Marquess Wilson entering 2013 NFL Draft

Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

The next step for Marquess Wilson is the NFL. And he's got a long road ahead of him to succeed.

Well now we know what's next for Marquess Wilson, at least. After his career at Washington State came to an end in a way I'm not sure anyone could have predicted, it was unknown whether Wilson would have to do a quick image and NFL Draft stock rehabilitation tour or if he'd jump right into the draft. If Wilson had decided to continue his college playing days, he would've either had to sit out a year to play major college football or transfer down. None of that matters now, though.

Wilson has hired an agent and will enter the 2013 NFL Draft -- a logical move no matter the circumstances of his departure. It was wildly assumed that this past season would be his last at Washington State, and it was ... though the way it ended veered off course just a bit.

The former Washington State wide receiver does have some image rehabilitation to do as the draft nears, and his draft stock most certainly isn't what it once was. The physical talent is there, and always has been, but the maturity and character questions will persist. Accusations of a lacking work ethic and the manner in which Wilson left Washington State are clear red flags -- which general managers will certainly be vetting through the process.

I think Wilson can recover from the allegations of abuse and letter. When it comes to that ordeal, I do feel for him in a way. From all indications, he was coached -- given bad advice which blew up in his face. A draft prospect can overcome and explain away bad advice.

The bigger problem for Wilson is his work ethic, and even that can be spun. He struggled this past season as more was being asked in him. He has a switch -- something quarterback Jeff Tuel explained as the star wide receiver needing a kick in the butt at times. When it's on, he's great. But it's not always on, especially not in practice.

The NFL is a whole different ballgame. Wilson can -- and did -- get by in college with raw talent. The NFL is filled with raw talents who work their asses off to succeed. It's a cutthroat game that demands execution at a high-level at all times. Wilson is going to have to prove he's ready for it.

Right now, our own Dan Kadar has Wilson as the 15th-best wide receiver in the draft. Instead of hitting a payday and being taken early in the draft, Wilson's going to have to put in work. The way things look right now, he'll come off the board later in the draft, then have to fight for his spot. Things can change, though, and Wilson has a chance to erase some of the doubts with a strong run-up to the draft -- at the Combine, in workouts and, especially, in interviews.

I will root for Wilson to succeed, to be drafted high, and to have a long NFL career. His actions may have hurt Washington State, but I still have a soft spot for the man -- and I do believe he followed through on some bad advice that will prove incredibly costly to his future. If he can battle back, all the more power to him.

But now, we'll see what Wilson is made of. What happens over the next few months and beyond will say a lot about Wilson. If he fights through and works hard, he can make it and have a long NFL career. If not, this will go down as a pretty sad story for all parties involved.

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