2. Mack Wilson, Linebacker
There has been a lot of hype around second-year linebacker Mack Wilson this offseason — and it’s maybe even a little bit more than he deserves. But he did come in for an injured Christian Kirksey last season after two games and ended second on the team in tackles with 81.
He showed great potential in pass coverage but really lacked in shedding blocks and stopping the run. Although he made a lot of tackles most of them came down the field after a long run or a pass.
Wilson can work out and get stronger which will help but he needs to practice avoiding 300-pound offensive lineman. He’ll get some reps in practice but he really won’t be tested until the regular season starts.
Another thing that could lead to struggles for the Alabama product will be the fact that he’s learning his second defensive system in as many years — and new defensive coordinator Joe Woods has said it will be an open competition at linebacker so we will have to fight to retain his starting role.
Wilson has some formidable competition as well, Cleveland drafted Jacob Phillips in the third round out of LSU. They also signed B.J. Goodson from the Green Bay Packers in free agency and 2019 second-round pick Sione Takitaki will look to have a bounce-back season.
Wilson likely has a leg up on all of these guys because he is the only returning starting linebacker but those players are talented as well. He’ll have to learn fast because they are all on an equal playing field.