In every class, quality contributors at the WR position go on Day 2 and even Day 3. Can Virginia WR Dontayvion Wicks be one of those value deals in the 2023 NFL Draft? Here’s a look at his composite profile after the 2022 season and how he ranks in a deep, unsettled WR class.
Dontayvion Wicks NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Virginia
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’1″, 206 pounds
- Length: 32 3/8″
- Hand: 10″
I like to evaluate wide receivers within the three-level threat framework — creating before, during, and after the catch process. In the 2022 NFL Draft cycle, a couple of my favorite prospects within the three-level threat framework were Garrett Wilson and Romeo Doubs. This cycle, Wicks has quickly made his way onto the list.
Wicks has come a long way since being a three-star recruit in the 2019 class. And the 2021 season encompassed the near entirety of his career production. In 2019, Wicks caught three passes for 61 yards and a touchdown as a true freshman. In 2020, a major injury robbed him of his sophomore campaign before it began. 2021 was the year of redemption for Wicks, who finally delivered on the promise he’d shown in spurts.
MORE: FREE Mock Draft Simulator With Trades
Once again averaging over 20 yards per catch, Wicks dominated as Virginia’s primary pass catcher. He caught 57 passes for 1,203 yards, adding nine scores within that sample size. Wicks was a first-team All-ACC honoree for his play and earned third-team recognition on PFN’s All-American list heading into 2022.
Wicks’ 2021 season confirmed what was long a suspicion. He is a playmaker, but even he wasn’t immune to a massive regression experienced by the Virginia offense in 2022. Wicks only caught 30 passes for 430 yards and two touchdowns in his final season, but his career production was still enough to earn an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Dontayvion Wicks Scouting Report
With size, length, twitchy athleticism, and effortless body control, Wicks quietly fills out the three-level threat framework with promising proficiency. His scouting report below has the full details.
Wicks has an extremely unique frame. At over 6’1″, 206 pounds, he has good height and great frame density. But perhaps most appealing is his length. With arms almost 33″ long, Wicks has a large wingspan and a formidable catch radius. And while his frame is somewhat lean for his height, it’s no doubt compact and strong.
Beyond his size profile, Wicks’ athleticism is just as appealing. The Virginia WR flashes effortless acceleration off the line. He gears up very efficiently with long strides and has enough long speed to stack DBs and extend RAC opportunities. Moreover, Wicks has the long-strider explosiveness to stack in the immediate thirds.
Wicks’ linear athleticism stands out and is magnified by his long-strider mold. And at the NFL Combine, his testing confirmed his on-field explosiveness. Wicks’ 39″ vertical jump and 10’10” broad jump presented some of the best burst numbers among eligible wide receiver prospects. Those numbers are indicative of Wicks’ ability to gear up without delay.
As appealing as Wicks’ burst is, he also brings visible agility and twitch. Wicks has the high-end cylindrical twitch to suddenly cut stems and snap around on routes. He’s a spry lateral athlete with great burst and freedom on his cuts. The Virginia WR is a snappy, amped-up, high-energy short-area mover who can vary his stride lengths with speed, precision, and control.
Wicks also brings a compelling skill set when the ball is in the air. The Virginia WR can make sudden adjustments back toward the ball and is very smooth transferring his weight to adjust for passes. He flashes extraordinary body control, actively works against his momentum, and completes high-difficulty contortions to corral imprecise throws. Wicks is able to track the ball effectively in the deep third and throttle down suddenly when needed. He can also track the ball in stride while running up tight seams.
Even while experiencing contact and extending beyond his frame, Wicks can effectively track and corral passes with his hands downfield. Moreover, he’s shown he can guide the ball in with his hands and cup passes in stride downfield. Wicks has the hand strength to maintain control amidst contact over the middle of the field. He’s also able to lock down the ball through the catch process by sealing it against his torso.
With his brand of athleticism, Wicks naturally has enticing potential as a route runner. At the line, the Virginia WR can execute brisk jab and rocker steps to gain displacement, then capitalize with acceleration. He incorporates fast feet and quick head fakes on releases and can seamlessly transition to vertical acceleration after generating displacement. He has fast, efficient feet at the line and can quickly plant and drive upfield.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Wicks has shown he can use proper execution as a route runner. But his route-running building blocks are what ultimately provide him with his high-level upside. Wicks has decent hip sink, which he can use to compress and explode out of stems. He also brings solid stopping ability.
The Virginia WR can suddenly chop his feet and halt momentum to break back on stems. Furthermore, he showcases excellent throttle freedom and recovery athleticism when testing DBs on the boundary. He can also throttle up and down fairly well on stop-and-go’s.
With his application, Wicks has shown he can bait DBs into triggering downhill early, then snap his hips upfield, stacking quick direction changes. The Virginia WR can get DBs off-center with quick lateral shuffles, then explode upfield and attack open lanes. He manipulates and exploits DB leverage in real time and can attack blind spots with his explosiveness. In a similar vein, he shows good awareness and feel for positioning when attacking zones underneath.
