Quincy Wilson’s rookie season was a disappointment. No matter how you slice it, he did not live up to the expectations placed on a second round pick. While fifth round selection Nate Hairston gobbled up snaps as the Colts’ nickel corner, Wilson was cast aside and inactive for much of the season.
This was terribly frustrating for those who watched him early in the season. He had flashes early on that indicated that he could really be an asset to the Colts in coverage. Unfortunately, those flashes never materialized into a very impressive season. He got hurt, and then was a healthy scratch in eight games throughout the 2017 season on a team desperately in need of a cornerback.
Much can be argued about then-head coach Chuck Pagano’s ability to motivate players. Given the level of incompetence we saw in the coaching under him, it is almost understandable that a player might not really respond to it. But some of the issues were definitely about immaturity, as Wilson essentially admits.
“There were some things that I couldn’t control, there’s no secret about that, but no, I was not mentally strong.”
Wilson also talked about how the preparation for the draft meant he didn’t work out the way he should have to be in shape for the start of the season. If that seems like a pretty poor excuse to you, it is because it is. The post-draft period before training camp is plenty of time to get in shape, but again, immaturity played a role.
Additionally, he owned up to not really giving the best effort in practice. His poor approach to practice was a lesson he says this past season taught him.
“You just gotta treat every practice like it’s a game. You can’t just go out there and feel like I can be whatever today. Every day, you gotta prove it.”
It is important to remember that Wilson entered his rookie season as a 20-year-old. It was exceedingly clear from his early performances that he has the raw skills to be an effective cornerback in the NFL. The question was going to come down to whether he could put in the work to get better.
The common theme you always hear with regard to league punishments, especially from former players, is that taking away playing time is the only way to get through to a player. If that holds true, Wilson got a cold dose of reality last season. If he is to be believed, the message has been received.
Quincy Wilson on Instagram says he was a “caged animal” this past season.— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) January 3, 2018
Wilson was sidelined for 5 games when healthy.
Will new coaching staff ‘uncage' him? pic.twitter.com/OFYld5fGyL
What’s more, with the new coaching staff comes a familiar scheme. Wilson played cornerback in a 4-3 scheme at Florida under then-defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, which bears strong similarities to what it looks like Matt Eberflus is installing.
That scheme that relied on drop zones, solid play from the front seven, and cutting your athletic playmakers in the secondary loose to jump routes, is exactly what made Wilson one of the top cornerbacks in his draft class.
If he has matured and shows up for training camp in top shape and ready to practice hard, I fully expect that he can be one of the players on this Colts roster that surprises people the most with how much better he looks in the 2018 season.