Why Marvin Wilson has early round potential

Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson has a lot of athletic upside. He just needs to be more consistent.

Part of his problem might be the team he plays for. Florida State have been bad for a while. Really bad at times. It’s hard to show anything but the occasional flash in that environment. There are some technical flaws though that prevent him really becoming a dominant force.

For starters he’s tall (6-5). When you’re playing exclusively inside at that size you’ve got to master leverage. Too often he plays upright and his pad level means he cedes leverage. He doesn’t control double teams in the way Raekwon Davis did at Alabama. He can get jolted backwards and the very least you expect from a player with this build is to be stout at the POA.

His gap discipline isn’t always great either. That can be blamed on scheme and coaching. You have to commit to it. At Alabama they do (as they do in Seattle). Other teams are happy to play free and fancy — to attack and try to find gaps rather than handling your business. Still, this isn’t something you can assume will be better at the next level.

These are some of the reasons why he possibly didn’t declare for the 2020 draft. I’m not sure what feedback he received from the draft committee but if he’d been given a first round grade — and with FSU going through another raft of changes — you’d think he would’ve turned pro. Especially in a weak year for defensive linemen. He didn’t declare and will return to college in 2020.

So with all that noted, what makes him interesting?

There are great flashes. Despite missing the final month of last season he still managed 8.5 TFL’s and five sacks at defensive tackle. His 2019 pass rush win percentage was 16.8%. Only Javon Kinlaw and Jordan Elliott scored higher marks. He also broke up four passes, forced a fumble and added a couple of hurries too.

There’s no questioning his athleticism. At SPARQ he ran a 5.17 at 332lbs. He also added a 4.56 short shuttle which is superb for his size (Malik McDowell ran a 4.53 at 295lbs). Wilson was the #4 overall recruit in the country and was coveted by all the top teams (especially Ohio State, LSU and Oklahoma — but also Alabama, Florida and Georgia). It would’ve been interesting to see what he could’ve achieved with one of the big SEC teams or Ohio State given FSU’s collapse. He’s from Texas, so there was no local connection to the Seminoles.

He’s now listed at about 311lbs so he could be even quicker and more athletic. Watching him on tape it wouldn’t be a surprise if he sneaked under 5.00 for his forty. He’s so quick and when he times his get-off he explodes into the backfield. He’s not just a straight-line runner either. He can shake off blockers and he’s incredibly agile with quick feet for his size.

Wilson isn’t a slouch when it comes to power either. You see evidence of heavy hands and an impressive jolt when he connects. He can create room to work with initial contact and once he separates from a blocker he has the quickness and agility to work into the backfield.

I’ve not seen any problems with his motor which was something I looked for given the way Florida State’s last couple of seasons went. He’s smart enough to jump and tip a pass if his initial rush stalls.

The one thing he isn’t is explosive. That shows up especially when he has to plant the anchor sometimes. He’s also not going to explode out of the traps and leave blockers standing. He’s going to need to beat opponents, not blow by them. He only jumped a 25 inch vertical at SPARQ. So while he’s quick for his size — he’s not tremendously explosive.

Wilson is appearing on a lot of early watch-lists and he’s immensely talent with enormous potential. Yet the dearth of obvious ‘second tier’ candidates behind the Trevor Lawrence, Penei Sewell, JaMarr Chase and Micah Parsons group has led to some projecting he could go top-10. It’s a bit rich to make that projection now. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility but he has things to work on. At this stage he’s a potential top-50 pick if he can have a good season. A terrific 2020, with his testing potential, could launch him into the first round.

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  1. Gohawks5151

    Thanks for another article Rob! My work days are really dragging so its always exciting to see one pop up. He’s an interesting one for sure. I see him in mocks in the 15-25 range and i think that end of round one is right for his performance. I can’t really relate him to anyone in particular but i think he has more upside than Ross Blalock this year and less than Jeffrey Simmons the year before, right now. The athletic potential could see him be more.

    • Rob Staton

      I think he’s between Dexter Lawrence and Blacklock. Simmons only lasted due to injury. He’s not a Lawrence level player but better potential than Blacklock IMO.

      • Gohawks5151

        I can agree on that. On further review Simmons was really, really talented.

  2. Rob Staton

    Just watched some of the Super Bowl win.

    After the Harvin kick you’ve got Red Bryant and Chris Clemons right in the fact of Harvin celebrating on the sideline.

    Marshawn, Kam, Clemons, Big Red.

