(Image credit: Mike Moraitis/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick
When talking about a draft bust there are many different definitions of labeling a player a bust. To me when I label a player a draft bust it is a player that was drafted in any round of the draft and failed to meet expectations that have been placed on the player. To me it doesn't matter where you are drafted, if you fail to meet expectations that have been placed on you as a high or mid-round draft pick then you have busted in the NFL. A big bust in the NFL is normally placed on 1st round draft picks (Unless you are the New York Jets that selected Christian Hackenburg in the second round). In the latest years of the draft, some have labeled players like WR Kevin White (2015 7th overall Chicago Bears), WR Corey Coleman (2016 15th overall Cleveland Browns), WR John Ross (2017 9th overall Bengals), QB Josh Rosen (2018 10th overall Cardinals), QB Dwayne Haskins (2019 NFL Draft 15th overall Washington). Those are big busts but at least they played more than one game in the NFL. So When looking at the 2020 NFL Draft to see who the biggest bust in that draft class is and so far it is offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson. Let's take a look at the journey of offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson's football career and look at his rise in football to being a fall from grace in the NFL and a look into his possible comeback into the league.
Isaiah Wilson was a 5-star recruit in High School during his time in Poly Prep that is located in Brooklyn, NY. There were a lot of teams that were willing to recruit Wilson including Alabama University and Michigan University. But Isaiah Wilson had made the decision to be a part of Georgia University. While he did redshirt his freshman year he was extremely impressive throughout his college career and was an anchor on the offensive line. He was so good that according to Pro Football Focus he only allowed 9 pressures throughout his college career. That is extremely impressive for someone to do and he only missed a total of two games due to an ankle issue. But what also impressed me was his position versatility where he was lined up at both left and right tackle and I remembered seeing him at guard during his early years which helped develop his run and pass blocking skills. This guy had the tools that you want to be selected in the first round in the draft so it was not a surprise that he declared for the NFL Draft.
The 2020 NFL Draft
The 2020 NFL draft was going to be the weirdest draft ever as the Pandemic hit. The NFL draft took place in commissioner Roger Goodell’s basement. When looking at this draft class not only was it a class full of talented receivers throughout this draft but it was a draft in the first round full of talented offensive linemen. Look at the talented o-lineman that went in the first round Andrew Thomas 4th overall to the New York Giants, Jedrick Willis 10th overall to the Cleveland Browns, Mekhi Becton 11th overall to the New York Jets, Tristen Wirfs 13th overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Austin Jackson 18th overall to the Miami Dolphins, and Cesar Ruiz 24th Overall to the New Orleans Saints. Finally, the last offensive lineman who was taken in the first round was Isaiah Wilson who was selected 29th overall by the Tennessee Titans who was the replacement for Jack Conklin. While some projected him being a 2nd round pick there was no question that Isaiah Wilson had the tools of being a first-round pick. He had good size, smooth footwork, was a consistent blocker and had a ton of strength overpowering defenders. Now there was some work that needed to be done with Wilson as he doesn't have the best posture and was a bit sloppy with his hand techniques but could be cleaned up during training camp.
Tennessee Titans 2020 Training Camp
During the beginning of training camp, the cracks were starting to show as he was immediately placed on the Covid-19 list which delayed the signing of his rookie contract and getting proper reps to help develop him. Then came the first arrest on August 15th and this was not a good look for Isaiah Wilson at all as he was at an on-campus party at Tennessee State University where he received a warning from campus release where he was trespassing. Not only was he not supposed to be there but in his party, there was drug usage, and what he did just shocked me as he evaded police by almost jumping off a second-story balcony. Can you imagine if Isaiah Wilson actually went through with jumping off a second-story balcony in order to evade being captured by the police? He could have gotten severely hurt and ended his career right there if things went badly, which thank goodness he did not jump off it. But the situation was mainly handled internally by the Titans organization which I think was a big mistake.
