2020 NFL Draft: ACC’s Marvin Wilson will marvel NFL scouts

There are defensive tackles that fit particular schemes, and then there's Marvin Wilson. The versatile defensive lineman has the chance to be a day one pick by next April's 2020 NFL Draft.

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Roster building in the National Football League has become an art form. Many front offices have their unique philosophies, but one prevailing strategy is building teams by starting in the trenches. Want evidence? The recent 2019 NFL Draft featured 17 first-round selections spent on both the offensive and defensive lines. Eleven of those were on defense. There is always high demand for trench defenders. One name in the ACC that will stand out in this group this season is Florida State’s Marvin Wilson.

Five-star fresh

A former five-star high school recruit out of Houston, Texas, Marvin Wilson has had an interesting start to his football career. Although he was one of the nation’s most highly coveted recruits, Wilson has yet to get the playing time one would expect.

The big lineman has started in only five games, which came in the recent 2018 season. But the only thing that has held Wilson off the field are more tenured, experienced defensive linemen who earned those snaps, including 2019 sixth-round pick Demarcus Christmas.

All of this is to say the 6’5”, 311 lbs Wilson is a menace of a player that’s seen at least some playing time the last 24 Seminole games. Based on what he’s provided on tape, Wilson is slowly but surely living up to his billing as both the top recruit from the state of Texas and top defensive tackle of 2017. Given that he’s worked as a rotational lineman, Wilson has the opportunity this year to put it all together even more than he has previously shown.

Solid Seminole

Marvin Wilson has shown flashes of being a dominant defender in the NFL. His tape shows numerous plays where he can lose or win at the point of attack and still drive through the opposition by possessing a loose lower body. Being able to drive through any blocking, even if he’s off-balance up top, suggests that his consistent pressure will translate to the pros. Wilson’s wide body and thick build make him a mountain to move.

Another trait that pops off the tape is his short-area burst and quickness. Time and time again, Wilson sheds blockers and closes the gap on the quarterback in a flash. In addition, he has flashed some ability to turn the corner on his few snaps at the 5-tech spot. On running plays, he can penetrate the line quickly enough to pursue the ball carrier single-handedly, squaring up for tackles like a linebacker. This fluidity is tremendous for a man of his size. It suggests that his burst and quickness can handle the speed of the NFL and create opportunities for him to secure three-down responsibilities.

Starvin’ Marvin

Why am I calling Marvin Wilson, “Starvin’”? Because Wilson is as hungry a defender as it gets. The best part of Wilson’s game is his motor. He relentlessly assaults his gap, maintaining his responsibilities to penetrate run blocks or shred the pocket. Using swims, clubs, and an assortment of moves against opposing offensive linemen, he consistently applies pressure on every down. Having this level of attack consistency provides him the versatility to find time on the field in multiple fronts.

Moving from the 0-technique and shade spots all the way to snaps at the 5-tech, Wilson has demonstrated enough consistency to warrant his forthcoming starting role in 2019. 

Additionally, Marvin Wilson is an impressively powerful lineman. He plays with apparent upper body strength, and the way he marries that to his feet allows him to carry that power through the play. Because he maintains excellent balance with his size, his attacking nature is bolstered by his refinement. Wilson has everything that an NFL defensive coordinator desires in a DL, especially a coordinator that utilizes multiple fronts and values versatility. 

What to expect next

Marvin Wilson’s play has not gone unnoticed after he disrupted opponents on every snap. Last year, he was nominated to honorable mention All-ACC despite starting only five games. In addition, Wilson was awarded the team’s Bobby Bowden Leadership Award.

The accolades do not stop there. Wilson was recently announced as a nominee of the 2019 Preseason All-ACC Team, Bednarik Award Watch List, Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, and Outland Trophy Award Watch List. Scouts, coaches, fans and NFL teams are beginning to take notice of the talented big man. Even Wilson is well aware of this fact, along with his newfound role as a leader to his teammates: 

“I know a lot of people are going to be focused on me this year because of the season I had last year,” Wilson said.

“I think we’ve all seen Marvin and what he’s been. He’s been a great leader, he’s played a lot of football for us,” FSU head coach Willie Taggart said.

“He’s holding guys accountable and that’s great to see. It’s important to him.”

This 2019 season is monumental for the Florida State football program, with rising stars on offense and a talent like Marvin Wilson leading the defense. If Wilson maintains his upward trajectory, he is likely a first-round lock in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Felix Davila is a writer for PFN covering the NFL Draft. He is also the editor for the AFC North team. You can follow him @DavilaFootball on Twitter. 

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