    That team had talent but it had some grown men too. It’s something else they haven’t been able to address this off-season.

    • Gohawks5151

      Since its just you and i talking, do you think that the team needs to be built the same way to win a Super Bowl? Can they not win with a “nice guy” team? To compare, KC didn’t really have a BAMF or grown man filled team. Guys like Kelce, Frank, Jones and Matheiu don’t really fit into that category. Neither do Mahomes or Hill. They all fall into the Bobby Wagner category for me. Great athlete, not a BAMF.

      • Rob Staton

        There are many ways to win. I don’t think it’s even possible to build a team the same way as they did in 2013. And they seem a lot more conservative and risk averse these days too.

        But I think you need an element of physical toughness. I don’t intimately know KC’s Super Bowl team and those players might’ve existed in a way most non-Seahawks fans won’t recall Bryant or Clemons.

        It’s also worth noting what KC — and for that matter SF — had. The Chiefs have an electric offense loaded with stars or superstars and a complimentary defense. The 49ers have one of the best crafted offenses in the league and by far the best defensive front in the NFL. The Seahawks, at the moment, have Russell Wilson and some complimentary individuals. That isn’t enough. Everything, at the moment, rests on the QB.

  3. Gohawks5151

    I agree on the 2013 team. One of a kind. I agree on the toughness part though. I think there is some hints of it on the team. A guy like Carson can inspire with some tough runs like Lynch. We didn’t get to see him fully healthy but i think Diggs has some bite to him. Blair is so stone cold serious in interviews that i think he can be a prick in the best possible way.

    To your second point, do you think that improvements to the offensive scheme can help elevate the team? If Schotty takes a real step forward, can Russ drag a team to the end? Or is it all down to personnel and talent?

    • Rob Staton

      I know it flies against everything on social media but I don’t think Schotty needs to take a real step forward. The Seahawks had a top-10 offense per DVOA last season and they were highly explosive, productive and Wilson was the front runner for the MVP until Lamar Jackson took over the league.

      Even if they improve offensively, they’d still be a team where everything rests on the quarterback. Last year they relied on him to win a number of close games. This year will be the same. If Wilson or the offense is elevated, it won’t move the needle. The major improvements have to happen on defense. The defense simply isn’t good enough. Not enough talent, not enough pass rush, not enough speed, not enough physicality. Hopefully Dunbar and the first two draft picks will help a bit but it’s still not enough.

      • EranUngar

        Having a top franchise QB and paying him accordingly will have it’s effect on the rest of your roster. You do it because no other position has a bigger effect on the game and you expect to rely on him to win a number of close games for you.

        In 2019, RW did just that but not in the way you’d expect. The close games you expect your top QB to win for you are the SF, RAMS type of games, Not the CIN, PIT(without ben), TB games. Almost every game in 2019 ended up being “a close game” and not all of it was due to the defense.

        A team reliant of it’s dominant offense should not have to rely so much on 4th qtr comebacks. It needs to be able to score early and force opponents to play from behind making it easier for the defense to handle. The Seahawks did not do that a lot in 2019.

        A part of it was due to lack of talent on the receiving core. Lockett did great, DK was a rookie and Dissly did not make it to mid season. It was really only RW and the RBs and that was not enough. Starting 2020 with 2nd year DK, Olsen and Dorsett elevates the pass catchers group a lot.

        The other part was Schotty and the offensive game plan. If you need to win off your Offense, you need that unit coming out of the gates firing and put the opposing defense on their hills. You need to push for early scores rather than test and probe or set up things for later on.

        The weapons are there for 2020. I hope Schotty plans to use them early and effectively…

        • Rob Staton

          You can’t just ignore the defense Eran. It’s not good enough.

          • EranUngar

            I agree that that defense do not look good enough right now and like most here I’m waiting to see what are the n next steps regarding it.

            I hope that when all is said and done, they’ll field a better defensive roster than 2019.

            I think the offensive roster is already better than 2019 right now and I hope Schotty can do more with it to help the team win.

            • Rob Staton

              But the point is, the Seahawks already have an excellent offense. Whatever improvements are possible are minor. The Seahawks simply cannot play their chosen brand of football if the defense sucks. And it did suck last year. So far they’ve not done enough to take a significant step forward, if any step forward at all.

