2014’s Most Underrated: Albert Wilson

120113 gsu football HS26Unless you watched the combine closely you have probably never heard of Georgia State WR Albert Wilson. Georgia State went 0-12 this year. That’s probably another reason you’ve never heard of Albert Wilson.

Well, here’s your introduction.

Albert Wilson measured in at 5’9 202 lbs., feasted on the combine, and no one is even mentioning his name. Brandin Cooks had a great combine and deserves every bit of attention he’s getting, but Wilson was right on his tail.  Over the past year or so we have seen some pretty productive slot WRs under 6’0. These WRs may not be fantasy studs, but they’re certainly fantasy relevant. Randall Cobb, Kendall Wright, and T.Y. Hilton are all almost every week starters, and all come in at 5’10. Would you be interested if I told you you could get a player of the same talent level as the 3 I named above and not even have to spend a rookie dynasty pick on him? Here’s how Wilson’s combine numbers and college production look next to the 3 slot WRs, Cobb, Wright, and Hilton:

 Rookie AgeHeightWeight40 TimeVertBroad Jump3 ConeShort ShuttleDR
Randall Cobb21.3701914.4633.51157.084.3428
T.Y. Hilton23.1701834.3435.51197.034.3642
Kendall Wright23.1701964.6138.51216.934.1836
Albert Wilson22.5692024.4337.512374.2141.5

All 4 WRs are closely bunched together. Height is the only category where Wilson is trumped by the other 3 players. We know weight plays a large, and underrated role in WR success. Wilson is the only WR over 200. Only T.Y. Hilton is faster than Wilson. Only Wright has a higher vertical jump than Wilson. Wilson has the longest broad jump. Wright is the only player with a faster 3-cone and 20 yard shuttle time than Wilson. Most importantly, Wilson had great college production his senior year, which was only out done by Hilton.

Wilson actually has the same Height Adjusted Speed Score as Hilton (94) and tops Cobb (86) and Wright (80). Wilson also has the highest Explosion Score (160.5) of our WR group. As far as Agility Score (3-cone+short shuttle) is concerned, Wilson is second to only Kendall Wright. The bottom line is that not only is Wilson just as physically gifted as the WRs we pitted him against, but he also has the college production to prove he’s not just a workout warrior.

Unfortunately for Wilson, smaller WRs who are best fit for the slot have a value much more dependent on the team they’re on than outside WRs. Cobb and Hilton were pretty lucky to be drafted by teams with good QBs. Wright is not in the greatest situation, which is probably hurting his fantasy value quite a bit even though he has still been productive.

After a fairly lengthy internet search I couldn’t find a single site that listed Wilson as a draft-able prospect. Although that might seem like bad news, it’s actually not. Darren Page (@DarrenPage15) recently released a study taking a look at what round of the draft NFL teams usually found successful slot receivers in. Using data from 2008-2013, Page set a criteria that rewarded slot WRs for high catch rates, being a large part of their team’s passing game, picking up yards after the catch, and making big plays. He found that 23% of all very successful slot receivers since 2008 went undrafted. In fact, 15% of the same group were drafted in the 7th round, which was the 2nd highest percentage. That means even if Wilson sneaks into the 7th round of the NFL draft that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Fans of Wilson should hope he doesn’t land in the 5th (2%) or 6th (1%) rounds.

Here are four teams who would be good fits for Wilson:

Detroit Lions – The chances of Detroit drafting a WR in the early rounds to go alongside Calvin seem pretty high. If the Lions drafted Mike Evans at pick 10 and signed Wilson as an UDFA that offense could take off.

Atlanta Falcons – Wilson working the slot with a healthy Julio Jones, Roddy White, and a serviceable Matt Ryan could be scary. The targets Tony Gonzalez saw last year have to go somewhere.

Denver Broncos – Wes Welker‘s contract is up after 2014. Wilson could slide right into his role.

Arizona Cardinals – Fitzgerald is likely towards the end of his career, but Michael Floyd looks ready to inherit the #1 WR role. The QB situation is shaky, but let’s not forget Bruce Arians made T.Y. Hilton a focal point in Indy with only Reggie Wayne by his side.

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