WR Albert Wilson Tries to Build Upon Successful Rookie Season

The state of the once undrafted free agent entering year two of his career

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Amid all of the Chiefs offseason moves at the wide receiver position—from the signing of free agent Jeremy Maclin to the drafting of Chris Conley out of Georgia and all the change in between—one of the aspects that remains constant comes by way of 2014 undrafted rookie Albert Wilson.

Once a free agent from Georgia State, Wilson made the 53-man roster out of training camp in 2014 and would eventually progress into a player capable of making a significant impact by season's end.

Wilson explained the difference he felt from year one to year two early on this offseason.

"[I'm] more comfortable out there," he said. "[I'm] just trying to take advantage of this opportunity. We're still early in the season in OTAs and we still have camp to go, so I'm just out there fighting for a spot."

To understand how far Wilson came in 2014, his season must be explored in fourths.

In the first four games (1-4) of the season, he was inactive twice and had just one special teams snap.

The second fourth of Wilson's season (games 5-8) was one of inauguration. Other than time on special teams, he did not play much, but in the limited offensive snaps, he made the first two catches of his career—first away in San Diego and then at home against the New York Jets.

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The third fourth of Wilson's season (games 9-12) was highlighted by a key special teams play in Buffalo (seen above), but from an offensive standpoint, it was much like the second—two catches, this time in the same game (away against Oakland).

It was the final fourth of his season (games 13-16) that Wilson stepped into his elevated role and had the second-most snaps of any receiver on the Chiefs roster.

Receiving Stats in Final Four Games Last Season (2014)

Player

G

Tgt

Rec

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

Rec/G

Yds/G

YAC

YAC/R

Travis Kelce

4

30

23

284

12.3

29

1

5.8

71

113

4.9

Albert Wilson

4

24

12

209

17.4

48

0

3

52.3

115

9.6

Dwayne Bowe

4

23

14

185

13.2

37

0

3.5

46.3

116

8.3

Jason Avant

4

18

11

122

11.1

41

0

2.8

30.5

62

5.6

Jamaal Charles

4

16

10

77

7.7

18t

1

2.5

19.3

2

0.2

De'Anthony Thomas

4

14

11

86

7.8

30

0

2.8

21.5

5

0.5

Knile Davis

4

6

5

82

16.4

70t

1

1.3

20.5

-7

-1.4

Anthony Fasano

4

4

2

3

1.5

2

0

0.5

0.8

0

0

In the final four games (Arizona, Oakland, Pittsburgh and San Diego), Wilson had the most quarterback targets of any receiver on the team. His 209 yards receiving (52.3 yards per game) also led all wideouts, and his yards after catch per reception number of 9.6 yards led all Chiefs.

His 48-yard reception from Alex Smith (seen above) in the second game against Oakland was one of the best passing moments for the Chiefs offense all season.*         *

It's Wilson's speed, his quick twitch and his route running that make him someone opponents don't want to be assigned to, and that fact was again evidenced this offseason by the remarks of his own teammates.

When asked who he liked matching up against in OTAs, cornerback Phillip Gaines said it was Wilson.

"He's a really hard cover," Gaines said of the receiver in early June. "He's short but he's really fast and explosive. He can get in and out of his breaks really quick.

"You have a little bit of everything when you cover him. I really like guarding him."

When it comes to his height (a not-so-staggering 5-foot-9), Wilson's already self-aware. That's why this January, he explained to KCChiefs.com that he models his game off of Steve Smith Jr., who is similar in stature to him and conjunctly one of the finest receivers in the NFL this past decade.

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Photos from the 2014 season of Albert Wilson

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Now, with the addition of Maclin to the Chiefs receiver tandem, he has been able to learn firsthand from a former first-round pick and a seasoned veteran in the Andy Reid system.

"He's an excellent guy," Wilson said of Maclin. "He knows what he's doing. He's the coach on the field for me."

Jason Avant, a nine-year veteran, he explained, is the same way.

"[Jeremy's] just like Jason. They come in, I can look to them at any time—even right before a play if I have a question on the sideline. It's great help out there."

Maclin is a good person for Wilson to look to because while he and Wilson don't exactly share the same means of making a team, they share the same Andy Reid track. Maclin was taken in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft, while Wilson was undrafted.

Jeremy Maclin (Year One to Year Two with Andy Reid)

Year

Age

G

Tgt

Rec

Yds

Avg

Lng

TD

Rec/G

Yds/G

2009

21

15

91

56

773

13.8

56

4

3.7

51.5

2010

22

16

115

70

964

13.8

83

10

4.4

60.3

The point of bringing the stats up is to note Maclin's clear jump with Reid from year one to year two. This type of jump will be something Wilson will intend to mimic as he learns from Maclin.

Like Maclin in his first season with the Smith, Wilson will continue to try to build a rapport with the quarterback, who is eager to continue to watch what the second-year receiver can do.

"You see him come in and how hungry [he is] and how determined, how ready he is for this next season and seizing his opportunity and knowing what he can do," Smith said of Wilson's demeanor in OTAs. "[He] got a taste of it last year, him coming in late in the season and playing really well."  

As with anything in the NFL, how Wilson responds to his late success last year remains to be seen, but the progress, from 2014 undrafted free agent to a receiver who found a key role during the season's final stretch, is worth looking back at and appreciating.

But with that acknowledged, he isn't taking anything for granted headed into 2015.

"I still feel like I have to fight until it's guaranteed. I'm fighting like I'm still the underdog."

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