In our Scouting Reports, we will give you a quick debrief to get you the information you need to know. We’ll also take it a step further and provide an in-depth review showing off examples of what we like, and what we don’t. Included is a date from the initial scouting report, this is so new notes can be added as the year goes on. Those new notes will be dated as well. With that, welcome to the Garrett Wilson scouting report!
Today, we’re looking at Garrett Wilson, just one of the many outstanding WRs to strut their stuff at Ohio State. Ohio State has had a load of NFL caliber receivers recently, and Wilson – along with Chris Olave – are two more studs for the ’22 draft class.
Details: Garrett Wilson | WR | Ohio State #5
DOB: 07.22.2000 | 21 years old
H/W: 6’0” | 193 lbs
NFL Draft Projection:
Late 1st round pick – There’s a handful of receivers who can legitimately vie for the top WR spot in this draft. Wilson is certainly one of them. In his time at Ohio State, he’s showcased himself as an explosive two-way player in the slot, a dangerous deep threat on the outside, and a dependable chain-mover whenever he’s on the field. I think if he can stay healthy he’s got a shot to be the one of the first receivers taken in the ’22 draft.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – 1QB:
Mid 1st round pick – We typically see Running Backs drive to the top of rookie draft boards come time to draft, often at the expense of very good WRs. I think Wilson will be one of those who falls a little. I’d project he gets taken somewhere around pick 5-8 in most 1QB drafts.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – Superflex/2QB:
Late 1st round pick – While 3-4 QBs will likely go before Wilson, along with the obligatory 2-3 RBs, he should still squeeze into the back-half of the 1st round for 2QB/SF rookie drafts. He’s a prime candidate for the area around picks 8-10, which is great news for playoff teams looking to add talent to push them over the top.
10.21.2021 edit: Projections were updated to include Dynasty Rookie Draft projections, in addition to NFL Draft projection.
At this stage, Garrett Wilson is not the perfect receiver prospect. Wilson has a couple flaws, but they’re few, they’re relatively minor, and they’re correctable.
Blocking certainly isn’t Wilson’s strong suit. He’s a spark-plug when the run goes up the middle or to his side. He shoots straight after his assigned block, unfortunately he takes poor angles, doesn’t mirror well, and is hesitant to put hands on.
Additionally, while he shows phenomenal burst, he seems to be lacking that top-gear that some of the recent top picks have shown. He’s not slow, but he’s not going to win many matchups on speed alone.
There are also little things that he can continue to refine. Things like, doing better to keep his frame clean through his route. Not always, but there were a couple times he’d let defenders get hands on. He was able to clean it up, but I felt he can be more consistent in taking preventative steps to stay clean.
In just about every other facet, Wilson is great. He’s smart off the release, absolutely dominates defenders through his stem and break, sinks hard when he cuts and accelerates strong after the break. He attacks the football in the air, shows extremely good and reliable hands, phenomenal body control in the air, and secures it immediately after. Further, he’s no slouch when he turns into a runner.
He’s predominantly played in the slot, and while he has plenty of experience on the outside too, many of those alignments still gave him a two-way go. In the games I tracked, it was about 60% slot/40% wide, with many of his “wide” routes actually starting from a tight split. Taking into consideration his ability to exploit a defender’s leverage, this is the ideal scenario for him; put him in a place with a two-way go and let him attack the DB. From here, you better believe he can get open…and if he’s open, he’s likely to end up with the ball in his hands.
For this in-depth review let’s go deep. We’re going to start with how well Wilson sells the deep route.
Routes which break typically require the ability to sell a vertical or “go” route. The threat of being beat deep forces the defender to turn their hips and get ready to run with you. It’s in these moments when defenders are the most vulnerable and at the biggest disadvantage. Being able to consistently and convincingly sell a vert goes a long way toward being a good route runner.
In our first video, Wilson is lined up as a split-end on the field-side. He closes with the DB with quick feet, then fakes a speed release to the outside shoulder. He bursts forward taking an elongated step, dropping his head to sell the vert, and pumps his arms hard to force the defender to defend upfield.
At the same time, Wilson is dropping his butt to his ankles and planting his feet ready to break back on a hitch route. The DB was still carrying his momentum upfield while Wilson was breaking down and flipping his hips back to the QB.
Stroud looks the other way the entire time, but Wilson won because he sold the hell out of the vert and got the defender to turn and run upfield, creating enough separation to make and secure a possible catch.
With our second clip, we’re going to look at Wilson attacking a defenders leverage. On this one Wilson goes outside of the broadcast angle, so we’re going to also see it from behind the line of scrimmage.
