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Is Mack Wilson our starter at Linebacker in 2022?

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Do you expect Mack Wilson to start for the Patriots this year?

  • Yes

    Votes: 26 81.3%
  • No

    Votes: 6 18.8%

  • Total voters
    32
  • Poll closed .

VJCPatriot

Pro Bowl Player
So one of the big things that didn't happen in the draft - the Patriots didn't take a single linebacker. So to me that signals, they believe the answer is already on the roster.

A few weeks ago the Patriots traded Chase Winovich for Mack Wilson. So who is this guy? Just a 5th round linebacker from Alabama.

But when you look at this numbers, you begin to think, wait a minute, are the Patriots counting on Mack Wilson to hold down one of the starting linebacker spots?

Let's start with this size - at 6'1 240 lbs, Mack Wilson isn't the usual 'big thumper' type that BB loves to run in his defenses. In the 2019 draft, Mack Wilson was projected as high as round 2 but fell to round 5. Was it because of his pedestrian 4.71 40 time?

But if you looked at his rookie season in Cleveland, he put up pretty good numbers for a first year player: 86 combined tackles, 7 pass deflections, 4 TFLs, 1 INT, 1 FF, and 1 sack in 14 games started.

But starting in year 2 and 3, his snaps and games started declined, as did his numbers. What explains this? Who knows. Was Cleveland moving away from an older system and Mack Wilson no longer fit their plans? Or did he suffer from nagging injuries that didn't allow him to play 100%?

If there's one thing BB excels in its reclamation projects. Most notably in 2016 the Pats sent a 6th round pick to Detroit for Kyle Van Noy. He became a staple player of the Pats defense for the next 4 years.

What does Mack Wilson offer that our previous linebackers didn't? Well he makes plays in the passing game for one. 7 pass deflections shows that he knows how to get his hands on the ball in the passing lanes. If he can continue to improve as a player, and he's only 24 at the time of the trade, Mack Wilson might be a guy BB has penciled in as his 'new generation' of linebacker. A lighter smaller guy who could possibly make some plays sideline to sideline as well as in the passing game. And considering where he went to school there's always that Alabama connection.

Am I reading too much into this, or does the Patriots not drafting a single linebacker mean they think they already have the answer for the position, and is that answer Mack Wilson? Thoughts or alternative answers?

The 2019 scouting report on Mack Wilson.
 

signbabybrady

Pro Bowl Player
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Bentley, Uche, and Wilson are a decent start to the position. Then factor in Peppers and the other safeties who will play significantly at LB/in the box. And the position isn't that thin.

Not to mention a few prospects who we haven't seen much of yet in McGrone, Perkins, Raekwon, Jennings, and Hall hopefully we find someone in this group.

Also Langi who I think of more as STer but still in the mix.

There's a lot of bodies at the position and short of going LB in Rd 1 or 2 I'm not sure what a later Rd pick would offer that someone in this group doesn't already. Not the most top heavy group but a lot to try and develop this spring and summer already.
 

MAC10

Big Mac Jones fan
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Bentley, Uche, and Wilson are a decent start to the position. Then factor in Peppers and the other safeties who will play significantly at LB/in the box. And the position isn't that thin.

Not to mention a few prospects who we haven't seen much of yet in McGrone, Perkins, Raekwon, Jennings, and Hall hopefully we find someone in this group.

Also Langi who I think of more as STer but still in the mix.

There's a lot of bodies at the position and short of going LB in Rd 1 or 2 I'm not sure what a later Rd pick would offer that someone in this group doesn't already. Not the most top heavy group but a lot to try and develop this spring and summer already.

You're forgetting Judon.

Wilson is our Hightower replacement. He reminds me of HT, but much more athletic. Judon, Wilson, Uche/Bentley will be the starting 3. If they decide to bring Peppers in at LB, then it'll be Judon, Wilson, and Peppers, which would be an outstanding linebacking unit.
 

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Bentley, Uche, and Wilson are a decent start to the position. Then factor in Peppers and the other safeties who will play significantly at LB/in the box. And the position isn't that thin.

Not to mention a few prospects who we haven't seen much of yet in McGrone, Perkins, Raekwon, Jennings, and Hall hopefully we find someone in this group.

Also Langi who I think of more as STer but still in the mix.

Good summary (add Judon), especially your second graph -- I've been thinking the same thing all along. People here were up in arms over not drafting a LB while forgetting about multiple young unproven guys already on the roster. Plus, as you point out, the likelihood of safeties used situationally in hybrid roles.
 

