The highlight reel play of Cleveland Browns training camp so far doesn’t belong to Odell Beckham Jr., Baker Mayfield or even Myles Garrett.
No, that honor goes to rookie fifth-round rookie linebacker Mack Wilson. The Alabama product has been impressive this training camp and showed a massive amount of athleticism on an interception of backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert.
But not only did he make the pick, he took it to the house, rolling almost directly into a sprinter’s stance and motoring by the offense.
Rookie LB Mack Wilson Rolling With the Browns
Wilson had 113 tackles, seven sacks and six interceptions for the Crimson Tide over his three seasons at Alabama. Wilson has a huge level of athleticism that helps him excel in coverage, which was evident on the ridiculous pick-six.
Here’s some of what NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein had to say about Wilson when he was coming out in the draft.
He is today’s version of an NFL linebacker with adequate size, plus strength and toughness, speed pursue and an ability to handle coverage duties on any down. Wilson is like a classically trained musician who hits his notes on time, but the question is whether or not he can play as a free-form, improvisational talent when the opportunity arises. Either way, he’s a solid, three-down starter in any defensive scheme.
“I love his athleticism,” Wilks said. “When you look at him out in space, he plays well, good change of direction. When you look at the matchups throughout this league, a lot of times you do not really have safeties that can cover these big tight ends so you need a linebacker that can run. That is the mode that we have right now. He fits that mode right there being able to cover a tight end as well.”
The Browns have run a 4-2-5 scheme for the majority of training camp, with veterans Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert. Adarius Taylor and Ray-Ray Armstrong are also battling on the depth chart. In a coverage role, Wilson could be a key contributor for the Browns next season.
Browns Rookie LB Sione Takitaki Has to Taper His Aggressiveness
Wilson hasn’t been the only rookie linebacker making plays. Sione Takitaki, the Browns third round pick from BYU, has also made his presence known — sometimes a little too much.
Takitaki was asked to tone it down by his coaches, especially before the team got into pads last week. He got into a spat with running back Duke Johnson Jr., which the rookie took the blame for.
“I feel like I am a high-energy guy so I just go out there and try to attack stuff and do everything right,” Takitaki siad. “It kind of got chippy. That is just me being a rookie not understanding what the NFL is and coming out here and practicing right. That is kind of one of the learning things that over these three days I have been learning from the vets and the coaches to just to play under control, keep everyone healthy and things like that.”
Wilks has liked what he’s seen out of Takitaki, most notably his run-stopping ability.
“He’s physical, and he’s still a rookie,” Wilks said. “He still makes mistakes that he has to make sure he’s correct, but I like his physicality. We’ve thrown a lot at these guys in seven practices, so when you look at what we’re doing, I think he’s swimming a little bit. But he’ll get there.”