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Bengals Interested In Illinois Linebacker Martez Wilson

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As we pointed out in the previous post that Cincinnati's interest in Illinois guard Randall Hunt is growing, the team is also interested in another Illinois player. According to Pro Football Weekly's Eric Edholm, Bengals linebacker coach Jeff Fitzgerald conducted position drills for linebackers linebackers Martez Wilson and Nate Bussey. New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan also attended the Pro Day, along with four St. Louis representatives, "scouts Luke Driscoll and John Mancini, defensive line coach Brendan Daly and vice president of player personnel Mike Williams", presumably checking out defensive lineman Corey Liuget.

Edholm writes about Wilson.

Wilson then worked next at the linebacker drills, run by Bengals LB coach Jeff FitzGerald. Wilson's hips appeared stiff at first, and his hands came into question when he dropped several potential interceptions. But he finished stronger as the workout went on. Wilson said some of the drills were a bit unfamiliar to him, but he adjusted as they went on.

ESPN's Draft Tracker ranks Wilson as the fifth prospect at outside linebacker grading him as above average in strength, toughness, against the run and size for the position. He's graded as average with instincts, recognition, tackling and college production.

On the other hand, he has red flags.

He missed the entire 2009 season with a herniated disc. In 2008, he was suspended for the season finale against Northwestern for violating team rules. And in December, he was stabbed outside of a bar in Champaign at 2 AM, reportedly, "coming to the aid of a former teammate and head coach Ron Zook said that Wilson did the right thing at the time."

The Bengals could be in desperate need of linebackers in 2011. If Dhani Jones leaves the team for free agency, Rey Maualuga would likely slide over as the team's middle linebacker, leaving a hole for either Roddrick Muckelroy or a player the team drafts this year to fill. And that's provided Muckelroy isn't considered as the middle linebacker, which is a possibility. Brandon Johnson will be a free agent and Dan Skuta, primarily a special teams player, is an Exclusive-Rights free agent. Vincent Rey, signed through 2011, is the team's fourth linebacker signed through 2011.