The Patriots did not select a linebacker during the 2022 draft, putting an even bigger focus on the position group heading into the summer, with newly acquired Mack Wilson expected to be in the mix to seize a significant role. Though Wilson has been the only new off-the-ball linebacker to join the team thus far this offseason, coming over via a trade for Chase Winovich in mid-March, he won't be the only newish face in the group, as Raekwon McMillan and Cameron McGrone will also add some intrigue.
"It's a blessing to get fresh start, I kind of look at it like a second chance, so I'm approaching it like a pro," said Wilson, meeting the media for the first time since his arrival in New England. "Just coming in with that mindset to work hard and earn everything that I can, build that trust amongst the rest of the guys that built this foundation here last season... just try my best to contribute any way as possible."
Coming out of Alabama, Wilson had the kind of skillset that many covet for the Patriots defense, with speed and toughness to account for the dizzying array of modern offenses that continue to get faster and more explosive. During his rookie season, Wilson stepped right in for the Browns after being selected in the fifth round, playing all 16 games while notching 82 total tackles, with a sack, an interception and a forced fumble. In New England he'll be reunited with a collection of former Crimson Tide teammates, including Mac Jones.
"I remember Mac when he was a pup, seeing how much he grew as a person and a player, it amazed me," said Wilson. "When we were in college, I was telling everybody back home Mac Jones is gonna be special... I used to always tell him just to stay working, stay patient, your time will come and that's what he did."
After an impressive rookie season himself, Wilson saw his role decline in his next two seasons in Cleveland, going from playing 88 percent of the defensive snaps in 2019 to 43 percent in 2020 and finally 21 percent this past season. Both he and the Patriots hope he can have a resurgence in New England, especially considering the turnover that appears imminent at linebacker with Dont'a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins all remaining unsigned after playing major defensive roles in 2021.
Wilson is embracing the challenge, immersing himself in the Patriots culture which he spoke highly of.
"It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of fun as well," said Wilson. "It's just super structured. I feel like it's just something that brings out the best in people. It's gonna bring out the best in this team this year and it's been great overall. I'm just super excited. I can't wait to get everybody back in the building and continue to build this foundation."