ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – The challenging transition from college to a complex West Coast offense apparently doesn’t apply to rookie wide receiver Albert Wilson.
Wilson, an undrafted free agent out of Georgia State, has quickly emerged through 11 training camp practices.
The 22-year-old receiver now finds himself working with the first-team offense at the slot or in four-receiver sets during team-related drills.
And it’s no easy accomplishment considering the Chiefs have 13 wide receivers in training camp.
“For an undrafted rookie receiver to come in and not just mentally grasp it – we move him around – and he really physically is gifted and made a lot of plays out here,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “He’s been impressive. He’s had a great start to camp.”
Backup quarterback Chase Daniel agreed.
“Coach (Andy) Reid’s offense is very wordy,” Daniel said. “A lot of things are going on every play, so for him to come out here every day and have very little mental errors is impressive.”
Of course, Wilson had the benefit of adjusting to the Chiefs offense during rookie minicamp, organized team activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp before training camp.
He’s also taken advantage of repetitions with Junior Hemingway missing eight straight practices with a hamstring injury. A.J. Jenkins missed three practices with a hamstring injury before returning Monday, while Mark Harrison continues to rest a hamstring injury.
Still, the native of Port St. Lucie, Fla., didn’t see this initial success.
“Not this early,” Wilson said. “But, of course, working hard will get you there.”
Wilson said he learned in college how to approach preparation, and his teacher happens to be a former NFL player who spent time with the Chiefs in 2011.
“I’ve been taught that from my wide receiver coach, Keary Colbert,” Wilson said. “He just told me to stay in my playbook, and I figured being able to know exactly what you have to do, you play a lot better. If I know exactly what I can do with my speed, it will turn out good for me.”
Wilson, listed at 5-9, 200 pounds, brings more than work ethic.
The Chiefs have an explosive weapon with Wilson, who possesses 4.36 40-yard dash speed. He was involved in six of the seven longest plays from scrimmage in Georgia State history. He also recorded 10 scoring plays from 70 yards or more, and notched 21 plays of 50-plus yards.
Wilson left as the school’s all-time leading receiver with 175 catches for 3,190 yards and 23 touchdowns, averaging an eye-popping 18.2 yards per catch.
That production should serve the Chiefs well whether he’s at the slot or outside.
“With my size on the safeties and linebacker I feel like that’s a good matchup,” Wilson said. “My career in college was on the outside, so I’m really comfortable with both of them.”
Wilson said he obtains advice on technique from the Chiefs’ veterans, namely the team’s starting wide receivers, to help his transition against NFL cornerbacks.
“I learned off-the-line moves when they’re in press from Dwayne Bowe,” Wilson said. “Quickness to get around (defenders) to lower my shoulders from Donnie Avery.”
Wilson also offers versatility on special teams. He proved dangerous as a college kickoff returner where he recorded 94 returns for 2,313 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with 41 punt returns for 376 yards.
He holds the school record for longest kickoff return (100 yards) and punt return (62). And Wilson has rotated with the Chiefs returners during special teams drills in training camp.
“I’m looking forward to being on kickoffs,” Wilson said. “I can use my speed to get down there really quick and do a lot of damage. I think our kickoff team will do really well with the speed we have.”
The Chiefs continue to explore Wilson’s capabilities and he’s earned respect based on training camp performances.
The next step for Wilson is applying everything to preseason action, and the first opportunity arrives Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I’m looking forward to this coming week in our game against Cincinnati to see how he carries over to the field,” quarterback Chase Daniel said.