The Florida State Seminoles have been a historic program for NFL superstars, with 24 first-round draft picks since 2000 (trailing only Ohio State, Alabama, and Miami). Their defensive players in recent years have quickly ascended to the top of their position, with players like Jalen Ramsey, Derwin James, and Brian Burns emerging as NFL superstars. Senior defensive tackle Marvin Wilson is poised to be the next Florida State player set to be a high pick in the NFL Draft.
Marvin Wilson NFL Draft Profile
Weight: 305 pounds
Position: Defensive Tackle
School: Florida State
Current Year: Senior
Defensive tackle Marvin Wilson was an elite high-school recruit, and one of Jimbo Fisher’s biggest recruiting wins of his tenure at Florida State. Wilson was the No. 1 defensive tackle prospect and No. 1 recruit from the rich football state of Texas. He was ranked 6th nationally on 24/7’s composite rankings, behind players like Jaelan Phillips, Najee Harris, Cam Akers (another FSU commit), Alex Leatherwood, and Foster Sarrell. He ranked ahead of the No. 2 and No. 3 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, with Chase Young 7th and Jeff Okudah 8th.
Wilson exploded onto the recruiting scene as a sophomore when he posted 64 tackles and 14 sacks, matching up with the best of the best. He helped his team make the playoffs every year in high school. Wilson accumulated 42 sacks in his career, displaying a massive frame combined with agility and above-average strength. Getting invites to the Rivals Challenge in Atlanta in 2016 and the Opening Camp sponsored by Nike rocketed his recruiting status skywards and spawned a brand for Wilson.
Wilson was given the name “Real Life Goon” after shouting the phrase during the Rivals challenge. The phrase helped him market himself better nationally, and trended on Twitter after the event. Wilson chose the Florida State Seminoles over LSU, Oklahoma, and Ohio State, in the form of using custom Jordan-brand Sneakers. One of the biggest factors in his decision: FSU’s honey-fried chicken.
“They had this thing called honey fried chicken,” said Wilson. “I was like, ‘That sounds kinda suspect,’ and I got one piece. I bit into that one piece of chicken and went and grabbed the pan, and we ate that whole pan of honey fried chicken. That’s probably the best chicken I’ve ever had in my life.”
Wilson is a big fan of poetry as well, having won a Silver Key from Scholastic Arts and Writing. He also exhibits poetry in motion on the field. He could have been a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft but elected to stay in school and play for the now-Mike Norvell led Florida State Seminoles.
Marvin Wilson out for the rest of the season
On November 11th, Florida State coach Mike Norvell announced that Marvin Wilson would miss the remainder of the 2020 season. Wilson sustained a leg injury that caused him to miss the game against Pitt. That injury will now sideline him for the rest of the season and puts his NFL Draft stock into a bind. If he can’t test or work out in the offseason, his stock will inevitably plummet, especially after such a down season.
Wilson has lost a lot of money this season. He went from being viewed as a first-round pick in the offseason to a Day 2 type of player after another season-ending leg injury, potentially making a lot of teams hesitant on drafting him. If COVID-19 forces teams to conduct the draft season like they did last year, medicals will play a huge part in the draft process. As such, two back-to-back leg injuries will cost Wilson his first-round selection.
Marvin Wilson’s impact negated by Louisville’s offense
Marvin Wilson had a lackluster box score showing in Florida State’s game against Louisville, much like the rest of the defensive tackle’s season so far. He posted two tackles and one tackle for loss. However, this doesn’t tell the full story. Wilson did not get blown out of this game like the Notre Dame tape. Louisville often ran away from Wilson and played a quick passing game to the outside — negating his ability as a pass rusher. The defense outside of Wilson has still presented a problem, and the quick passing game neutralized Wilson as a pass rusher.
In run defense, Wilson did a good job overall of blowing up blocks and holding gaps when on the field, but again, Louisville ran a lot of stretch runs and sweeps to get outside. FSU seems to be taking him off the field more this season. It could be a new defensive coordinator seeking to keep guys fresh, or Wilson is still working back from his injury. Regardless, Wilson’s game has not been the dominant one this season that many were expecting during his senior season thus far.
Marvin Wilson dominates in FSU’s upset over North Carolina
The Florida State program has had some ups and downs, but they got a program-shifting win in an upset over No. 5 North Carolina. While the senior defensive tackle didn’t record a sack, he was consistently winning his battles upfront and helped Florida State harass quarterback Sam Howell. Wilson’s dominance helped free the other rushers on the field, as FSU frequently blitzed Howell to knock him out of rhythm.
Wilson’s performance kicked off with a blocked punt early on in the first quarter. He knifed through the first wave of blockers and physically overwhelmed the deep protectors to get a hand on the punt. The punt bounced off his hand and traveled around 18 yards before UNC downed it. Unfortunately, the offense wasn’t able to capitalize on the field position. That was not just a one-off for Wilson, who leads the country in blocked kicks.
The matchup was Wilson’s best game of the season after suffering from a slow start to the year. The rust looked like it had been knocked off after missing several games last season with an injury and the radically different offseason. NFL scouts won’t have to look much further than the final drive for UNC’s offense to see what is so enticing about Wilson.
Wilson came up clutch in the last few plays. First, he stuffed running back Michael Carter, using a nice spin move to disengage with the right guard and make the tackle. Wilson used his patented club move on the next play and crushed Howell as he was making the throw. A bit later, Wilson simply bull-rushed the opposing lineman and walked him right into Howell, disrupting the pocket and forcing an erratic throw. On the last play, Wilson was initially stymied by the guard, but dipped around the corner and forced Howell out of the pocket, forcing him to escape with his legs. He couldn’t quite finish the play, but Howell had the ball out quickly several times.
Marvin Wilson’s opening games of 2020 are an example of frustration
Wilson enjoyed some good games against Georgia Tech and Jacksonville State but was frustrated by Miami (FL) and Notre Dame as well. Wilson got ejected for targeting in the second half against Miami and recorded minimal pressure, most notably on a play where quarterback D’Eriq King rolled out of the pocket and Wilson was working against a tight end one-on-one.
Notre Dame completely wiped Marvin Wilson out of the picture. Wilson had one tackle and that was all he had to show from that game. The interior of Notre Dame’s offensive line washed Wilson out of several plays. Wilson continuously kept his pad level too high and Notre Dame’s experienced offensive line exploited it. Wilson’s quickness helped, but his still-developing repertoire of pass-rushing moves wasn’t good enough to make consistent plays.
Florida State’s secondary has really struggled as well this season, especially with star safety Hamsah Nasirildeen missing time. This lower level of play on the backend means that quarterbacks do not need as much time in the pocket, which exacerbates the problem for the struggling pass rush. That is a small caveat to Wilson’s numbers but by no means a complete excuse.
His dominance in the North Carolina game showed a glimpse of what he can do and might be enough of a momentum builder to suggest Wilson’s early struggles were simply due to rust. He has plenty of time to build upon this game before the Seminoles take on Clemson on November 21.
Marvin Wilson’s fit in the 2021 NFL Draft
Wilson’s physical tools are enough to fit in any defensive front. He can consistently two-gap with the best of them and eats contact up for breakfast. He’s shown an ability to dominate through the B-gap like a 3-tech. It might be better to play him closer to 1-tech because of his average get-off, but there’s no reason Wilson can’t plug-and-play inside. His work ethic and intangibles are excellent.
Some teams that could use the defensive tackle help that Marvin Wilson will bring in the NFL Draft are the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, and the Los Angeles Rams.