Chiefs WR Albert Wilson Models Game After the Ravens' Steve Smith

At just 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, Kansas City Chiefs undrafted rookie receiver Albert Wilson didn't fit the prototypical body type of an NFL receiver.

But as an aspiring young player, Wilson looked up to an NFL veteran with a similar physical stature and a player who has found plenty of success during his NFL career.

"I watch [current Baltimore Ravens receiver] Steve Smith every day," Wilson said. "That's who I base my whole game off of. I feel like being a small receiver, they're quick to put you on the inside. I feel like Smith made a statement that you can play anywhere on the field and you don't need to be 6-foot-4, 220 pounds to be your ideal receiver."

Smith has carved out a 14-year NFL career that's included 971 receptions, 14,219 yards and 73 touchdowns.

That kind of production sounds ideal for any receiver regardless of height.

Smith is currently getting ready for the Ravens' playoff game against the New England Patriots, fulfilling a successful first season in Baltimore after spending the first 13 years of his career with the Carolina Panthers.

At 35 years old, Smith led the Ravens with 79 receptions for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns in the regular season, along with a five-catch, 101-yard performance in the Ravens' 30-17 playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week.

But for Wilson, looking up to Smith wasn't just simply because of his height. There was a connection to Smith that came via one of his coaches at Georgia State.

"(Former NFL receiver) Keary Colbert was my receivers coach my last year [at Georgia State]," Wilson said. "Smith was a guy that I'd been watching forever but [coach Colbert] played in Carolina with Smith and gave me stuff that I really study that you can't find on just regular TV or YouTube."

Colbert played four seasons in Carolina with Smith (2004-07).

Wilson said he uses every chance he gets to study Smith, constantly going over what he does on any given play, watching it 15 times or more in some cases.

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Beyond the field, Smith's approach to the game is really what resonates with Wilson, a player who is battling the same doubts Smith has had to overcome because of his size.

"He's the most competitive person I've ever watched from practice, interviews to playing on the field, he's always competing," Wilson said.

The chip on Smith's shoulder has come to define him as a player, and it's something Chiefs general manager John Dorsey says could be manifested in Wilson as well.

"[Wilson] is a fascinating study because he had one scholarship offer," Dorsey said. "They come in all shapes and sizes."

Dorsey shared his thoughts on Wilson's 2014 season, which picked up later in the year after battling a high ankle injury early in the season.

"I think we all saw in training camp what he could offer," Dorsey said of Wilson. "He had the setback with the ankle. Then the last quarter of the season you began to see what we saw, a guy who knows how to play the game of football.

"It's not too big for him. He can catch the ball and he can run after the catch. Hopefully we will get him to increase his production from this year to next year."

After injuries to veteran receivers A.J. Jenkins and Donnie Avery earlier in the season, Wilson was given an opportunity.

Wilson finished the season with 16 receptions for 260 yards, although 12 of those catches and 209 of the yards came in the final four games of the season, when Wilson led all Chiefs receivers during that span.

"Words can't even describe how happy and proud of myself of taking full advantage of the situation I was in," Wilson said.

The Chiefs receivers finished the season without a touchdown reception and just 1,588 yards receiving, which was less than the Steelers' Antonio Brown (1,698), the Broncos' Demaryius Thomas (1,619) and the Falcons' Julio Jones (1,593) each had individually.

"I think the stats speak for themselves and we're going to have to do some work there," Dorsey said.

Wilson was a bright spot for the Chiefs' receiving group.

Late in the season, Chiefs coach Andy Reid spoke of what Wilson brought to the offense as a rookie.

"He's a good young player, good route runner," Reid said. "He's got good strength; even though he's not really tall, he's got really good strength and quickness. You see his ability to kind of work in space and set up his moves."

Besides catching passes, Wilson knows there's more to be a complete receiver than simply what shows up in a box score, and that includes blocking in the run game.

Photos from the 2014 season of Albert Wilson

"That's something I love doing," Wilson said. "When you're that aggressive as a blocker, it makes it easier running routes because they don't want to be as physical with you."

As Wilson looks towards a crucial offseason in terms of the receiver position for the Chiefs as a whole, his individual plan is simple.

"To get stronger and to get more comfortable with the playbook," Wilson said. "I need to know the playbook like the back of my hand. That's first and foremost. But to get stronger and just to stay healthy and to learn my body, to be in the best situation as my body can be in when I report back."

Much like the player he's looked up to throughout his football career in Smith, Wilson understands what it'll take for him to get to where he wants to go.

"I've been working extremely hard since I've step foot into this organization and I'm going to continue to work hard."

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