  4. James Z

    The SH’s are willing to pay their QB, who’s a top QB, absolute top dollar for unarguably the most important position on offense and yet are not quite willing to pay arguably the most important position on defense, edge rusher(s) top dollar relative to that position. If Clowney, or Ngakoue are top 5 edge rushers as RW is a top 5 QB, are the SH’s not amiss in not having one of them signed by now. I realize that the engine of offense runs differently then the engine of defense and thus say ‘arguably’ referencing the edge.

    • Rob Staton

      It could hold them back for sure. I know they prefer to have a nice rotation of players there but ultimately you need quality too. If you’re not creating any pressure you are going to find it very difficult to win a Championship. The Rams and Cardinals each have a player who can create pressure on their own. The Niners have the best defensive front in the league AND a player who can create on his own. The Seahawks have Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin. It’s a problem.

    • Jhams

      Are either Clowney or Ngakoue top 5 edge rushers though? I mean, they certainly need to get someone but I think saying either of our options are top 5 isn’t realistic.

    • cha

      Want some flaming hot spilled milk?

      If the Seahawks had signed Clark last year to the same structure of deal KC did, he was $6.5m against the cap in 2019. That’s less than Ziggy signed for. The Seahawks don’t typically structure deals the way KC did but just demonstrating it could be done.

      Clowney pops free for a steal of a pickup.

      Imagine Clowney and Clark working together, how much everyone else on the defense would be better.

      And if you want some nuclear hot spilled milk, think about if Reed doesn’t get suspended.

      Clowney and Clark bookending around Reed for 16 games.

      My goodness.

      • Rob Staton

        Their unwillingness to pay Clark will probably go down as a mistake, even if he ultimately got more than his status and ability warranted in Kansas City. The fact is he was a proven source of sacks. He and Jarran Reed were the building blocks on the D-line. Instead they traded him away and now, two drafts and a free agency period later, they’re still scrambling around trying to find anyone who can do what Clark did.

        Clark, Taylor, Mayowa, Irvin seems fine to me. With Reed inside.

        Take Clark away — or take Clowney away — and the whole complexion changes.

        It’s why they desperately need to bring Clowney back now.

        I wouldn’t go as far to say trading Clark has stalled the reset and the potential shown in 2018 to progress. But it might prove to be the case.

        • DC

          I think what really played into trading Clark was their desperate need for draft picks, not only the salary. I attribute it to the McDowell debacle, the last domini to fall from it.

          • Gohawks5151

            Same. Turned 4 picks into 11 if I’m not mistaken. Used same capital to trade back up and get DK? I’m not sure who the direct picks are. Collier and Barton? Lewis this year for sure

            • cha

              Technically they stayed put and took Collier at the pick they got for Clark in 2019. They maneuvered around and got DK with their own original picks.

          • mishima

            Nothing wrong with trading overvalued assets for cap space and draft picks.

            Blowing that cap space on players like Wright/Olson and/or wasting picks on players like Collier and Barton is the problem. Trading Clark was an aggressive move followed by a renewed commitment to has-beens.

            If they had converted Clark into free agents like Fowler (or Clowney) and picks comparable to Brooks, Taylor, we’d all be stoked.

            Compare the Seahawks’ decision to trade Clark to the 49ers trading Buckner. Similar good processes with drastically different results. IMO, all comes down to creating and developing depth of talent (and it’s not all because the Niners draft high).

            • Rob Staton

              These are excellent points.

              As I said earlier, there was logic in trading Clark but we may come to look back on that deal as the defining roadblock to the reset. Having turned the corner nicely in 2018 you could see a pathway to future success. They had the pieces to build around but they had to build. Trading Clark removed a building block and then they’ve proceeded to do a demolition job on the pass rush. Now they’re stuck in a crisis mode on defense.

              After the 2018 season I did think it was possible if they rebuilt sufficiently. I can’t imagine seeing this version of the Seahawks in a Super Bowl over the next couple of years.

              • mishima

                Not a popular take, but I thought they should have prioritized Clark/Reed over Wagner/Wright (any 3rd contracts). Lock down your disruptive DT and proven EDGE/LEO, but cylcle + add LB depth in the draft.

                Just this year, you could have added Brooks, Gay Jr. and Wilson with your 1st 3 picks, if you so wanted and were so insane. LBs are out there. Pass rushers are rare and expensive.

                Carroll/Schneider of 2010 would have been less loyal/sentimental and more aggressive/competitive with this roster.

                • pdway

                  I don’t totally disagree w that. It’s so tricky w Bobby – b/c he’s both still a good player, and the unquestioned leader on defense. But yeah – is his role easier to fill in the draft, than a pass-rusher (assuming you don’t have a top-10 pick or get lucky) – – it is.

