Eagles

Eric Wilson oozing confidence as he prepares to help Eagles’ new defense

Eagles

Eric Wilson is a former undrafted linebacker who is coming off his first full NFL season as a starter.

But he’s not lacking any confidence.

And when he hears the chatter about his struggles stopping the run — ProFootballFocus gave him a putrid 38.3 grade against the run in 2020 — it doesn’t seem to bother him.

Not in the slightest.

“I can stop the run,” Wilson said confidently during his introductory Zoom press conference in Philadelphia on Tuesday. “[ProFootballFocus] is [ProFootballFocus], but I’m a great player, I’m great against the run, great against the pass, I can blitz. I think that’s a great skillset that I have, is my versatility and my ability to make plays all around the field.”

The Eagles certainly hope so.

While the Eagles didn’t make that significant of an investment in Wilson, who signed a one-year deal, he still figures to have a pretty important role with the team in 2021. Not only is he a likely starter at one of the linebacker positions, but Wilson also comes from Minnesota and has a preexisting relationship with defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and linebackers coach Nick Rallis from his time with the Vikings.

So not only will Wilson be a key player in the defense this year, but he’ll also be an important bridge for Gannon as the Eagles’ first-time defensive coordinator implements his new scheme in Philadelphia. Think about the addition of Nigel Bradham for Jim Schwartz back in 2016.

“I think it’s great to be reunited with [Gannon] and with [Rallis], it’s tremendous to have that familiarity, have that authentic relationship,” Wilson said. “It’s very transparent in our communication and I think that’s tremendously helpful for implementing new concepts or being on the same page on the field, in the meeting rooms.

 

“It’s tremendously helpful and being able to communicate with my teammates and be in that situation, it’s tremendous. I’m excited to meet my teammates, to put in work with my teammates and get to work.”

Wilson, 26, said his discussions with Gannon since signing with the Eagles’ haven’t gotten too far into the X’s and O’s. In other words, no, he doesn’t know which of the three linebacker positions he’ll be playing with the Eagles.

But Wilson prides himself on being a versatile player and that versatility was tested in 2020 when the Vikings suffered a rash of injuries at the position. Wilson even ended up with the green dot sticker on his helmet, calling the plays for Mike Zimmer’s defense.

“I think it was a great opportunity for me to grow my skillset as a player,” Wilson said.

In his first three seasons in the NFL as an undrafted player out of Cincinnati, Wilson started a total of 10 games. Last season, he started all 15, had 3 interceptions, 3 sacks, 122 tackles, 8 passes defensed and 2 fumble recoveries. It was by far his best season and Wilson is convinced he’s still a rising player.

Despite a pretty impressive 2020 season, Wilson’s one-year deal with the Eagles is worth $2.75 million and can be worth up to $3.25 million if incentives are hit. Not bad … but not exactly top-of-the-market money either. Maybe that has something to do with his play against the run or the 20 missed tackles that were charged to him last year.

If Wilson is using this season as a prove-it year, it makes sense that he would take this opportunity with a team where he’ll have familiarity with the scheme and a clear path to a huge role.

Wilson isn’t a perfect player but he’s a pretty good one.

And he’s convinced he’s only getting better. Wilson isn’t cocky; just confident. And that’s a good trait to have.

“I don’t have a ceiling,” he said. “I truly believe that I’m getting better each and every day, as I expressed. I continually each and every day work on being my best and improving. Preparing each and every day to truly succeed and to truly thrive. I think this is an amazing environment and an amazing city to do that in.”

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