From the broadcast view, Wilson is at the top of the screen aligned as a flanker, split wide field side. Here, the defender has outside leverage. He’s lined up wider than Wilson with his hips directed inside.
When attacking leverage, the receiver is attacking the leverage-side shoulder. For example, if the DB has inside leverage the receiver attacks their inside shoulder; outside leverage, attack the outside shoulder.
Off the snap, Wilson explodes and accelerates straight ahead very quickly. Once he gets about 6 yards from the DB, he angles himself to attack that outside shoulder.
As Wilson closes in, the DB has to turn his hips to the sideline to continue to gain depth. This allows Wilson to take a hard step outside and throw a little head fake, which shifts the DB enough to cut under him on the post route.
The DB loses speed flipping his hips from outside back in, and by this point Wilson – still in full stride – has a couple steps on him. Easy grab for Wilson to add 6 for Ohio State.
With our third clip, we’re going to look at how Wilson wins even when attacking leverage would otherwise fail.
We’re going to see Wilson field-side in the slot. The DB is playing with inside leverage because he doesn’t want to give up the middle of the field, and Wilson has to run an in-route against it.
Off the line of scrimmage, Wilson closes the distance with the DB by attacking his outside shoulder.
Remember, attacking leverage means going straight at it…we don’t want that here. If Wilson were to attack the inside leverage – the DBs inside shoulder – the DB would simply keep stepping inside to maintain that leverage, and square up.
Put another way, the DB would be stepping in the direction of the route, and turning in the direction of the break. In this case, attacking leverage would make it harder to separate.
Instead, by attacking the outside shoulder, Wilson keeps the defender as wide as possible, and further turns the defenders hips toward the sideline, away from the direction of the break. Now comes the hard part.
Wilson takes a big power-skip straight into a speed cut. Instead of taking his third step with his left foot, he cycles it mid-air so he can extend and plant his right foot wide. Further, he disconnects his upper and lower body here; his torso is going straight and he throws a head-fake to the outside, all while his feet are driving his hips to the inside.
In order to maintain speed, Wilson takes a speed cut, driving hard into that plant foot and bursting off it. Since Wilson is already cutting only 1-2 yards from the defender, his first inside step is practically on the DBs toes.
At this point, because the DB is turned completely the wrong way, the only chance for the DB is to get hands on Wilson and throw off the route or timing. Unfortunately for him, Wilson had anticipated this and was already chopping at the DBs hands. He kept his frame clean and had a quick getaway.
That’s one hell of a good job to beat inside leverage with an inside breaking route.
All of those scenarios are simply to say, Wilson has shown he can be a really good route runner. I say “can be” because I saw a number of situations where he just doesn’t put forth the same level of effort.
I’m willing to put those plays aside and not knock him too much, but only because they were much more prevalent early in 2020. By the end of the season and into 2021 I haven’t seen it as a continuing issue. It’s worth keeping an eye on though.
Either way, getting separation is only the first part of the battle. Getting open won’t get targets if the receiver can’t catch the ball. Thankfully, we have plenty of evidence that shows Wilson has a phenomenal set of tools needed to end each play with the ball in his hands.
Wilson attacks the ball at every opportunity. He’s clearly and consistently a hands catcher, and a very good one. Not only does he snatch the ball out of the air, he then takes the critically underrated step to secure it tight to his body shielded from defenders.
Here’s a touchdown in the back of the endzone. Wilson hits the defender with a rocker step – he’s late with his elbow/swipe but gets clean anyway – and gets to the back of the endzone a step or two above the DB.
When the throw comes, Wilson turns his body back to the QB to make the catch high. He immediately rotates back and shifts his hands away from the defender, putting his body between the defender and the ball. Making a concerted effort to keep his body between the defender and the ball was seen very often while watching Wilson.
Whether making a catch over the middle preparing to take a shot from a defender, or whether making a catch while falling down, Wilson continually shows great concentration and focus to make the catch.
As noted, below is a clip showing Wilson on a simple stop route. He falls down while breaking here. It looks to me like he sinks his hips really well, but doesn’t pull-the-string and bring his chest to his knees, so he ends up a little too upright and loses balance.
While falling, he’s able to continue turning back to the QB, put his left arm in the ground to stabilize himself and push his body up, then when sitting up high enough he’s able to bring his hands back around and make the grab…all in a fraction of a second.
When it comes to making the catch, it’s not just great concentration and reliable hands. Wilson brings seriously outstanding body control into the equation as well. There are many, many clips which show just how great he is at using his vertical ability, and at contorting and controlling his body to put himself in position for success.
