Wilson lands with Packers|Former Northside, ECU star picked in seventh round

Published 12:50 pm Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sports Editor

BELHAVEN — C.J. Wilson went through a gamut of emotions over the last three days — elation, hopefulness, anger, sadness, relief and happiness.
Though he was hoping to hear his name called much higher, Wilson was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the seventh round with the 230th overall pick of the NFL Draft. The former Northside High School and East Carolina star was thrilled to finally land with a team.
“It’s a great opportunity to go play for the Green Bay Packers,” Wilson said following Saturday’s draft from inside his father’s church at Mount Olive Pentecostal Faith Church. “I’m ready to see what I can do.
“I’m happy I got drafted. It was always a dream of mine to get drafted. Green Bay, here I come. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to go there and play.”
The affable 6-3, 290-pound defensive end had a message for the Packers, and for those teams that passed him up.
“My thought was, whoever got me was getting a good player,” said Wilson, who was informed about his selection after getting calls from Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson. “Everybody that didn’t get me is going to wish they got me.”
Wilson, who finished his college career with 27 sacks, 45.5 tackles-for-loss, 36 quarterback hurries, four blocked kicks and 192 tackles, was projected to go as high as the third round. When defensive end after defensive end was drafted before him, it started to weigh on Wilson.
“I got angry and I got down,” Wilson said. “My mom and dad and my family would just say, ‘hold on and have faith that somebody is going to get you.’ It’s all in God’s hands. I just thank my family for never giving up on me.
“This was a very stressful process. I’m very relieved that it’s over with. I’m mentally, socially and physically exhausted.”
According to Packers.com, Thompson was happy to draft Wilson.
“I have no idea (why Wilson dropped to the seventh round),” Thompson noted. “I talked to him briefly before we turned the card in, and he's pretty fired up to show people everybody made a mistake. We liked him a lot.
“Brian Gutekunst scouts in that area. His dad worked at East Carolina this year towards the end of the season, and we felt like we knew him very well. He's a very impressive player. We had him higher on our board than where he wound up going.”
Wilson, a Conference USA Defensive-Player-of-the-Year with the Pirates, realized in a hurry that the NFL is a business.
“This is very much a business,” Wilson said. “You get calls from people saying they are going to take you and then they don’t take you. I know it’s a business and I know I’m going to have to work hard.
“Every round higher you go, the smaller the chance you have of proving yourself. I know it’s going to be hard work, but that’s what I was built around under Skip Holtz at East Carolina. I’m ready for it.”
The Packers went 11-5 last year, finishing second in the NFC North. Wilson will join a defensive unit comprised of such players as Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk.
He’s hoping to fit into a team that played a ‘3-4’ defensive front last year. Dom Capers is Green Bay’s defensive coordinator.
“I’m a versatile player,” Wilson said. “I can play inside, outside and special teams. I can pretty much play all four defensive line positions, and I can play on special teams. I think I can bring a lot to the table.”
Wilson will have a chance to play relatively close to home when the Packers play at the Washington Redskins on Oct. 10.
Wilson will learn more about the team and the organization when he heads to Green Bay for a three-day rookie mini camp on Thursday.
“I know I’m going to have to work a lot harder,” Wilson said. “I know the speed of the game is faster. I’m going to have to learn the playbook. And it’s all going to be about technique.
“I’m ready for the challenge.”
Wilson will enter mini camp with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
“I’m very angry because I wanted to come off the board a lot higher,” Wilson said. “It makes me a lot hungrier. I’ll play with a vengeance.”
Wilson believes that being picked later than expected may be a blessing in disguise.
“It doesn’t matter where you go; it matters when you get there,” Wilson said. “It’s all about what you do once you get there.
“Knowing I got drafted so late, I can use that as motivation. I have something to prove.”
Wilson plans on making an immediate impact with the Packers.
“It’s all about productivity in the NFL,” Wilson said. “I want to make the team and I want to be in a rotation. I don’t want to sit the bench. Nobody does.
“You want to go there and play, maybe even start. I’m just going to bring it my all.”