Since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014 by the Kansas City Chiefs, wide receiver Albert Wilson has had his ups and downs. At various times a hero, a pariah, and a non-factor, Wilson is a subject of debate at the number-four wide receiver spot behind Tyreek Hill, De’Anthony Thomas, and Chris Conley. To understand his future on the team, let’s take a look at his history.
What has Wilson done in his career?
Wilson’s best statistical season was in 2015, when he caught 35 passes out of 57 targets for 451 yards (12.9 average) and two touchdowns. In 2016, his production fell off sharply. The best explanation is probably that he saw less playing time due to the emergence of Tyreek Hill. Wilson seeing 6 fewer targets in 2016 despite two more games supports this theory.
At 5’9″ and 200 pounds, Wilson looks more like a running back than a wide receiver. He plays some snaps at outside receiver for the Chiefs, but it is more as a decoy to occupy the enemy defenses’ best corners than as a legitimate threat. His production improved greatly in 2015 when he was playing behind former Chief Jeremy Maclin. This is most likely because he could play against defenders of a similar skill level. The more and better players in front of him, the better Wilson will produce.
In the Chiefs’ 2017 season opener against the New England Patriots, Wilson played 40 of 69 offensive snaps (58%). He also logged 15 special teams snaps for 39%. However, he silently played one of the better games of his career. Catching 5 catches off 5 targets for 37 yards isn’t that impressive at first sight. But four of those balls were for first downs, including a couple key ones as the Chiefs came back in the fourth quarter.
How does this affect Sunday?
As I said above, Wilson may be more successful the lower he goes on the depth chart. With more legitimate deep threats on the team, Wilson is going to face fewer high-tier defensive backs. The Philadelphia Eagles will be missing their number one corner, Ronald Darby, this Sunday. This will give Wilson an even bigger advantage. As long as Andy Reid keeps using Wilson as a spot player on underneath crossing routes, Wilson will win. Look for him to be targeted a handful of times this Sunday—and don’t be surprised if he hauls them all in.