Throughout training camp, there have been some surprising names popping up on a daily basis. One of those has undoubtedly been rookie receiver Albert Wilson, an undrafted free agent out of Georgia State.
Wilson was very productive during his senior season in college, making 71 catches for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns. Wilson showed up against top talent too, hauling in four passes for 60 yards at Alabama. In his first NFL action, albeit preseason, Wilson caught two passes for 14 yards with the second team to accompany a nice job in the return game. Still, we are here to focus on Wilson's offensive potential.
While I did get the Preseason Live package at NFL.com (which failed to work when the game was, you know, live), it does not come with the All-22 film. The pictures below will be from the TV view, so bear with me as this film study will have a little bit of a preseason feel to it.
First thing I noticed was the placement of Wilson by offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. Wilson lined up wide right on his first snap, then wide left, and finally in the slot for his third play. Pederson was clearly trying to move Wilson around and see where he is most comfortable. When Wilson lined up in the slot, we see below that Wilson makes a nice catch right before he's hit hard.
*The picture quality is not great, thanks to a stream that failed me repeatedly. Sorry*
Again, Wilson is lined up in the slot. The Bengals' coverage is calling for the safety to drive any underneath route. Wilson runs a quick out on the play.
Wilson runs a nice route. Often times, a young player or shoddy route runner will take short, choppy steps to get in and out of breaks. Wilson did none of that, making a quick cut before the safety could react.
There are two important notes to make here. Wilson catches the ball with his hands, not his body. Considering the hit Wilson is about to take, he probably does not hang on with the ball ricocheting off his pads. Wilson shows good form and very strong hands.
Wilson stayed in the slot for the next two plays, including Chase Daniel somehow overthrowing Travis Kelce by about three feet on a Bengals pick-six.
On the next drive, Wilson was lined up exclusively wide right. One thing that really bothered me came on 3rd and 7. Wilson was supposed to run a shallow cross, but instead jogged half-speed while staring down Daniel. Wilson looked lost, almost as though he wasn't sure that was the right route to run. In a regular season game those things can not happen.
To give credit where it is due, Wilson runs a heck of a dig route on the following play. Kyle Williams earned a reception on the play, but Wilson could have had a catch as he worked himself wide open.
Here is another example of Wilson making a catch following a well-run route. Wilson ran a curl route from the slot and sat down in a vacated zone in front of the safeties. Daniel timed the throw beautifully and Wilson catches the pass with his hands, not his body (The stream is too atrocious to even attempt pictures). The play was called back due to a penalty on the offensive line, but it doesn't take away fro Wilson's effort.
Overall, I was pleased with Wilson. I believe he's probably the fourth-best receiver on the team right now behind Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery and Junior Hemingway. With more playing time and experience (and some luck), it would not surprise me if Wilson's role increases by 2015. He has good speed and excellent hands with the ability to cut without losing much acceleration.