Linebackers are the unsung heroes on defense. The defensive line and secondary are frequently hailed as the most important departments, and while this may be true, the linebackers seal the cracks through which big plays can erupt. By providing security in run defense and clamping down on short and intermediate routes in pass defense, linebackers fulfill a crucial role. And TCU linebacker Garret Wallow is one NFL Draft prospect who does well in both of these departments.
Garret Wallow NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Linebacker
- School: TCU
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’1 5/8″
- Weight: 220 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Garret Wallow Scouting Report
Positives: Hard-charging linebacker with an average size and play speed. Instinctive, flows well to the action, and uses his hands to slide off blocks. Fluid flipping his hips in transition, gets depth on pass drops, and keeps the action in front of him. Displays a burst of speed and fires upfield defending the run. Squares and wraps up tackling. Effectively quarterbacks the defense.
Negatives: Not super fast (4.65s forty) for a smaller linebacker. Shows indecision in coverage.
Analysis: Wallow was a terrific defender at TCU the past three years and led the team in tackles last year despite playing with an injury. He’s a hard-charging, instinctive linebacker, who lacks the physical skills to be a star in the NFL, but he possesses the football ability to start in the proper scheme.
Garret Wallow Player Profile
As productive as Garret Wallow has been as a linebacker, his roots were actually at safety. In high school, Wallow was a 6-foot-2, 200-pound safety, and he generated some interest at that position. Wallow was a three-star prospect in the 2017 recruiting class, ranked as the 88th-best recruit at his position.
Wallow elicited offers from a number of Power Five schools. Although no perennial championship contenders expressed interest, Wallow still had bids to consider from Arizona, Michigan, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern. Being from Louisiana, Wallow opted to stay closer to home, and chose the TCU Horned Frogs as his college football destination.
It was still a near eight-hour drive to Fort Worth, Texas, but for Wallow, TCU offered a professional development opportunity, just a state away.
Garret Wallow’s career as a TCU linebacker
Big 12 football would soon offer Wallow a chance to put up gaudy numbers. However, the TCU linebacker didn’t get a premier role right away. Wallow played as a true freshman, but most of his experience came on special teams. There, Wallow led the team in special teams tackles. In doing so, he put himself on the short list for TCU’s next opening on the starting lineup.
In 2018, the hard work Wallow put in paid off. Wallow started seven of 13 possible contests, amassing 72 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, and two deflections. It was an impressive jump for a true sophomore, but it wouldn’t compare to the production he generated in his final two seasons.
Garret Wallow’s final two years at TCU
By 2019, the TCU linebacker was an ascending player on the defensive side of the ball. However, the 2019 season was the embodiment of his withstanding upside. Wallow started all 12 games, putting up massive numbers. He logged 125 total tackles, 18.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, an interception, and a pass deflection, all while earning All-Big 12 first-team honors.
In 2020, Wallow picked up where he left off. The team captain accumulated 90 total tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, a pass deflection, and 3 forced fumbles in two less games. Wallow again received recognition as a first-team All-Big 12 honoree. Even amidst uncertainty, Wallow’s final season served as a suitable punctuation mark for his career.
On December 29, Wallow accepted an invite to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl, solidifying his status as a 2021 NFL Draft prospect.
Analyzing Garret Wallow’s NFL Draft profile
Standing at almost 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Garret Wallow has a stout build, but he has enough size to compete in the box. A former safety convert, Wallow generally has good fluidity in space. It’s clear from his athletic profile that he has some experience as a coverage player. The root of Wallow’s game, more specifically, rests in his explosiveness, both short and long-range.
In the box, Wallow’s quick acceleration ability allows him to sear through gaps in the line. He cranks up with exceptional pace, and he has an extra gear that he can hit near the contact point. When Wallow has the correct angle, he launches himself into opponents. As a result, he can generate impressive force. He has a nose for the backfield, and he’s fairly proficient at finishing the job, as evidenced by his tackle for loss numbers.
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Wallow’s explosiveness also shows up in coverage. Although LB Garret Wallow’s measurables don’t include elite speed, Wallow has the ability to launch out of his hip turns. This enables him to track tight ends and slower receivers downfield, and in the intermediate range, he has enough speed to hang tough. Wallow also does a good job with positioning and awareness in coverage. His decisions are calculated, and he has a good mix of patience and persistence.
What are the issues with Wallow?
Wallow’s lateral explosiveness gives him palatable upside, but there are some concerns with his projection as well. In coverage, Wallow doesn’t make as many plays as you’d expect a former safety to make. The TCU linebacker doesn’t have the overwhelming length to close the gap in tight situations, and he can also be late to react on occasion.
Going further off of Wallow’s size, he measured in smaller and lighter than his listed collegiate measurements. He’s still fairly stocky, but he doesn’t have great play strength. He can get bodied by larger blockers. Although he does pop blockers on occasion, he doesn’t have the length to exert his power with consistency.
In run defense, Wallow’s flashes are bright, but there are times when he overshoots his target. In the process, Wallow sacrifices the optimal angle, and it’s tough to make corrective measures at that point. Wallow needs to attain more consistency with his tackling angles. When he gets it right, he can swim through congestion and square up runners with ease. However, he’s fairly hit and miss in that department.
Garret Wallow’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Garret Wallow is an interesting player, in what’s starting to become an ultra-deep linebacker class. He’s not an elite athlete, but he does have functional athleticism, serviceable sideline-to-sideline speed, and solid fluidity. His frame is stocky but not overly powerful, which limits him somewhat in contact situations. Additionally, he’s not as active in coverage as his position history suggests.
Nevertheless, the TCU linebacker has some starting potential if he can hone his positive traits more often.
Wallow can be seen communicating with teammates on tape at the middle LB position, and given his awareness, he could feasibly be a MIKE at the NFL level. In addition, with his explosiveness and quick reaction time in the box, Wallow has SAM potential as well, and his coverage upside also points to potential at the WILL position.
How does Wallow profile from a schematic standpoint?
Overall, Wallow has some inconsistencies that relegate him to the middle rounds, but he has upside and versatility across multiple linebacker spots. He can be a good fit as a 3-4 inside linebacker, or as a 4-3 linebacker who can line up anywhere on the second level.
Teams like the Packers, Lions, Titans, and Browns might find good value in Wallow, but he’ll be appealing to dozens more.
Wallow’s pro day was big for him, in ways both positive and negative. He put up decent athletic numbers, including a 4.65 40-yard dash, a 32.5-inch vertical, and a 122-inch broad jump, as well as 94th-percentile agility numbers. However, Wallow’s size generates pause. Nevertheless, if he can bulk up, Wallow is a well-rounded LB candidate with experience and starting potential. Many of the tools are there. Putting it together is the next step.
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