The Bengals drafted a cornerback out of Houston in Round 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft and it appears the team is interested in another Cougars defensive back in 2017. Cincinnati had a private meeting with Houston's Brandon Wilson and will be bringing him to Cincinnati for an official pre-draft visit.
The 5’11”, 200 pound cornerback played in the 2017 NFLPA Bowl, was an All-AAC second team selection, named to the Paul Hornung Award Watch List, and is a former teammate and friend of Bengals cornerback William Jackson III.
But, Wilson isn’t only a defensive playmaker, he also contributed on offense and special teams at Houston. In 2015, he actually had 188 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries as well as 49 yards on six catches. He was used less on offense in 2016, but still recorded some statistics with four rushing attempts for six yards and five catches for 52 yards. He’s a dynamic special teams player, too. In 2015 he had 23 kickoff returns for 611 yards (26.6 average) and 2 touchdowns. And in 2016 he contributed 21 kickoff returns for 510 yards (24.3 average). He played in 49 games during his college career, and on defense, finished out his career with 81 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, four sacks, five pass breakups and three fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown).
During his college career, Wilson scored eight touchdowns, in six different ways, in addition to a missed field goal return against Oklahoma. In 2015, he was the only player in the nation to score multiple touchdowns in all three phases of the game with two touchdowns each on offense, defense and special teams. That’s no easy feat and the accomplishment has him garnering recognition as the draft approaches. Beyond the Bengals, he has privately met with the Patriots and Dolphins and will also have a team visit with the Raiders and Texans, in addition to attending Houston’s local pro day.
We spoke with Wilson to get to know the dynamic playmaker ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Cincy Jungle: The Bengals drafted William Jackson III in round 1 last year out of Houston. What was it like playing with him?
Brandon Wilson: It was great playing with Will. I always talk to him and he’s a great guy, just seeing him and where he’s at right now, it motivates me and lets me know I can do it also. He’s someone I really look up to.
CJ: What do you want NFL fans — and coaches — to know about you?
BW: I can play offense, defense and special teams, I can fit in anywhere. And that I have what it takes to play at the next level.
CJ: What kind of work have you done on special teams?
Special teams kickoff returns are what I did at Houston for the last two years. I’ve also done punt returning and been on both special teams coverage units. I’d have no problem with playing special teams in the NFL. I always say, the more you can do the better.
CJ: How are you preparing for the draft?
BW: I went to the NFLPA Bowl and talked to scouts and played in the game with two of my teammates, Greg (quarterback Greg Ward Jr.) and Cam (defensive end Cameron Malveaux). A lot of the guys I train with were there, too, and it was a really great game and fun experience.
I’ve just been working and grinding and getting my body healthy and prepared for whatever is coming my way.
CJ: How was your pro day?
BW: I think I did pretty good for myself at my pro day and ran a 4’3” and did 24 times on the bench press. I feel like I did good for myself. It was fine.
Editor’s note: Wilson did way better than “fine” at his pro day.
- 40 time - 4.36 seconds
- Bench press - 24 reps
- Vertical jump - 41"
- Broad jump- 11'1”
- 3-cone drill- 7.07 seconds
- 20-yard shuttle - 4.31 seconds
If he were at the Combine, that would have ranked him tied for third among cornerbacks in 40-yard time (and tied for fifth overall among all position groups), tied for fourth among cornerbacks in the vertical jump and tied for fifth among cornerbacks in broad jump. His pro day may have pushed him up many teams’ draft boards into the early Day 3 range.
CJ: How do you think coming out of Houston after a year where there was significant hype surrounding the program impacts you in preparing for the draft?
BW: I feel like it’s just showing that we actually have players who can play in the NFL. Some people downplay us in the AAC. But I feel like we’ve shown that guys out of Houston have what it takes to play at the next level.
CJ: How would you describe yourself and the way you play to someone who had never seen you play before?
BW: I’m a fast guy. On defense I’m physical, not scared to hit anybody. As a returner I’m a one of a kind go guy. I can run the ball, I can do it all.
CJ: Which NFL players do you most enjoy watching?
BW: I like watching Patrick Peterson, Adrian Peterson and Devin Hester.
CJ: What are you most proud of from your time in college?
BW: Graduating from college. I was the first one in my household to graduate and I feel like me doing that, the impact on my younger siblings, just showing them that they can go out and achieve their dreams and not just my siblings but everyone from the neighborhood I come from.