2020 NFL Season
So then before the first game of the season happened Isaiah Wilson was once again placed on the Covid list when the Titans assembled their 53 man roster. But not even a week passed and news came out that Isaiah Wilson was arrested for driving under the influence. We hear this all the time with other players in the league driving under the influence. In this case, I looked into this and this is crazy what he did as this was not a usual drive. He was caught doing donuts with his car and crashing into a concrete wall while driving under the influence. Again another bad decision where he could have harmed not only others doing this but by himself doing actions like this. So we had him potentially jumping off a second-story building, doing donuts, and crashing into a wall while driving under the influence. At that point, I knew that the Titans had a big issue with Isaiah Wilson.
Now later on in the season we finally got to see his debut in the NFL where he faced the Indianapolis Colts where he played only a total of 4 snaps in the NFL three on offense and 1 on special teams. It was a step forward in his player development but little did we all know these would be the only snaps that he would play as a Tennessee Titan. Possibly for the rest of his football career in the NFL. It is now December where he would be suspended from the Cleveland Browns game due to him violating a team rule which is never a good sign at all and it showed how much of a locker room distraction that he became. Wilson was later in the month placed on the Non-Football Illness list due to “personal issues’’.
Now, remember where I said that the earlier arrests were crazy. We now get into his arrest in January and this is just unbelievable what happens. Wilson was arrested after going in a high-speed chase where he went over 140 miles per hour. That is around the level NASCAR drivers drive in certain races which is just crazy that he did that alone. To make it worse he was charged with fleeing from police, drug possession including acid and marijuana, reckless driving, reckless conduct, and speeding in a construction zone. There are no excuses for what he did in January and to me, this showed that the bad decisions would just never stop. When I heard that he did this I was just shocked. This was the moment where I knew that he was more of a liability being on the Tennessee Titans roster.
Not only was his off-the-field issues out of control but he was starting to be a cancer in the locker room where Star Offensive Lineman Taylor Lewan spoke out saying that the kid needs help. Taylor Lewan was right Isaiah Wilson clearly needed to get help as he continued to make many dumb mistakes and was getting more and more immature. When a guy like Taylor Lewan is speaking out about Wilson saying that the kid needs help. That goes to show how disruptive he was in the locker room. This event led to GM Jon Robinson admitting that this was not the same player that they met with last season. Now how does Isaiah Wilson respond to this well by Tweeting that he is done playing as a Titan. It was at this point where GM Jon Robinson had to cut ties with Isaiah Wilson. It didn’t matter how they did it the question that was now being discussed is When the team officially moved on from him. Luckily there was trade interest for a player who not even a year ago at the time was a 1st round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Trade to the Miami Dolphins
There were a few teams that had an interest in Wilson and the team that acquired his services was the Miami Dolphins. So on March 8th, 2021 the Tennessee Titans traded Isaiah Wilson and a 2022 7th round pick for a 7th round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. This trade to me was very telling as the Titans wanted to cut tiles with him as he was a problem to the culture of the locker room and the organization. He did not want to play with the Tennessee Titans at all and at least they got some value for Isaiah Wilson. The Dolphins needed o-line help and were looking to build a foundation to protect Tua Tagovailoa. which is a great decision as investing in the o-line protects the tremendous investment of a franchise quarterback and strengthens how good the offense is. Look at the success of the Cleveland Browns today. During the Freddie Kitchens year, the Browns had two starting offensive linemen one being an undrafted free agent in Desmond Harrison who was terrible and the other being Greg Robinson, a former top 5 1st round pick that busted with the St. Louis Rams and no surprise was terrible with the Browns as well. Once Head Coach Freddie Kitchens and GM John Dorsey were fired the new staff including GM Andrew Berry and Head Coach Kevin Stefanski realized the importance of having a good offensive line. So the Browns Signed Jack Conklin in free agency, trading for Wyatt Teller and Justin McCray, and drafting OT Jedrick Willis from Alabama. That heavily improved their offense and look at what happened they finally made the playoffs and beat the Steelers in the playoffs without Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (Again Why is Mike Tomlin still the Head Coach of the Steelers Again?). Now The Browns are labeled as Super Bowl Contenders which is a sentence I would never think I would write about ever. I don’t think that they would be here without a good o-line and a solid coaching staff. It is extremely important for a team to build the o-line and that's what the Dolphins attempted to do by acquiring Isaiah Wilson via trade from the Tennessee Titans.
