School: Virginia Tech
40-yard dash: 4.49 at the combine. He said he was clocked at 4.35 and 4.44 at Virginia Tech’s Pro Day. He’s run as fast as a 4.29, according to Virginia Tech stats.
Hometown: Danville, Va.
Key stats: He’s a banger with some elusiveness. He broke 150 yards and gained more than 1,000 yards after contact last season.
Here’s the next installment of the DRAFT SPOTLIGHT feature, which we’ll run periodically up to the NFL draft April 26-28 in New York.
The Falcons pick with the 55th pick in the second round. They also have picks in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. The first round will be held on Thursday, rounds two and three on Friday and rounds four through seven on Saturday.
Wilson is considered the second best running back in the draft after Alabama’s Trent Richardson.
The ACC player of the year was projected as a second round pick by the NFL draft advisory board.
He rushed for 1,709 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He ran for a career-high 175 yards on 23 carries in a 37-26 victory over Georgia Tech on Nov. 10.
Running back Michael Turner is set to enter the last year of his contract. The Falcons have relied heavily on Turner and while Jacquizz Rodgers has a promising future, he’ll likely have to remain a part of a committee whenever Turner is done.
Here’s a Q&A with Wilson:
Q: Why did you leave school early?
A: Coming out of high school, I thought it’d be real easy to make the decision. But after getting to college and making friends and establishing relationships with teammates and coaches and actually having a second home now, it made it a little bit harder. But at the end of the day, I had to do what was the best for me.
Q: What’s your favorite touchdown celebration?
A: They like the rewind a lot because it was unique. But I think if anyone thinks about it long enough, they can do the rewind, so I guess I take the most pride in the backflips.
Q: How was your transition to college football?
A: Coming out of high school I thought it would be easy to do because this is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life. Since I was 6 or 7 years old, I wanted to play in the NFL, or play football at least. I’m just blessed to be here. Scouts have me ranked pretty high. It’s right in front of me just to grab it, take advantage here at the combine, just up my stock and perform at my pro day.
Q: How do you explain your ability to break tackles?
A: Coming out of high school, I was way faster than everybody, stronger than most of my tacklers. It got kind of came easy to a point. But coming to college, everybody’s good. Everybody’s an athlete, so you have to put more strategy into how you run the ball, and I think that’s where I mostly improved: strategizing and setting up my defenders so I could make them miss in the open field and break arm tackles.
Q: Would you mind playing on special teams?
A: My sophomore year, I had two key kick returns for touchdowns. Last year, I was a return man. Ever since I came to Tech I was a return man. I returned kicks in high school also. I’m very comfortable being back there catching kicks, and I think that’s an asset I bring because not all the backs in the draft return kicks.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog