Las Vegas Raiders’ first-round pick Tyree Wilson has had a bit of a rough start to his NFL career. The seventh overall pick was already recovering from injury when he was drafted and missed much of the offseason regiment. He then got thrust into a more prominent position than expected to start the season following the team’s release of Chandler Jones.
Wilson hasn’t seen the results in terms of numbers just yet as he has totaled just 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 12 games for the Raiders so far. But that doesn’t mean progress isn’t being made.
Raiders defensive line coach Rob Leonard recently spoke with Ezekiel Trezevant IV of Sports Illustrated and the coach admitted that he believes Wilson was humbled initially but has responded extremely well to the challenge:
“[In terms of] development, I think he’s been, to be honest with you, he was humbled a little bit early,” Leonard said. “He really responded in the right way, controlling what he can and stuff like that.
“Everybody has expectations going into this league and how they envisioned themselves. Then, reality can be a little bit different in this league, making the jump from college.”
Leonard would add that physical gifts aren’t enough to get you by in the NFL, but Wilson’s attitude and work ethic have been excellent as he continues to learn and make that adjustment from college:
“[In college] they walk on the field, they look a certain way, they just run past different players because they can,” Leonard said. “When you get to the NFL, it’s the best versus the best. It’s your technique versus his technique.
“There’s a process to that, to how to deal with grown men and being blocked in this league. He’s been awesome in terms of his attitude and not focusing on the results that everybody wants to see but just staying at it. He’s been great.”
Wilson was always viewed as a bit more of a project than a ready-made NFL player. He was supposed to be able to take some time to learn from Jones and, of course, Maxx Crosby during this year, but plans changed, and he and the Raiders have had to make adjustments.
Many will focus on the numbers and feel that he has been a failure, but the Raiders coaches who are working with him every day see the effort he is putting in, and eventually, it will begin to pay off.