2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Garrett Wilsonby Brady Podloski January 13, 2022 10 comments
In an August 2019 interview, wide receiver coach Brian Hartline echoed, “Garrett Wilson is not even close to scratching the surface [of his potential]”. At the time, Wilson would be a true freshman who showed flashes of potential and playmaking. Fast forward to 2021, Hartline’s coaching and fundamentals have surfaced in Wilson’s play. In short, Wilson and other Ohio State receivers are taught NFL-level nuances when running routes, including leverages, boxing out on routes, stems, misdirection, and stacking. Wilson does all of this and more, and his polished game should let him hit the ground running in the NFL.
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Name: Garrett Wilson
Jersey: No. 5
Position: Wide Receiver
School: Ohio State
Weight: 192 lbs
Games Watched: Clemson (2020), Oregon (2021), Rutgers (2021), Indiana (2021), Michigan State (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Hands/Ball Security (9/10)
Wilson squeezes the ball, ensuring it is secure even when there is no defender around. When defenders get a hand on him, Wilson can fight through contact, allowing him to secure the catch in difficult situations. While Wilson had five drops on the year, they were because he looked to generate yardage after the catch; instead of securing the pass. He tends to try to maximize his yardage. There will be almost no drops in the NFL.
Contested Catch (8.25/10)
Wilson can highpoint a ball with ease. Wilson uses his strong arms and hands and has demonstrated high-level contested catch ability. However, he separated so much that the added space gave him time to prepare to make a contested catch. As NFL defenders are quicker and stronger, his ability to prepare and secure a contested catch may need refinement. Overall, the contested catch isn’t necessarily where Wilson will make his money, as he’s much better at separating. But when push comes to shove, Wilson can make plays at the catch point.
Tracking/Body Control (9.5/10)
The tracking, body control, and Wilson’s ability to adjust are special and one of his most underrated traits. Wilson shows a high-level ability to work through contact to adjust to back-shoulder throws and on errantly throw passes. His use of body positioning shows up on all facets of his game, including route running where he’s able. His body control shows up on speed-outs. It also includes route running, where he remains low while making breaks on slants. Will correct bad throws with body control.
Route Running (10/10)
The little nuances of route running are special for Wilson. He excels at high-level concepts, including beating shade, boxing out defenders, stacking, and stemming. He simply finds creative ways to beat shade and box-out defenders. Wilson wins the leverage battle against cornerbacks, meaning he’s always in a better position to make a play on the ball. Wilson is precise in his route depth and break-points, but he is also willing to scramble for quarterbacks and does not give up on plays.
Wilson also has a knack for winning hand fights throughout the route when the defender gets hands on him. One play stands out in particular against Michigan State, where Wilson beats the corner clearly off the line, then explodes upfield on a go route. He created so much space that the defender was nowhere close to him, yet he naturally fought off the hands of the defender. This shows the high-level nuance Wilson runs his routes with and illustrates his route running will be something that translates to the NFL.
The ability to separate is not only pro-ready but will be special in the NFL. Wilson’s deception for each route is extremely impressive as it looks natural, effortless, and concise. In addition, the ability to work through contact, modulate his speed, and get in and out of breaks threatens all levels of the football field, making man-coverage difficult. When all else fails and defenders had to commit defensive pass interference, Wilson showed the intelligence to subtly push off to generate extra space.
Wilson can control the line of scrimmage despite being less than 195 pounds. Wilson’s go-to release move was quickness and tactful use of hand usage when defenders attempted to put their hands on him. He possesses elite quickness and suddenness by NFL standards, and this should translate to the NFL. Overall, his hand usage is advanced for a college prospect, as he does an excellent job preventing corners from getting hands inside or even on him. NFL Defenders may catch Wilson off-guard the odd time in his first year, but Wilson projects to be good with his release packages in the NFL.
Run After the Catch (8.75/10)
The ability to catch the ball and adjust quickly allows Wilson the opportunity to get upfield right after he secures the catch. While Wilson has a habit of holding the ball loosely, he will tuck it when contact is around. His awareness as a ball carrier makes him an effective threat to get the first down. Wilson’s go-to moves when making defenders miss is his exceptional short-area quickness and suddenness. He is elusive in space, showing the ability to make the defender miss close. Overall, Wilson will bring a dynamic element to any offense through his ability to generate good yardage after the catch.
Vertical Speed (8.5/10)
Wilson should run in the 4.4s in the 40-yard dash. One of Wilson’s best traits is how he controls and modulates his speed. As a functional athlete, he does not possess elite speed, but he can win on vertical routes through his nuance in route running, deception, control over his speed, and quickness in and out of breaks.
Ultimately, Wilson possesses unbelievable control over his body in his speed, acceleration, and suddenness. His ability to modulate his speed off the line of scrimmage feeds into the deception he uses play to play. While the top-end speed might not be elite, his burst in and out of breaks, along with the acceleration, is incredible. Wilson will ultimately control leverages and generate separation on his routes because of his burst and acceleration.
Wilson isn’t a freak of nature athlete in terms of speed. However, the elite athlete in Wilson is the body control, and every movement is purposeful. Similar to Alvin Kamara (not his comparison), he sprints effortlessly and appears to not be moving full speed, when in fact, he’s beating defenders with his speed. Moreover, Wilson’s suddenness and quickness appear in all aspects of his game, including his run after the catch and route running.
Sometimes, Wilson’s blocking can be good. Other times, Wilson does not take the correct angle and gets boxed out. He has blocked cornerbacks well enough to spring long runs. Wilson doesn’t have the power or stability to drive cornerbacks back despite being in a good position. Overall the blocking could improve through technique, block breakdown, and the angles he takes.
Wilson can threaten the defense from every wide receiver position. As an outside receiver, he’ll be able to generate space through routes and find spaces in zone coverage. As a slot receiver, linebackers and nickel defenders will find it difficult to match up in man-to-man coverage against him. Overall, he projects to play on the outside as his quickness off the line of scrimmage is electric and will give NFL defenders in press-man a difficult time.
Ultimately, the concerns about Wilson are because he generated so much separation in college and that on many catches, he had additional time brace and adjust for contact. Mainly, the slight concerns are if he can continue to make contested catches at a high level. Yet the traits exhibited at Ohio State suggest he can make a quick transition and be a dynamic element to any NFL offense.
Overall, Wilson is a top talent in this year’s draft. A player like Wilson is what the NFL is trending toward. He generates significant separation through deception, suddenness, and nuances, including attack shade. These generate open throwing lanes by boxing out and body control. With a similar build and playstyle as Stefon Diggs, there is a way for Wilson to win in the NFL.
Rookie Projection: Starting Outside Receiver
Third Year Projection: Top-10 Wide Receiver
Final Grade (91/100): Potential Top-10 Pick
Player Comp: Stefon Diggs
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