The 2022 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and the Atlanta Falcons have quickly become one of the most intriguing teams to watch in this year’s event. There are a number of ways the Falcons can go with their No. 8 overall pick, and they’ve got five of the top 82 picks in this draft.
In the lead-up to this important draft for Atlanta, we’re going to be providing our evaluations of some of the top prospects. For those unfamiliar with our process, we’re using Kevin Knight’s own grading system, which you can read about here. This system is still in development and minor tweaks may be made as more data is available.
Today’s prospect is Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson. Perhaps the most athletic receiver in this class, Wilson was an electric playmaker in college and gave defenses fits all over the field. Wilson is a fun player to watch on tape, but there are some technical problems for him to correct at the next level. Let’s dive into it.
WR | Garrett Wilson | Ohio State | #5
Games watched: Penn State, Oregon, Michigan State
Garrett Wilson is in the conversation to be the first wide receiver off the board in April’s NFL Draft, and for good reason. He possesses elite athletic traits, allowing him to beat defenders with deep speed, dime-stopping agility and spectacular body control. Wilson needs some development in the more refined aspects of playing receiver, but he has the athletic ceiling to become a star at the next level.
When it comes to catching the ball, Wilson plucks it away from his body with strong hands. He displays good vision when tracking the ball, and he is willing to make tough catches over the middle. Perhaps Wilson’s most eye-catching trait is his body control. Whether leaping into the air or closing on the sideline, Wilson can contort his body to reach the ball wherever it is, which allows him to play with a much greater catch radius than his size would suggest.
Size might be the biggest issue for Wilson in the NFL, but there have been plenty of receivers of that stature who have thrived. Press coverage has proven to be an issue for Wilson at times, and that could continue to be a problem for him at the next level if he’s not schemed in a way that minimizes a team’s chances to disrupt his release.
Wilson projects as a great run-after-catch receiver who possesses the deep speed to take the top off of a defense. His short-to-intermediate route running may take a short time to fully develop, but he showcases great separation skills when working back towards the line of scrimmage. Wilson’s game is reminiscent of T.Y. Hilton’s with the potential to be a more diverse route runner.
Top-notch speed to get on a corner’s toes quickly. Dangerous deep threat when given a clean release. Wilson shows great manipulation of his speed while running routes and after the catch.
Displays an elite start/stop ability. Paired with his elite speed, Wilson’s agility leaves defenders grasping at air. Agility is apparent after the catch and makes him a good screen/reverse candidate.
Catch Ability: 7
Possesses exceptional body control, which expands his catch radius greatly. Some drops on tape, but he routinely makes difficult catches look easy. Plucks the ball out of the air and tracks the ball well over his shoulder on deep routes.
Route Running: 6
Wilson’s speed and acceleration helped him win often, but his route-running technique still needs polish. Understands boundary leverage and gains outside space by setting up inside moves.
Listed at just under 6 feet tall, and weighing 183 pounds, Wilson doesn’t have notable size entering the league. Physicality isn’t a big part of his game. His jumping ability allows him to play bigger than he is.
Doesn’t show a false step. Wilson faced off coverage often due to his speed. Late out of the blocks at times when Ohio State goes quickly. Can be disrupted by good press coverage.
Shows more explosiveness on tape than his testing results would suggest. A threat to score at any point in the game. Leaping ability to challenge for the toughest catches.
Yards After Catch: 7
Has the required traits to be a threat after the catch in the NFL. Displays good vision with the ball in his hands. Stops suddenly and accelerates quickly to change direction before defenders can catch up.
A 1,000-yard receiver with 12 touchdowns in his final year. Part of a very crowded receiver room during his college career. Production increased in each of his three seasons. Played in both the slot and out wide.
Effort varies as a blocker, but it’s largely not there. He doesn’t have the size to overpower defensive backs and could use improvement in this area.
Athleticism: 7.7, 15/20
Wilson’s Relative Athletic Score takes a hit due to his poor size measurables, but this score undersells his sublime combination of speed, acceleration and body control. Were this a bit higher, our grade would reflect Wilson as a first-rounder, which is likely where he belongs.