Here we see Wilson vs. Clemson (no, it’s not THAT catch) in the 2020-2021 Sugar Bowl. He’s lined up in the slot boundary side and appears to burn the deep-third CB with pure speed. The ball is thrown pretty well, but a little too far outside to make the catch comfortably and allow for jog-in TD.
Instead – while looking back for the ball – Wilson has to re-align his route slightly wider, then make an incredible over-the-shoulder catch while diving forward to catch this. Then he somehow holds onto it while slamming into the ground at mach-2.
What’s crazy is that Wilson has even more acrobatic catches in his repertoire. The ability to fully extend and make catches with just fingertips shows up early and often in highlight reels. This gives Wilson a much larger catch radius than size alone would indicate.
Wilson also does an excellent job to identify zone, and adjust his route to swing through each zone to the area where he has the most space. He does really, really well to find and settle in the soft spots to make his QBs job easier.
We’ve got a couple to show you where Wilson makes his way through zones. You can see he is very careful to follow the design of the play, while trying to maintain as much space from defenders as possible in each, including a nice jab step to throw the DB and create more space.
He’s not the fastest. Wilson will regularly get caught by DBs when he’s full speed, even DBs coming from tough angles. It’s not the end of the world, speed just isn’t his game, and that’s ok. He’s still going to rack up yards and points even without it.
Here’s a quick one showing how he’s able to take a jet sweep 60+ yards. You can see – even after he turns on the jets around the 35/40 yard line – the DB saves a TD simply by being faster than Wilson.
Despite not being the fastest, he’s still pretty good once he turns into a runner. He has enough wiggle, juice, and jumps to make one or two guys miss.
We’ve got one more RAC play to show you here. Just a simple screen where Wilson is able to use angles and a quick-juke to get a handful of yards on the play.
Ok, we’ve briefly touched on a number of things that make Garrett Wilson a really, really good prospect…but what about the flaws I mentioned earlier?
Well, earlier – in the play shown against Alabama – I mentioned how Wilson was late to swipe away the DBs hands. This happened a few times while I watched him. If he can’t get a defender off his spot, he isn’t great at keeping his frame clean.
It’s not the worst flaw to have as a receiver, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. NFL DBs are much more disruptive, and will have a much easier time impacting his route when they get their hands on. I’d really like to see more proactive hands from Wilson through the ’21 season.
In addition to the ‘Bama play earlier, we’ll watch another where a DB gets his hands on. This time the DB is able to get hands on because of a simply run route, Wilson releases to the inside then just rounds into the route with speed. It’s enough to get a step on the DB, but not enough to stay clean throughout.
Now, like earlier, Wilson is still able to swipe the hands away quickly and get clear in his route. But again, more proactive hands may have allowed for a bit more separation, a bit more space, and an easier catch.
Worth noting, this shows great concentration in traffic and the ability to hold onto the ball while taking a monster hit.
Finally, as noted, he’s not the best blocker. There are a couple decent ones I saw from 2021 vs. Minnesota. He may have improved his blocking for this year – which might help his draft stock a little – but in all the games I watched these were the exception, not the rule.
Here’s one where he’s blocking a screen. He gets a little bit of a hold at the end as he gets his hands around the defender, but otherwise a pretty good block.
And here’s another where he actually takes a good angle to seal the defender away from the action. You can see Wilson at the top of the screen.
These were nice to see, but I’ll say it again, these are the exception to the rule.
More often than not, snaps where Wilson is blocking aren’t what we see above though. He’s quick to shoot out, and seems very willing to participate, but between a hesitancy to engage and poor leverage, angles, and functional strength, I don’t think he’ll be asked to lead-block anytime soon. Nor should he – let the man catch some passes.
I didn’t see enough of Wilson against press coverage to add any notes here. Despite his sometimes slow-to-react hand fighting, I would expect he will win more often than not due to showing good footwork on, for example, delayed releases against off coverage, catch, and soft-press.
Wilson is likely to be successful in the NFL. He’s great as a receiver, and best when given a two-way go where he can force the defender to make a mistake. I think he could be incredibly successful in a system that goes heavy on the option routes, like New England. But any team needing a receiver shouldn’t have any issues utilizing him. Maybe even New Orleans, as our own Andrew Scherber has projected in his 2022 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft!
How do you feel about Garrett Wilson? There’s a good amount of WRs who have potential for that top spot – where does he rank for you? Drop a comment in the comment box below to let us know your thoughts!
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