In the 2019 NFL Draft, many viewed the interior defensive line group as a dominant class, so Auburn’s Derrick Brown chose to return to school and enter after his senior year. He dominated college football and is all but a lock to go top-10 in the coming NFL Draft. In a similar situation, Marvin Wilson of FSU chose to return to school his senior year and should be considered the early favorite to claim the IDL1 crown in the 2021 NFL Draft.
His high athletic upside, combined with his already refined play, will make life easy on NFL evaluators, and if Wilson can have his best season yet, he could be a candidate to be selected top-five.
So what would a season like that look like, and why is it plausible for Wilson to achieve such success? First, we’ll have to look at what he has done before we can start to think about what he will do.
Background of FSU DL Marvin Wilson
In the great state of Texas, Wilson stood out. He wasn’t just viewed as a 5-star prospect by every major recruiting outlet; he was also the consensus top defensive tackle. Some even viewed him as the top defensive player in the class. So when Wilson chose FSU over schools like LSU, Alabama, and Ohio State, it was an impressive get.
Wilson joined the team as a 330-pound, long, athletic specimen. However, he was raw, and his functional play strength still needed some development. He didn’t find the field consistently in his freshman year but still appeared in 12 games. He wasn’t able to find much impact in the box score, but he had cemented himself as a vital part of the rotation, and an important piece for the future. Marvin Wilson of FSU was a name to keep an eye on.
Entering his sophomore season, Wilson had dropped his weight by 15 pounds — a sign of his work ethic and dedication to a regimen. With his new frame and a season of development under his belt, he was ready to step into the spotlight. Wilson did just that for FSU. In 12 games, he accumulated 41 tackles, four tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. He also registered a pass deflection and forced fumble on his way to an All-ACC honorable mention. The entire country was put on notice, and Wilson would look to cement himself as one of the nation’s top players in his junior season.
This past year, Wilson proved to be a destructive force, particularly in the backfield. He more than doubled his tackles for loss at 8.5 and improved his sack number to five as well. While that five might not seem impressive, for an interior lineman of Wilson’s size, it is. For context, Auburn’s Brown never registered more than 4.5 sacks in a season. I also believe Wilson is a bit more athletic than Brown, and his pass rush upside is a bit higher. After his excellent season, many thought Wilson would leave FSU and declare for the 2020 NFL Draft, but he instead chose to return for his senior year and enter the 2021 NFL Draft after graduating.
Wilson will spend his last season at FSU under a new coaching staff, and how they use him will be critical. If Wilson is allowed to burst through the line in a one-gap scheme, he could have his best season yet. However, if he’s just set as a two-gap run defender for the majority of the game, he’s not going to be super impactful.
Wilson’s game is predicated on his burst off the line and making plays in the backfield. He’s long and very explosive, while also showing off quick hands to keep himself clean. If Wilson is in the right scheme, I think we can see a potential stat line of 50 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and seven sacks. That season would put him in-between the production of Brown’s and Quinnen Williams’ final season at Alabama — two of the top defensive tackles to come out in recent memory.
Wilson is also the perfect fit physically between the two. Williams is a solid 285-290, Wilson is about 310, and Brown weighs in around 320. Wilson has the talent to be the next great defensive tackle prospect. When the 2021 NFL Draft starts to roll around, Wilson of FSU will be a name you should know.
Marvin Wilson’s path from FSU to the NFL
Wilson, as I mentioned earlier, is best suited for a one-gap scheme due to his elite burst off the line of scrimmage. However, I don’t think he’s limited to a single position on the interior defensive line. He has the length and play strength to be anywhere from 0-tech, or nose tackle, to the 1-tech, all the way out to the 3-tech, shaded outside the guard. His versatility will be welcome on any defensive line because it means the team doesn’t have to focus to improve a single spot. Adding Wilson means an improvement for the whole line.
With an elite season, Wilson could climb all the way into the top-10 in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, players rarely take explosive steps like that, so if I was to project where he falls, I’d guess Wilson is drafted between 10th and 20th overall. There are always teams that need interior defensive line help. Projecting towards the 2021 NFL Draft, these are teams I could see being interested in adding Wilson to their team:
- Detroit Lions
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Indianapolis Colts
- Philadelphia Eagles