His Miami Dolphins Tenure
After getting what Isaiah Wilson wanted you think he would do anything he can to impress the coaching staff as he now had a fresh start right, Nope. What he decides to do is to show up late for his physical and orientation and blow off the commitments he made to the Dolphins where he promised to participate in voluntary workouts. To make it worse was the reason why Wilson showed up late and blew off his commitments from the team. On the same day he told the Dolphins he would be there he went onto social media and posted multiple videos of himself dancing with no shirt, on top of a truck, and was smoking a vape many times. Think about that, think about how bad of a decision that is to post something like that on social media of all places at the same time you were supposed to be somewhere extremely important. Especially in a new environment where you were brought in to do a job that you committed to them that you would do. Keep in mind Wilson no longer has any leverage after he was traded for a 7th round pick. He is now expendable as the Miami Dolphins did not sacrifice a ton of resources to acquire him like the Tennessee Titans did. So it was not a surprise that the Miami Dolphins decided to release him as with a move like this it showed that he doesn't care and did not want to play football at that moment.
I mean you talk about a fall from grace here is a guy who went from a first-round pick not even a year ago. Had a ton of potential of being a solid starter in the league. To add to the potential that he had, he was gifted a starting role on this team. He was going to replace Jack Conklin as the starting right tackle after the Titans failed to sign him in free agency. This guy had the world in his hands. Then not even four months later the continuous arrest started where he was arrested for trespassing which was handled internally by the Tennessee Titans. It was clear Wilson did not learn his lesson as three weeks later he was arrested for a DUI. The immaturity from Wilson continued throughout the season where he played 4 snaps the entire season due to team suspensions, being placed on the Covid list, and getting arrested by the police plus being charged with seven different felonies. Then he lost all faith in GM Jon Robinson and the entire Titans organization after he tweeted that he wanted no part of the team. The Titans decided to trade him to the Miami Dolphins and Wilson didn’t last long after showing up late to meetings that he committed to being at. Now he was out of a job not even a year away from being drafted. Quite a fall from grace for Isaiah Wilson. He will in my opinion be the biggest draft bust in Titans history. Say what you want about QB Marcus Mariota, QB Jake Locker, OL Chance Warmack, RB Bishop Sankey, RB Chris Henry, CB Andre Woolfork, DL Kevin Dodd, and WR Dorial Green-Beckham. At least they played multiple games with the Tennessee Titans. With Isaiah Wilson, he only played a total of 4 snaps in a single game for the team as a first-round pick. Not only will he be the biggest bust in Titans history but he is definitely a consideration for being one of the biggest draft busts in recent NFL history.
Possible third chance - Tryout with the Indianapolis Colts
I hate to end articles that I write on a negative note. Luckily a few days ago some positive news came out where Isaiah Wilson did get another shot where he had a workout with the Indianapolis Colts. Say what you want about Isaiah Wilson but I wish him all the best with his third chance and hopefully, he matured enough to make a bigger impact by getting on the field whether it is on a practice squad or the main 53 man roster. Remember Tony Mandarich, did not play football for a total of 5 years due to his ramped immaturity and steroid abuse. He still got another chance in the NFL with ironically the Colts and he was solid during his tenure with the team. So it is not impossible for a player to come back, mature, and perform well with another chance in the NFL. I just hope Isaiah Wilson can get an opportunity to go back to the NFL so he can showcase his talent on the field and prove that he has matured enough to play in the league. If he does not join an NFL team, I have a strong feeling that if he has matured and wants to play football that Isaiah Wilson could join the XFL in 2023 or the USFL (Whenever their league officially kicks off). But it will be interesting to see how this could potentially play out and like I said I wish him a ton of luck and that he can turn around his football career.