                  It’s an interesting thread Rob has started re the Clark trade being a roadblock to the future. At the time, I felt like we got such good value – and that the salary the Chiefs gave him was just too high to justify. But sitting here a year later – you can know that the Chiefs have zero regret about the trade, and we are kind of stuck in neutral.

                  It may be that when you’re a team that’s good enough to always make the playoffs – and therefore never have a high 1st round pick – you really need to think about spending money in hard-to-fill areas where the blue chippers aren’t available at the bottom of the 1st round.

  5. ZacScratch

    1. I don’t think the Seahawka think that Clowney or Ngakoue are top 5 edge rushers in this league. 2. I think the Seahawks are confident they can match any offer that Clowney will now get and therefore he will be on the team in 2020. 3. The Seahawks might be wrong. 4. I might be wrong.

    • Rob Staton

      Well if they’re unwilling to pay any edge rusher who isn’t a top-five in the league… they’ll never pay anyone.

      • Zachary Moddejonge

        Yeah. They’ve paid top 5 salaries to guys they’ve felt were top 5 at their respective positions: Russell, Bobby, Sherm, Earl, Kam. The guys they felt weren’t, they let test free agency and hoped to get back at a bargain (or traded). This is how they’ve operated for years. But I agree with you, it’s a huge problem right now and they are likely going to have to overpay or go all in on trade, or suffer another season with an ineffective pass rush that holds them back.

        • Rob Staton

          It’s a perfectly logical way of doing things.

          But when you’re very much in a quarterback’s peak window you can’t afford to be too conservative when you have a major talent void. As I’ve said a few times, had they paid for Clowney and Everson Griffen and it hadn’t worked nobody would’ve criticised the team for the thought process. Maybe the execution, but not the plan. By deciding instead to sign Mayowa and Irvin (so far), they are wide open for criticism if they serve up a crappy pass rush again in 2020.

  6. ZacScratch

    I find Irvin’s 5.9 million salary interesting because all the rumors say Griffin could now be had for that. I wonder if they had Irvin ranked higher, or if they just didnt know what Griffin’s market was. I still think they’ll end up with the biggest offer for Clowney, but at this point I’m not super confident that’ll be enough to get him.

    • Bigten

      Im convinced that within the contracts “no tag” clause, the consideration for that clause was a clause that states Hawks have the ability to match any offer, and Clowney must accept the best offer. Other teams know this and are not offering much, because 1) no point if the offer is going to be matched 2) don’t have money to offer 3) don’t want to offer high the case of Hawks not matching and having to actually sign Clowney for that price. I think it is inevitable that the Hawks end up signing Clowney, for a modest 2 year deal.

  7. HOUSE


    Another great piece. I am interested to see what Wilson does this year. His athleticism is there, seems like he wants to work hard and technique can always further develop with good coaching. He seems like a guy we need to definitely keep eyes on.

    My buddy is a big Ravens fan and he was talking to me today about Brandon Williams being a casualty of cuts with all their new additions to their DL. Do you think he could be an option to help us?

    • millhouse-serbia

      Yes he could definitely be an option. They aded Campbell, Wolfe, Madubuike…last year they sign Justin Ellis…they als.have Mack…

      And they would save a lot of money with cutting him, and arent in great cap situation…

      • Greg Haugsven

        His cap hit this year is $14.1 and if they released him his dead cap would be $9.8 so I’m not sure how much sense that would make.

        • millhouse-serbia

          This is answer for Rob too.

          I think they are waiting post june 1st cut. Then they will save 9.5mil for this season.

          • Rob Staton

            But they can just designate him as a post June 1st cut. They don’t have to actually wait for June 1st.

            • millhouse-serbia

              You are right, I totally forgot on that.

    • Rob Staton

      I just get the sense it would’ve happened by now if it was going to.

    • Scot04

      Keeping Williams to plug that middle along with all they’ve added; keeps their LBs free and clean. They will be very improved on defense as is. Definitely don’t see him being cut. I think they value him and he stays. Very underated player.

  8. Georgia Hawk

    Opinion question for you Rob, and the room:

    You mentioned further up in the comments that SF had one of the best crafted offenses in the league. I don’t argue that at all. I would, however, argue that the Hawks had more offensive talent than the Niners, save perhaps on the OL. Hawks have by far a better QB, more WR talent, and I would argue a better RB room. Niners have Kittle of course, but its pretty bare after that in the TE room.

