It is a well known fact that this is one of the deepest cornerback classes in recent memory. In my latest big board, I had 13 corners in the top 100. So yeah, its a fairly impressive positional group. Perhaps the least appreciated of all these cornerbacks is Houston’s Howard Wilson.
Playing in William Jackson’s shadow as a true freshman, Wilson impressed with 27 tackles and 3 interceptions in only 3 starts. So, naturally, expectations were very high for the duo going into Wilson’s true sophomore year. Unfortunately, Wilson suffered a torn ACL in Houston’s third game of the season against Texas State, ending his season. He was awarded a medical redshirt and returned this past season as a redshirt Sophomore.
With Jackson heading to the NFL as a first round pick, Wilson emerged as Houston’s best all around corner. He tallied 54 tackles, 10 pass deflections, and 5 interceptions including a game against Cincinnati where he had 8 tackles and 2 interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He was also named All-AAC First Team for the breakout season he had.
Perhaps the main reason why Wilson isn’t being talked about enough is because of he shockingly declared for the draft this past season. Wilson certainly could have benefitted from another year or two at Houston but overall, he possesses the intangibles and traits to be a potential first round pick this April.
Name: Howard Wilson
Size: 6’1”/ 184 lbs/ 31 3/8 Arm Length
Class: SO (RS)
Comparison: Logan Ryan
Draft Grade: 2nd Round
Combine Results: 40 time: 4.57 seconds, Vertical: 33.5”, Broad: 119”, 3 Cone Drill: 6.68 seconds, 20 yard shuttle: 3.94 seconds
Strengths: Very fluid movement skills, excellent at flipping his hips to turn and run with receivers. Talented zone corner, diagnoses plays in front of him and breaks on the ball very well. Incredible closing speed out of his breaks, really limits receiver’s run after catch ability. Really at his best in cover three zone concepts but very capable man corner as well. Ball skills are a plus, attacks the ball at its highest point and has good enough hands to make a play. Willingness and aggression in the run game is rare in this draft class, loves to throw his body around. Short area quickness and footwork are well above average. Has the movement skills and mindset to match up with bigger receivers at the next level.
Weaknesses: Not the biggest corner, fairly underweight for a 6’1” guy. This combined with his aggressive style could lead to injuries at the next level. Not a very good form tackler, drops his head and lunges too often at ball carriers. Overaggressive in coverage at times, this leaves him susceptible to being beat by double moves and head fakes. Struggles in press man where he has to be physical with receivers, doesn’t use his hands nearly as much as he should. Lacks the long speed to stay with receivers in one on one coverage down the field, will need a safety over the top in man to be most effective.
Overview: Howard Wilson may not be the biggest or the strongest corner in this draft but he makes up for that with excellent ball skills and rare movement skills. His ability to flip his hips effortlessly and his ability to explode out of his backpedal and attack plays in front of him are among the best in the class. Wilson would likely struggle in a defense that relies mostly on man coverage as his lack of long speed and overaggressive nature would likely expose him. He would have the most success in the NFL in cover 3 dependent schemes that allow him to see and attack the ball. Teams like Seattle, Carolina, Washington, and Pittsburgh would be very preferred destinations for Wilson’s skills.