With Quentin Groves Out, Cleveland Browns Should Look at Martez Wilson

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Updated: November 21, 2013

Coming out of the University of Illinois, Martez Wilson was touted as an aggressive defender meant for success at the NFL level. Taken in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Wilson found his first home with the New Orleans Saints as an outside linebacker under his first of three defensive coordinators, Gregg Williams.

The union with Williams did not last long due to the infamous “Bountygate” case, which prompted the Saints to hire former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo as their new defensive coordinator. Under Spagnuolo, Wilson was asked to make the transition to defensive end. With another short-lived stint, Wilson then inherited his third defensive coordinator in as many years, Rob Ryan, where he was again moved back to outside linebacker in a new system.

As luck would have it, free agent acquisition Victor Butler would tear his ACL during OTAs, leaving the door wide open for Wilson to claim his position to himself. Unfortunately, Wilson injured his elbow in late July and he would wind up inactive when the Saints opened the season. Due to all the injuries, the Saints unexpectedly made the move to install more 4-3 fronts than previously thought, and he would go on to see his playing time suffer upon his return to defensive end.

On October 22nd, Wilson became a casualty of suddenly quarterback desperate teams seeking help in the passing game, as he was cut to promote Ryan Griffen from the Saints practice squad. On the season, Wilson had only played 41 snaps on defense, as well as 29 special teams snaps in his four active games this year. In his last game with the Saints in Week 5, Wilson was a healthy scratch, before being released and picked up by the Oakland Raiders.

Fast forward to this week and Wilson finds himself back in the free agent pool after failing to get a real chance with the Raiders. After spending three games in Oakland, he compiled no statistics and is hoping for another chance with a new team. In his two-plus seasons with the Saints, Wilson racked up five sacks and 30 tackles, two passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Clearly with a nose for the ball, Wilson just needs to find the right match for him, preferably in a 3-4 defense at the linebacker position. Wilson has shown that he has a knack for getting to the quarterback, and in the Cleveland Browns attacking defense, he could be a perfect fit. Coach Ray Horton loves his defense to get after the passer, and with a recent injury to outside linebacker Quentin Groves, they could use the help.

“I can play every linebacker position there is: on the line of scrimmage, off the line of scrimmage, I can blitz, I can rush,” said Wilson. “So I feel like the more I’m capable of showing the coaching staff that I can play and I’m very versatile with my ability, the sky’s the limit.”

If there is anybody in the league that can get the most out of their players, it’s Horton. It’s a safe bet that general manager Mike Lombardi is paying attention, as he has already been linked to the 2011 NFL Draft on multiple occasions during his time in Cleveland.

The list of players he has shown interest in from the 2011 class includes quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Scott Tolzien, guard John Moffitt and running back Dion Lewis. He has also found success with the players from the class already on his roster including Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard, Greg Little, Jordan Cameron, Buster Skrine and Jason Pinkston. Wilson has a chance to be very good, now he just needs the opportunity.

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