Oklahoma cornerback Julian Wilson runs the 40-yard dash for NFL scouts during Oklahoma Pro Day in Norman, Okla.
Oklahoma cornerback Julian Wilson runs the 40-yard dash for NFL scouts during Oklahoma Pro Day in Norman, Okla. (Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

Distraught after breaking his leg during a May rookie minicamp, Ravens undrafted cornerback Julian Wilson was fearing the worst while being carted off the practice field.

Wilson was worried initially that the Ravens might discard him after he got hurt during his first NFL practice. Then, coach John Harbaugh informed Wilson that he was still in the team's plans.


"In the NFL, you can get hurt and get cut and that was the first thing on my mind," Wilson told The Baltimore Sun. "John told me as I was on the stretcher, 'We want you with us to get ready for next year.' That was something positive. By next year around this time, I'll be ready to compete."

The former Oklahoma starter underwent surgery to repair the damage to his leg before being waived-injured and then reverted to the Ravens' injured reserve list.

"I was upset, but, at the end of the day, everything happens for a reason," Wilson said. "God has a plan. You can't question what happens. I can only control what I can control."

Signed to a three-year, $1.467 million contract that included a $9,000 signing bonus after going undrafted, Wilson will receive $318,000 this year while rehabbing his leg. If Wilson had made the 53-man active roster this season, he would have been due a $435,000 minimum base salary.

The Ravens followed the same course last year when wide receiver Jeremy Butler, one of their most impressive players at a June minicamp, injured his shoulder last year and spent his rookie season on injured reserve.

"Julian's injury, while disappointing, could actually be a blessing in disguise," Pikesville-based agent Jonathan Herbst said. "The Ravens have indicated that he is in their long-term plans, and they are doing right by him. So, although he will spend this season on injured reserve, he has an opportunity to be with the team, learn the playbook, and have a chance to come in next year and compete."

Like Butler, Wilson will also receive a full credited season despite not being able to play this year. Wilson is due $525,000 next season.

"The Ravens are the only NFL club that generally does not add 'credited season' language to their undrafted rookie contracts," Herbst said. "The significance of this is that if an undrafted free agent spends his entire rookie year on injured reserve, he's paid like a second year player in Year Two.

"Whereas on any other team, he would be compensated as a rookie since a season on injured reserve does not count as a 'credited season' for minimum salary purposes. In Julian's case, this is potentially a difference of $75,000, assuming he's on the active roster for 16 games next year."

Wilson was one of the Ravens' most heavily recruited undrafted rookies, signing with the team over offers from the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons and Cleveland Browns.  Wilson worked out for the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and Falcons before the draft.

He has prototypical size and speed for an NFL defensive back. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound cornerback has 32 3/8-inch arms, 9 1/4-inch hands and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at his campus Pro Day workout. He bench-pressed 225 pounds 15 times.

A four-star recruit growing up in Oklahoma City, Wilson ran the 100 meters in 10.2 seconds.

An Academic All-Big 12 Conference selection, Wilson started nine games at cornerback last season for the Sooners before missing the Russell Athletic Bowl against Clemson because of an injury. He finished the season with 39 tackles and one interception.

"A priority free agent like Julian has the luxury of being able to choose where he wants to go," Herbst said. "As an agent, I would much rather have my client's second year salary not tied to credited seasons versus an extra couple grand worth of signing bonus.


"Good agents recognize the importance of contract language, and the Ravens generally have the most favorable language when it comes to UDFAs. This is just one reason why the Ravens are a very desirable landing spot for UDFAs. They really are a first-class organization."

Wilson is back in Norman, Okla., rehabbing his leg. He's out of the cast and is getting around in a walking boot. He'll be back in town July 22 when the Ravens' rookies are scheduled to report for training camp and will spend this year rehabbing his leg under the supervision of the team.

"I'm rehabbing and working on my upper body," Wilson said. "No more surgeries. God willing, I'm done with surgeries. I'm digging into the playbook, trying to learn the ins and outs. Learning the nickel this year could give me the opportunity to learn the secondary and compete not only at cornerback, but any other position they need me at."

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