Sicilian

Pro Bowl Player
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I don't think we have anyone who's going to be like prime Hightower (speaking of his role, not his style) this year. No one is going to be an 80%+ snap guy at the position I don't think. If you're counting edge players, then Judon should, but if we're talking ILB/MLB types, I think we're going to see a heavy rotation between Bentley, whoever wins the most looks from the group of Wilson, McGrone, and MacMillan, and then an extra safety on passing downs rather than the extra LB. Bentley is our most experienced guy in this system, but given his limitations I would be very surprised if any LB topped 60% of the snaps overall for the season.
 

JMC00

Pro Bowl Player
McMillan probably is. They saw him in camp last year and apparently he was looking the part. They also probably are high on McGrone who you can basically consider a LB pick for this year since Belichick ane Groh have said he was viewed as pick for 2022 but actually has a year of learning the playbook

Although I think it's basically a camp battle for how it shakes out. If Wilson comes in and shows what he showed his rookie year then maybe. Doesn't seem like Joe Woods used him right whereas Steve Wilkes did.
 

signbabybrady

Pro Bowl Player
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Good summary (add Judon), especially your second graph -- I've been thinking the same thing all along. People here were up in arms over not drafting a LB while forgetting about multiple young unproven guys already on the roster. Plus, as you point out, the likelihood of safeties used situationally in hybrid roles.
I get mixed up sometimes between DE/Edge/OLB. I always call Judon DE.
 

Bill Lee

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If there's one thing BB excels in its reclamation projects. Most notably in 2016 the Pats sent a 6th round pick to Detroit for Kyle Van Noy. He became a staple player of the Pats defense for the next 4 years.
Vrabel also was on a bad career trajectory before coming here. He wasn't a starter in PIT and they didn't sign him to a second deal. His stats jump once he gets here: Mike Vrabel - Wikipedia
 

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I get mixed up sometimes between DE/Edge/OLB. I always call Judon DE.

Yeah, apparently the fashionable term for an OLB who often lines up on the line of scrimmage is "edge." I usually figure if a guy has his hand down at the LOS he's a lineman but that's not always the case so there's really no firm label or definition.
 

farn

Pro Bowl Player

RobertWeathers

Author of the Port Huron Statement
I get mixed up sometimes between DE/Edge/OLB. I always call Judon DE.
Judon basically is a DE.

It's been overlooked but he was incredibly undisciplined vs the run. Bad at containment, setting the edge, etc. Part of it was risk vs reward. Create pressure or contain a running QB

If they can add Trey Flowers to the other side that will be huge but not sure they will as Wise is being paid pretty well.

I don't see more than 2 true LBs on the field at one time. Dugger, Phillips and Peppers are going to play a ton (assuming Peppers is fully recovered and not on any playing time restrictions).
 

40yrpatsfan

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Wilson looked good on the video going around after the trade. He covers a lot of ground and I didn't realize he's 240. He's the key guy to fixing our LB group, but there's also Peppers and then the promising group of Uche, McGrone, Perkins, and McMillan who all could be very good. We're actually pretty loaded at LB.
 

RobertWeathers

Author of the Port Huron Statement
Wilson looked good on the video going around after the trade. He covers a lot of ground and I didn't realize he's 240. He's the key guy to fixing our LB group, but there's also Peppers and then the promising group of Uche, McGrone, Perkins, and McMillan who all could be very good. We're actually pretty loaded at LB.
Loaded may not be the word I would use but this group is significantly faster in space and sideline to sideline than the High, Collins, KVN and Bentley crowd.

Uche needs to stay on the field. The guy looked like Andre Tippett in TC and evolved into Monty Beisel during the year.
 

Wozzy

In the Starting Line-Up
I think guys like Raekwon McMillian and Mack Wilson are there not because they're superior athletes but because they are smart. Both guys played at big college programs, in the middle of good smart defenses and had a lot of talent around them. Despite being average athletes they were cerebral enough to understand the defense and wear the green dot on their helmets. So why are they here...?

Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings and Cameron McGrone are the X factors in the linebacker room. These guys have talent, but have rarely seen the field, they had what amounts to a redshirt learning experience behind vets like Van Noy, Collins and Hightower. Now they need to contribute or this LB room will be questionable. McMillian and Wilson can show them how, even if they can't necessarily do it at a really high level. If the kids can't grasp it or make it in the pros, those two guys will at least provide a median level of performance.

I think the Pats also plan to play a lot of 3 and 4 strong safety sets, using SS's in place of traditional weak side LB'ers. That room is stacked... Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips, Jabrill Peppers, Cody Davis, JoeJuan Williams, Brenden Schooler, Joshuah Bledsoe... these guys play special teams but I expect a lot of zone coverages so expect a lot of SS's on the field in lieu of LB'ers.

