The pre-draft process is always interesting, particularly for teams picking high in the draft. We’ve heard the Falcons connected to seemingly every first-round receiver, along with the vast majority of the top quarterback prospects—and that’s just scratching the surface. Outside the top guys, however, the team is doing extensive work on a huge number of potential Day 3 picks and priority UDFAs to attempt to find “diamonds in the rough” in the later rounds of the draft.
One of those such players is UTSA edge rusher Charles Wiley, a toolsy prospect with elite athletic testing and an ideal frame for a 3-4 OLB. The Falcons have shown interest in Wiley thus far, inviting the Georgia native—he grew up and played high school ball in Stockbridge—to Atlanta’s local Pro Day on April 11. I had a chance to sit down and talk with Wiley about his experience training for the 2022 NFL Draft, his game, his motivations, and what it would be like to play professional football close to home.
Wiley is currently projected as a Day 3 prospect, but where he falls in that range is up-in-the-air. There are definitely other teams interested in Wiley’s talents, like the Bears, who could consider drafting him. Football Gameplan’s Emory Hunt is particularly high on Wiley, praising his power at the point-of-attack, his football IQ and instincts, and his non-stop motor. Hunt has Wiley graded in the Day 3 range as his #11 OLB overall.
Over the past two seasons at UTSA—he spent his first three years at Ole Miss before transferring—Wiley piled up 79 total tackles (36 solo), 19.0 TFL, 5.5 sacks, and 2 PDs. Wiley’s athletic profile is impressive and certainly good enough to get him looks in the later rounds of the draft, as he scored an 8.7 RAS with some elite testing in terms of his long speed.
Here are some of the best quotes from my interview with Wiley, but I definitely encourage you to watch it for yourself.
Kevin Knight: I suspect you’ve had a busy offseason thus far. What have you been doing to prepare for the draft process?
Charles Wiley: “The biggest thing is making sure that I’m in the best shape, whatever team calls me, whenever the opportunity may be, so that when I get there, I can just go and get to work.”
KK: What are some of your best traits, and what makes you stand out as a prospect?
CW: “I think I’m a great athlete, extremely fast and explosive. But I think my work ethic is unmatched. After the bowl game this season, I probably took a week off. Then got right back to work. Biggest thing is that I work day-in and day-out to get ahead of the game and excel at everything that I do. Whether that be film study, position work, getting my body correct, I take everything extremely seriously.”
KK: What’s your favorite aspect of playing football?
CW: “Just being able to test your manhood, to test yourself as a person every day. Going up against all odds and still being able to prevail.”
KK: Any players you model your game after?
CW: “You always look at the greats—LT, Demarcus Ware—guys who laid the foundation for the position that I play. My old position coach actually coached Melvin Ingram, and he kept telling me that I reminded him [of Ingram]. Once I studied his game, I realized ‘wow, I really do follow after this dude.’ Very versatile, extremely strong at the point of contact, extremely fast, you can put him anywhere on the field and he can ball out.”
KK: You played your high school ball at Stockbridge, just outside Atlanta. How would it feel to get to play close to home in the NFL?
CW: “That would be great. It’s always cool, being able to be around the environment I grew up in. I remember coming up as a kid, my father would get season tickets [to the Falcons]. It’s really close to home, and it would be really cool.”
KK: Have you always wanted to play pro football? Any other big interests?
CW: “It was all football. That was all it really was for me. Make sure I could go to school to get my degree, and play football. That was it. Don’t really have any major side-hustles or hobbies, it’s 100% football for me.”
KK: Anything else you’d like fans to know about you?
CW: “Biggest thing is, I’m 100% devoted to whatever team gets me. I’m a man first, but I’m a football player before anything else. I try my best to be a stand-up person, and a very good person to those around me.”