Good evening, Addicts. With the fresh batch of football back under me from the first week of preseason, my excitement for this upcoming year has skyrocketed. Not only were we able to pull out a win, but I saw flashes of good play from the entire roster. Granted, it wasn’t perfect, but it was the first preseason game of the year, and mistakes are expected. Some players shined and increased their stock, while others faltered and saw their hopes of making it through cuts begin to slip away.
One player in particular who impressed was Albert Wilson. Now considered a lock to make the final 53 man roster, Wilson came to the Chiefs by way of Georgia State as an undrafted free agent. The 5 foot, 9 inch Wilson was a 1st team All Sun-Belt receiver, as well as being named an Honorable Mention All-American through SI.com. After a strong performance in both the return game and as a receiver in the preseason game against the Bengals, everyone had Albert Wilson penciled in somewhere on the receiver depth chart to make the cut. While Peter King has publicly said that Wilson will make the final cuts, not much else has been said regarding his play.
I’m here to change that.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the first preseason game for me was to see how our special teams fared, specifically the returners. I’ll be honest, I wanted to see DAT on the field, making plays. I knew Knile Davis was a solid returner (when he can hang onto the ball), but after a good showing in Week 17 last year and the Wild Card game, I wasn’t sure if his role would increase. Since I was ready to see DAT in the NFL, Albert Wilson came as a disappointment on his first return. He didn’t fumble the ball or trip over his own feet, but nothing about that first return had me saying, “Wow. That’s a guy to look out for, I want to see him touch the ball more.” As soon as he got his second touch of the game, my perspective completely flipped.
While not taking his second kick return all the way to the house, there was plenty to be excited about as Chiefs fans. First off, it was a big play, and a momentum swinger. Also, the blocking by the return unit was solid, much like we came to expect last year under the leadership of Dave Toub. However, someone had to follow the holes, and Albert Wilson did more than that. Not only did he read the blocks correctly and score a solid return, the cuts he made on the return were crisp and quick, and combined with his top end speed were just impressive. While people have given credit where credit is due, that return was obviously overshadowed by the DAT show, and has sort of fallen out of fans memories.
Besides his solid play on special teams, Wilson showed that he can handle his own on the offensive side of the ball as well. Lining up everywhere as a receiver, he made plays that won’t get him on Sportscenter, but are the types of plays needed to help your team win games. While on the short side at 5 foot 9, Wilson weighs around 200 pounds and is built somewhat stocky. One of his first plays lining up wide was a run to Knile Davis, and at the end of the run Wilson was 10+ yards downfield locking onto his man and driving. Receiver blocking is a huge aspect of the run game, and one that typically goes unnoticed. After that, he finished the game with three catches for 25 yards. Not eye popping stats, until you examine the catches themselves.
On the first catch, a quick out in the flats, Wilson takes a big hit from the safety who was in coverage against him and hangs onto the ball. He caught the pass out in front of his body, with his hands, which is a great sign for any receiver.
The second catch was my favorite play from him, including the kick return. Wilson ran a simple hitch route and caught the pass cleanly. The play was an 11 yard gain, and good enough for a first down. The route that Wilson ran, however, was only a 7 or 8 yard hitch. Those last 3-4 yards all came off a hustle play, as Wilson put his head down and dove forward to make sure we got the first down. Again, this is a minute detail, but the fact that he had the prescence of mind in his first game to not only turn up field but also the field awareness to dive for the first down was a positive sign, and showed off his hardworking mentality.
Finally, his third catch came on a comeback route on the right side of the field. The ball was a little underthrown, and Wilson was able to make the adjustment and get his arms under the ball to bring it in. Although it was a catch that should be expected of receivers to make, he did make the catch, and that is something that I was watching specifically for out of all of the receivers.
Andy Reid’s offensive scheme likes fast players. That’s a given, and is exemplified by the amount of touches and how utilized in general Jamaal Charles is. In Philidelphia, Reid was able to utilize Jeremy Maclin frequently at the receiver position. While three inches shorter, Albert Wilson shows flashes of that same playmaking ability as Jeremy Maclin. While Wilson is more a returner than Maclin, they both are shorter receivers with speed, who can make plays both with the ball and without it. Wilson very well may not bring in the same numbers as Maclin at the receiver position, but he will bring his playmaking ability week in and week out. Some of the most dangerous weapons are the unknown ones, and Albert Wilson could shock some teams come time for the regular season.
Sound off, Addicts. Any thoughts on Wilson, or any other playmaker that might be going unnoticed on our roster? Comment below, and Go Chiefs!