This is how my LB depth chart stacks them and who gets cut:

SLB (2) – Matthew Judon, Anfernee Jennings, Ronnie Perkins,
MLB (3) – Ja’Whaun Bentley, Josh Uche, LaRoy Reynolds, Harvey Langi, Jahlani Tavai
WLB (3) – Mack Wilson, Raekwon McMillan, Cameron McGrone, Terez Hall (PS),

It's not a great room unless the kid's perform, it's the biggest question mark on the team IMO. If the kids show up this defense should be pretty good health provided.
 

Rob0729

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If Wilson can return to his rookie season form, he will be an upgrade at the position. Of course that is an if at this point.
 

PowerRunRevival

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
Yeah, apparently the fashionable term for an OLB who often lines up on the line of scrimmage is "edge." I usually figure if a guy has his hand down at the LOS he's a lineman but that's not always the case so there's really no firm label or definition.
In my opinion any player that lines up with their hand down in a four man front is a defensive end. An edge on a three man front is an OLB. The Pats haven't played a 3-4 in a while so I would say Judon, Uche, Perkins and Jennings are defensive ends. When the Pats are playing against the run they sometimes will go with Wise at defensive end opposite Judon, but in those sets we are unlikely to see the other edges on the field at the same time.

I think the starters at linebacker will be Wilson and Bentley. Then in passing situations Bentley will come out and be replaced by Peppers.
 

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In my opinion any player that lines up with their hand down in a four man front is a defensive end. An edge on a three man front is an OLB. The Pats haven't played a 3-4 in a while so I would say Judon, Uche, Perkins and Jennings are defensive ends. When the Pats are playing against the run they sometimes will go with Wise at defensive end opposite Judon, but in those sets we are unlikely to see the other edges on the field at the same time.

I think the starters at linebacker will be Wilson and Bentley. Then in passing situations Bentley will come out and be replaced by Peppers.

Yeah, but don't Judon/Uche/Perkins/Jennings also at times drop off into pass coverage? I guess none of this pigeonholing really matters.
 

PowerRunRevival

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
Yeah, but don't Judon/Uche/Perkins/Jennings also at times drop off into pass coverage?
I'd consider that an end dropping into coverage, in the same way that Bentley is still a middle linebacker even if he is rushing the passer via blitz.

This is all completely semantics and doesn't really matter, that's just how I see defensive end positions. Things have definitely been muddied with how sub packages are actually the base at this point. When I learned about football teams would come out in 3-4 and 4-3 and play in those formations for the majority of the game, now we really only see those "base" positional groupings when teams expect a run.
 

jdlboot14

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
SLB (2) – Matthew Judon, Anfernee Jennings, Ronnie Perkins,
MLB (3) – Ja’Whaun Bentley, Josh Uche, LaRoy Reynolds, Harvey Langi, Jahlani Tavai
WLB (3) – Mack Wilson, Raekwon McMillan, Cameron McGrone, Terez Hall (PS),
I could see Perkins unseating Jennings easily - just because Jennings has had an extra year to prove value, and hasn't
I think UDFA Mitchell looks capable of ousting Uche, or at least making the team over a couple of these guys. He's an edge guy though
There seems to be plenty of capable LB's where we don't have to have ST-only LB's like Reynolds/Langi on the 53.
 

Wozzy

In the Starting Line-Up
I could see Perkins unseating Jennings easily - just because Jennings has had an extra year to prove value, and hasn't
I think UDFA Mitchell looks capable of ousting Uche, or at least making the team over a couple of these guys. He's an edge guy though
There seems to be plenty of capable LB's where we don't have to have ST-only LB's like Reynolds/Langi on the 53.
I can't see Perkins doing much. He's not athletic enough to play LB, he's not strong or powerful enough to play DE. I just don't see it, he might have some innate football IQ or knowledge and I could be wrong but think he was a bad draft pick. He's just not a good athlete.

Jennings had a serious injury in college but stayed healthy his final year at Alabama and led them in sacks and Tackle's For a Loss. He is talented, he had a year off (redshirt year) last season to get his body right... now he either shows up or he's doesn't, but the potential is there. The Pats could have stolen a player there if he can stay healthy. If not for injury he would have been a first round pick out of Alabama. He's an athletic stud with injury concerns.

I don't see Mitchell making it, he's more 3/4 DE than LB for sure but he's weak and not very athletic. If we want a potential player to make it at DE next to Wise or Cowart, the guy I potentially see making it is Sam Roberts. Even though he didn't workout fully he had a nice vertical jump, his 25 bench reps don't make him strong but he's not weak either and has good length at 6'5". Bottom line is he won the award for the best defensive player in division two. What you want to see at that level of competition is dominance and this kid jumps off the TV screen, he destroys the competition... plays in the opponent's backfield. Also he was a scholar, worked with the elderly off the field... he's a character guy. He might be a diamond in the rough.
 

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