team that drafts him.
Wilson is much better in zone coverage than he is in man. He doesn’t have the speed or fluidiity to cover tight ends up the seam and is much better in shallow zone underneath where he can watch the quarterbacks eyes and react.
Three Plays on Tape
This play demonstrates Wilson’s ability in coverage. He’s responsibly for the zone in the middle of the field. He reads the quarterbacks eyes and then his athleticism and ball skills do the rest. He’s a threat in the middle of the field in zone coverage and it’s apparent why.
Here you get to see Wilson ability to read and react. The offense puts the tight end in motion and the defensive line reacts. There’s a lot of movement on this play and Wilson doesn’t get caught up in it. He reads the tight end screen, sheds the block, and the play goes nowhere.
Wilson is a smart player which makes him perfect to plug and play in the middle of a defense. Here he not only recongizes and anticipates the route, but he reads the quarterbacks eyes once again. His ability to cover those shallow underneath zones is maybe his biggest strength because on those plays he’s able to keep the play in front of him, read, and react. This in an interception all the way.
Personally, I see Wilson as a day one starter, but would not fault a team for starting him on special teams and in a rotational role on defense while working him into a full-time role later in his rookie season. To me, Wilson is a player that you can draft on day two or early day three and get starting reps out of. He can play three downs, he’s smart, and he’s got the competiveness to succeed. He’s going to do everything that’s asked of him and then some. Realistically, he’s a rotational player in year one, but a full-time starter by year two, if not sooner.
Wilson is a player that can play all three downs. He’s aggressive, he’s faster than he looks, and he has a nose for the football. He’s got a bit of an old-school style to him, but he can certainly play linebacker in the modern NFL. He lacks some fluidity in his movements and might struggle in man coverage which is why he’s not an early day two or even day one player, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be successful. For a team looking for a player with a high floor that can develop into a full-time starter fairly quickly, Wilson is your guy.