Home > Illinois football > Former Illini Martez Wilson expects to hear his name called “as early as possible” in NFL Draft

Former Illini Martez Wilson expects to hear his name called “as early as possible” in NFL Draft

CHICAGO– NFL teams and analysts are still trying to pinpoint exactly where Martez Wilson will line up on Sundays.

Some think the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Chicago native that runs like a wide receiver is best roaming at outside linebacker or rushing the passer off the edge in a 3-4 defensive alignment. Others think he found his niche last season as the Illinois middle linebacker where he had his best collegiate season, collecting 112 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss.

Wilson doesn’t seem to care where he plays. When asked jokingly if he could see himself lining up at safety, Wilson answered as if it was a challenge.

“That’d be nice too. I think I can do it, honestly,” Wilson said Monday on the “Tay and J Show” on ConnectFM. “With some practice and repetition, I think I can have that position down pat.”

Wilson has risen up draft boards since entering the draft in January. He impressed scouts at the NFL Combine – he ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash – and team workouts. ESPN Scouts Inc. ranks Wilson as the fourth-best linebacker in the draft and the 59th overall prospect. DraftCountdown.com analyst Scott Wright lists Wilson as the top inside linebacker in the field.

Most mock drafts slate Wilson in the second round with some saying he’s a first-round possibility.

Wilson will watch the draft at his parents’ home in Chicago. He hopes to hear his name called Thursday night, when the first round will air. The second and third rounds air Friday night followed by the fourth through seventh rounds on Saturday.

“We just expect my name to be called as early as possible,” Wilson said. “We just anticipate it.”

While there’s plenty of love for Wilson, the draft process usually is equally harsh on prospects. The same analysts that praise Wilson’s athleticism and size question his instincts, his ability to change directions and his toughness. Wright calls him a “better athlete than football player.”

Wilson, um, disagrees with that statement.

“I don’t know how you can say that, be more of an athlete than a football player,” Wilson said. “I think I’m a good football player. I think my room for improvement is great. I’m going to improve every year, but I just use it as motivation. I don’t let it bring me down at all. I use it as something to fuel off of.”

By the time he goes to bed Friday, Wilson should know where he’ll be playing professional football and where he can start to disprove his critics – even if he doesn’t know exactly where he’ll be lining up on the field.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to see me playing linebacker, doing a different variety of things,” Wilson said.

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