The New England Patriots made several trades this offseason. The one to kick things off, though, saw former Cleveland Browns linebacker Mack Wilson come aboard in exchange for Chase Winovich in mid-March.
Wilson started his career in promising fashion, earning a starting role in Cleveland despite his status as a fifth-round selection in the 2019 draft. Through the years, however, his opportunities decreased until he was finally made available for trade.
Entering his fourth season in the league, he is therefore now trying to get back on track — and the Patriots are certainly willing to give him any chance to do just that.
Early on in training camp, after all, Wilson has seen extensive action on defense and in the kicking game, at one point even working as the backup long snapper. For the 24-year-old, it is simply just doing whatever he is asked to do.
“I just feel like I can do whatever,” he told reporters earlier in camp.
While he might ultimately become a five-unit special teamer, his responsibilities on defense are the most noteworthy at the moment. A lot can and will still change between now and the start of the regular season in early September, but Wilson is a top-three player at the off-the-ball linebacker position alongside Ja’Whaun Bentley and Raekwon McMillan right now.
He looked good as a run defender as well, particularly on Tuesday, but his primary role might just be centered around the passing game. New England struggled in this area last season, but Wilson’s athleticism and range should put him in a position to find success in such a role.
“It’s just how the NFL is now, it’s a lot of passing situations,” he said about defending the pass from the linebacker position. “You may run into a team that plays that smash-mouth, physical, run-the-ball football, but you have to be prepared for both. I just feel like passing the ball is super big in today’s NFL, so you have to take that importance seriously.
“Back in the day it was bigger linebackers and things like that. Now you see smaller linebackers. Some teams want faster linebackers, some teams want fast scat running backs. It’s changed a little bit. But honestly you just have to execute and do your job a the end of the day, no matter how much you weigh, no matter how fast you are.”
Not even five months into his Patriots tenure, it appears Wilson has fared well in the “do your job” department. On Wednesday, after all, head coach Bill Belichick was quite complimentary of the fourth-year defender and what he brought to the organization thus far.
“Mack’s done a good job for us,” Belichick said. “Came in in the spring, was really an outstanding worker all spring. Learning some different things that we do here, but he’s adapted well. He’s been productive on defense and in the kicking game so far. Looking forward to seeing him out there.”
If the first few practices of camp are any indication, Wilson will be “out there” quite a lot. That’s just how he wants it, no matter in which capacity.