NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Wake Forest DE/OLB Kyle Wilber
|03.27.12 at 9:57 am ET|
WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2012 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.
Position: Outside linebacker/defensive end
School: Wake Forest
Weight: 249 pounds
Achievements: Phil Steele third-team All-ACC (2010), College Football News All-America Freshman Team honorable mention
What he brings: A tenacious defender who is great in pursuit, Wilber showcased his versatility while switching from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker at Wake Forest as the team changed defensive philosophies. Due to his size, Wilber will most likely be valued higher by teams that would plug him into a 3-4, where his speed and long frame can best be utilized.
As an edge rusher, Wilber has a lot going for him in terms of his length, quickness and tenacity. With a quick burst and good use of leverage, Wilber can be a solid speed rush guy, but he has to avoid getting washed behind quarterbacks by quicker tackles. Against the run, Wilber shows great range in run support, works well in space on the outside and shoots gaps well to get penetration. However, he is limited when taking on blockers at the point of attack and could be susceptible to teams running at him.
Wilber is functional enough in coverage, especially as a player who didn’t start playing linebacker until halfway through his college career. Wilber has received solid reviews in his zone coverage, where his speed translates quite well. However, he should not be asked to do too much in man coverage right away, especially against receivers and athletic tight ends.
Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 4-5
Notes: Wilber is a long way from being a three-down defender in the NFL, but he has the potential to contribute quickly in the right subpackages. Against more open formations, Wilber’s speed and pursuit will suit him well against spread teams. Against more smashmouth teams, though, Wilber is at a disadvantage.
Wilber’s greatest knock is his strength, which, combined with his light frame, severely limits his potential as a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. Teams likely will wait to improve his strength and add weight to his frame before they try to use him on earlier downs. Wilber could easily add 10 pounds to his frame without losing much in terms of quickness. If he were to bulk up and improve his strength, Wilber has the potential down the road to move into a role similar to that of Mark Anderson this past season.
Video: Here’s a highlight package of Wilber playing in Wake Forest’s 2011 matchup against NC State.