Mack Wilson isn't worried about proving his doubters wrong. He is, however, focused on winning a spot on the Browns' starting defense during Cleveland's 2019 training camp. 

Wilson, the former standout linebacker at Alabama who fell to the fifth round after being considered a fringe first-round pick leading up to the draft, has been on fire since experiencing a breakthrough during Day 8 of the Browns' 2019 training camp. That day, he recorded his first of three camp interceptions, picking off backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert and running it in for a score. 

Wilson hasn't looked back since that practice. On Tuesday, three days after recording another interception during Cleveland's Orange & Brown scrimmage inside FirstEnergy Stadium, the 6-foot-1, 240-pound inside linebacker picked off veteran quarterback Drew Stanton's pass near the end of a two-hour session. 

Cleveland head coach Freddie Kitchens, when asked about Wilson's recent string of strong practices, said Tuesday that his young defender has reached the third stage of rookie development. 

"One of them is in the spring when they are first initiated," Kitchens said, per the Akron Beacon Journal. "The second is when the minicamps and OTAs start and the speed picks up a little bit. The third, they start swimming again when the pads go on. Things start going a little faster.

"It's a process for those guys. That's why you have training camp is to get some of those things worked out. I've been very pleased with Mack in the last three days. We need to keep stringing days together."

Why did Wilson fall in the draft? Despite his successful run at Alabama, many detractors questioned Wilson's ability to play through contact, his ability to make tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage, and his struggles when it comes to shedding blocks. There were also questions about Wilson's football IQ as well as his overall maturity, both on and off the field. 

It appears that Wilson is answering those questions on a daily basis while making the Browns' selection of him look better and better. For Wilson, he said that the opportunity to play alongside fellow professional football players is bringing out the best in him. 

"I feel like my game can only get better being around pro athletes and being able to get pushed by [defensive assistant coach] Al Holcomb, [defensive coordinator] Steve Wilks and some of the vets -- Joe Schobert, Christian Kirksey, Adarius Taylor, Ray-Ray Armstrong," Wilson said. "If me and Taki [fellow rookie linebacker Sione Takitaki] are messing up plays, they kind of tell us, 'Next play.'"

Speaking of Takitaki, the team's third-round pick out of BYU, his influence on Wilson can't be understated. Wilson told reporters on Tuesday that he often falls asleep to the sound of his roommate reciting the defensive play calls well after practice has concluded.

"After our day is done for the day, we go back to the hotel, pull up the film and just kind of go over it together. Study our plays together so we both can sharpen our game up because we came in together and one day we want to be on the field playing at the same time," Wilson said, per the team's official website. "Our relationship has grown tremendously from rookie camp to now because I feel like he's a brother and I can fully trust him and count on him and we always push one another on the field to just try to be at our best and the best person we can be on and off the field." 

The chemistry between their two rookie linebackers -- both on and off the field -- is a big sign for a Cleveland team that needed a boost at the inside linebacker position. While the Browns' defense did make strides in the right direction in 2018, they finished 25th in pass defense and 31st against the run. The Steelers, arguably the Browns' biggest threat in the battle to win the AFC North, exposed Cleveland's biggest weakness in both of their 2018 matchups. In the Browns' two games against the Steelers, Pittsburgh running back James Conner rushed for 281 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Conner was the biggest reason why the Browns' winless streak against the Steelers reached eight games. 

Cleveland's struggles against the run was among the reasons why they spent two draft picks on Takitaki and Wilson, two relatively underrated rookie linebackers that are looking to contribute to the Browns' first division title since 1989. 

"I love his athleticism," Wilks recently said of Wilson, per "When you look at him out in space, he plays well, good change of direction. When you look at the matchups throughout this league, a lot of times you do not really have safeties that can cover these big tight ends so you need a linebacker that can run. That is the mode that we have right now. He fits that mode right there being able to cover a tight end as well."