    Hawks had a #5 by DVOA Offense, SF #7. Niether tema was really a slouch by any means, but I would argue that both could be far better.

    It isn’t an apples to apples comparison just due to the differences in offensive philosophy, but that’s kinda what I’d like to key on. Hawks approach is find players that fit the Offense. SF approach looks more like fit the Offense to match the players.

    I’m not arguing whether the Hawks should change their philosophy, thats a can of worms I want nothing to do with yet again. This is more opinion based to fill a dead space in the off season.

    The question: Which philosophy or style gives more room to improve?

    Are the Hawks better positioned to acquire players that compliment their offense, either in draft or FA, that can really make it hum? (DK, Lockett, Carson, etc)

    Or is it SF being able to just get the BPA to them and have a philosophy that can adapt and change easily to meet their needs?

    • Rob Staton

      San Francisco have a very distinct Kyle Shanahan scheme and have added players perfectly suited to it. Their identity is Shanahan’s offense. They’ve just been able to combine it with the NFL’s best defensive line. They have completed their circle beautifully.

      I don’t really know what to say to your question. To me it doesn’t really matter. Both teams have productive offenses. The big difference is San Francisco has a fantastic defense and the Seahawks have a crappy one.

      • Georgia Hawk

        Oh I’m with ya, SF has done a brilliant job building a team that does what they want it to do. As you’ve mentioned before that happens when you pick in the top 5 year after year for a while. I honestly dont disagree with anything you’ve brought up over the last few months.

        I guess I’m asking a more philosophical question than anything, strictly related to offense. Shanahan has had success with RG3, MVP Matt Ryan, and now Jimmy G. I doubt you could find 3 more different QBs than those three to throw in a pile. The success seen with each, and the way they did it (in my opinion) shows how adaptable his offense is to his personnel.

        Looking over at the Hawks, Wilson IS the offense, and when Carson/Penny go down, so does the Offense. To me that says it is based on personnel in the system.

        My personnel thoughts are that the more time SF has to find personnel to perfectly suit what they want to do, rather than adapt to fit…look out. If they ever got a QB that could actually throw a deep ball…holy hell it would be scary.

    • Sea Mode

      Hawks approach is find players that fit the Offense. SF approach looks more like fit the Offense to match the players.

      I think both teams on offense draft to fit their QB. RW is a deep ball maestro, so we need fast guys who can go deep. Thus Lockett and DK. Pound the rock and then hit those guys deep off play action.

      Jimmy G is a game manager with a weak arm, so SF assembled a bunch of explosive RAC weapons for him to dump off to in Deebo, Aiyuk, etc. But on the shoulders of that defense, even a “game manager” can get you to the SB if you don’t ask him to do too much. And Shanahan has that down to an art at this point.

      And as you reference below, SF being able to go DL with their early R1 pick in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020 has paid dividends. The last four of those being top 10 picks, two of them top 5. We haven’t picked in the top 25 since 2012…

  9. Bigten

    Thank you for the write up, Rob. Do you see any other DL prospects that we should look for?
    Also, With the very possible possibility of not having CFB this year, at least very unlikely having Pac-12 ball until spring, what should we be looking for?

    Side note, as Washingtonian Buckeye, seeing Gee Scott Jr. work on his craft individually with Richard Sherman is getting me extremely excited!!!!

  10. C Dub

    I have been rewatching this 2012 season lately. Even without Avril and Bennett, they had a better pass rush then what they had now. If Pete wants to stick with the “bully” angle, this last years Titans team played like that towards the end. The current team lacks that intimidation.

    I’m Trying to envision some kind of way to make what they have work to get back to the Super Bowl. It always seems like there is one team that comes out of nowhere to get to the big game. 49ers, Panthers, Giants. Just gotta surge at the right time and have the right elements in place.

    • cha

      Look at that size on the 2012 DL though. It’s easy to see how they bullied people.

      Red Bryant
      Alan Branch
      Brandon Mebane
      Clinton McDonald
      Greg Scruggs

      That’s 1200lbs of beef coming at you on every play, supplemented with Irvin and Clemons terrorizing the edges.

  11. Robert

    Thanks for the write up, Rob. Seems like the traffic is down a bit the last couple of days, so I just wanted to poke my head up and let you know I’m here and still reading.
    Wilson looks promising, although I had a hard time locating him in the video – looked like he was moved around the line quite a bit.

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