As my countdown of the top 25 New Orleans Saints' players reaches No. 16 I look at Martez Wilson, an impressive athlete who should be making the most of a great opportunity this season.
In limited time last season Wilson was very efficient as a situational pass rusher. Yes, he only recorded 3 sacks. However, he also compiled an impressive 24 total pressures on just 206 pass rush snaps- good for a pressure frequency of 11.36%, and Pro Football Focus's 15th best pass rushing productivity for 4-3 DE's. Additionally, several factors are working in Wilson's favor to give him an opportunity to shine this upcoming season.
First off, Victor Butler's injury, while a terrible loss for the team, puts Wilson in a spot to contribute early and often. Second, Wilson seems to be very well suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He started as a 4-3 OLB and then became an undersized 4-3 DE, so a 3-4 OLB seems like a happy medium. Lastly, Will Smith has looked painfully slow this off-season. As I wrote in my entry piece for CSC (yes, this article was mine) it would be a shame if the Saints used Will Smith as an OLB over these talented youngsters.
Due to the lack of depth at OLB, Wilson should see a significant increase in snaps from 2012, and I expect his stats to reflect that. I don't think it's unrealistic at all to think that Wilson will approach double digit sacks, and be a consistent nuisance to opposing quarterbacks. As I've stated several times, Wilson's athleticism gives him exciting potential. If you remember, he recorded the fastest 40 yard dash of any linebacker at the 2011 combine with a ridiculous time of 4.49. That's what some receivers run. I know speed isn't everything, but speed like that can make for one hell of an edge rusher.
Wilson's Time's Picayune's Ranking - Unranked