Also appealing is Wicks’ ability to splice physicality into his game. He’s able to use calculated arm swipes at the catch point to displace defenders, and he can compound separation by using his length to establish a lever in tight coverage. Going further, Wicks can use his length to pry past jams while churning his feet upfield. At times, he seems to emulate pass rushers with his work against press. He can swipe and swim over jams to get displacement, using his lateral athleticism in tandem with his hands.
After the catch, Wicks’ athleticism translates extremely well. But he’s also shown he can slip through high tackle attempts and churn his legs through indirect contact. He’ll fight for extra yardage even when wrapped by defenders, and he’s able to get his feet back under him after hauling in passes amidst contact.
Finally, Wicks brings value as a run blocker as well. The Virginia WR is an energetic run blocker with a fighter’s disposition. He blocks to the whistle, uses his wide reach to square up and envelop defenders, and uses his length to generate force. He’s generally an assignment-sound blocker, too. He can seal off front-side defenders on counters and seek work upfield when teammates get RAC opportunities.
Wicks’ Areas for Improvement
Wicks grades highly in many physical areas. There aren’t any sorely lacking traits, but one could argue that few of his components are quantifiably elite outside of his burst. And even then, he doesn’t always channel elite burst out of transitions. He sometimes needs a runway to gear up to his max speed.
Wicks’ long speed is another area of concern. While he can gear up quickly off the line, he visibly maxes out when attacking downfield, and he’s not a consistent field stretcher. He can’t consistently stack defenders in the deep third, and he’s not a threat to sustain separation downfield. His 4.62 40-yard dash only confirmed that.
Downfield, while Wicks’ hand/eye coordination is good, it can stand to improve. The Virginia WR sometimes lets the ball roll into his torso when tracking it. Similarly, he’ll sometimes resort to body-catching in tight situations and fails to properly secure the ball with his hands. When he does get hands-on, he can at times, more tightly secure passes with full grip, as palm catches can be unstable. Focus drops remain an issue for him.
Even as a separator, Wicks can seek greater efficiency. The Virginia WR sometimes has wasted motion on releases and can be more direct in eating up cushions. He sometimes plays too tall into stems and can more consistently push upfield and sink to gain separation. Wasted motion can limit the amount of cushion Wicks has to work with, as well as give DBs better positioning. Overall, Wicks has room to further expand his route tree and apply his route-running building blocks with more consistency.
It’s also worth noting that Wicks’ route-running building blocks aren’t quite elite, either. While he has decent flexibility, his hips can be a bit stiff at times when pressuring angles. His foot speed off the line can be inconsistent as well, and sometimes, his heavy feet can make him easy to keep under center by defenders. In a similar vein, he’s inconsistent applying his length to compound separation.
Among other things, Wicks doesn’t consistently shrug off direct contact and bounce off defenders. And as a blocker, he sometimes plays himself out of position by drifting too far past attack angles.
Current Draft Projection for Virginia WR Dontayvion Wicks
On my board, Wicks grades out as an early-to-mid Day 3 prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. Depending on team preference, there’s an outside chance that he could challenge for top-100 capital, especially after his explosiveness testing. But more likely than not, he’s a Day 3 selection with developmental upside.
The brunt of Wicks’ appeal comes from his combination of length and long-strider explosiveness, as well as his physicality. He has a working release package and can displace defensive backs with his lateral athleticism and twitch, and he has the length and body control to convert at the catch point.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft WR Class
Having said all this, Wicks is still relatively inconsistent when it comes to channeling his athleticism and physicality as a route runner, and he’s also susceptible to focus drops and clap-catches when attacking passes vertically. He has flashed the ability to properly secure passes with the diamond technique, but many operational parts of his game require more consistency, and his lack of high-end long speed only adds to the uncertainty.
Still, it’s important to bring Wicks’ grade back to the three-level threat framework. He has route-running upside, the wingspan and flexibility to be a threat at the catch point, and is a natural RAC threat in space with his twitch, density, and physicality. With that upside, Wicks is worth a spot as a developmental weapon in a WR rotation, and he can develop into a quality movement Z at his maximum potential.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report on Dontayvion Wicks
Strengths: Athletic receiver who flashes game-dominating ability. Quickly releases off the line of scrimmage, immediately gets to top speed, and plays to his 40 time. Tracks the deep pass in the air, extends his hands, and snatches the ball away from his frame.
Adjusts to the errant throw, possesses eye/hand coordination, and makes the reception in stride. Uses the sidelines well, keeps the play in bounds, and works to pick up yardage after the catch. Shows good route discipline, works across the field, and has a sturdy frame that he uses to shield away defenders. Uses his hands to separate from opponents.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t always come away with the difficult reception. Has lapses in concentration that leads to drops. Missed time with injury last season and played in just eight games.
Overall: Much was expected from Wicks after his tremendous junior campaign of 2021, but injury and poor QB play at Virginia led to disappointing results. He’s a big-bodied receiver with long arms, large hands, and big-play ability. While he previously displayed Day 2 ability, I expect Wicks to be selected at the start of Day 3. If properly coached and developed, he could be a steal at the WR position.