Virginia Tech Hokies running back David Wilson is one of the more underrated players in the NFL Draft, and he is the second best back in this draft behind Trent Richardson. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are picking fifth in the draft in the first round, and they are best off picking elite, shutdown cornerback Morris Claiborne in that spot. Trent Richardson is a terrific running back and will be a star, but running backs are not as important in this league as corners. The Bucs can pick their shutdown corner with the fifth pick, and they can take a look at adding this guy in the second round.
Most scouts who have taken a look at David Wilson and have written up reports on him view him as the second best back in this class and have him going in the second round. In fact, a few analysts believe that Wilson would be a good target for the Bucs. He is just 5’10″ and is best used as a part of the rotation, and that’s exactly the situation he would fall into in Tampa. The team desperately needs a No. 2 back behind LeGarrette Blount, and Wilson can be that guy.
He may not be physical enough to be an every-down back in the NFL, but David Wilson more than makes up for that with speed that his off-the-charts. His game speed is insane, and he has been clocked in the low 4.30s in the forty yard dash. This is a guy who ran for 1,709 yards in a breakout season as a junior last year, and he also put himself on the map as a good receiver out of the backfield by hauling in 39 passes.
In college, Wilson averaged just under six yards per carry last season and possesses some elite moves in the open field. He can juke defenders with ease, is one of the top backs in the draft in terms of vision, and his acceleration cannot be praised enough. Just watch his college tape with the Hokies, David Wilson can run past anyone.
What I love about Wilson is that he is always looking to churn out extra yardage and has the type of explosion that makes you fall in love with this guy. He can beat you inside and outside, and Wilson didn’t take any damage during his college days; he’s young, fresh, and ready for the NFL.
It doesn’t stop there for the former Virginia Tech back, because he has a ton of upside with his ability to return kicks and catch passes. He also has great work ethic and attitude, so he’s like a better, stronger version of LaMichael James.
The problems with David Wilson are that he is a terrible blocker, he fumbles far too much, and he isn’t the biggest or most physical guy out there. Those concerns mean that he can’t be a feature back, but his skills- incredible speed, acceleration, agility, and good pass-catching-mean that he will most likely be a very good No. 2 option.
Consistently running the ball for yardage is somewhat of a problem for Wilson, because he runs for negative yardage due to indecisiveness. However, he is a home-run threat and production on a per-carry basis isn’t a concern. Consistently getting five yards a carry is more of a feature back issue, and the Bucs- or any smart team for that matter- won’t have to worry about that by implementing him behind another RB.
The size issue is a bit overstated with Wilson, because he did bulk up more before his junior year which helped lead to a breakout. He will never have “good” power, and the trick for him is to bulk up without losing that precious speed we always rave about. He is strong enough to hold up in the NFL, but I’m not comfortable with saying that he is strong enough to carry the rock 20 times each game.
The 4.49 run at the combine was an anomaly, as David Wilson once led the team with a 4.29 forty time in winter conditioning at Virginia Tech. There’s a reason why combine numbers are very misleading, and this is one of those cases. Hopefully, nobody puts too much stock into that and takes a look at his college tape.
Some of Wilson’s deficiencies were hidden in college, such as running between the tackles. He fared out well enough in that respect in college, but his surprising inability to hit the hole with conviction and to quickly decide which hole to go through could cost him in the pros. However, David Wilson is extremely coachable and should correct that.
Lamar Miller, Doug Martin, and David Wilson are the three running backs who are viewed as guys who are all worthy of early second round picks, with scouts divided on all three. Wilson is the most underrated of the three, Martin is rising, and Miller is falling off of some draft boards. I will try to get a scouting report done on Martin, but Wilson is an intriguing candidate for the Bucs in the second round. Martin is a safer bet than Wilson, but Wilson has more upside, especially if he can quickly mitigate those ball security issues.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.