There’s an expectation in Columbus. If you play wide receiver for the Ohio State Buckeyes, you’re expected to play in the NFL. It’s a simple cause-and-effect. Since 2012, 10 Buckeyes receivers have been selected in the NFL Draft, among them Michael Thomas, Terry McLaurin, and Curtis Samuel. Before them, Ohio State laid claim to stars like Ted Ginn Jr., Santonio Holmes, Terry Glenn, and Hall of Famer Cris Carter. Can Garrett Wilson carry the torch for Ohio State at WR? As Wilson’s NFL Draft scouting report details, he has an excellent chance.
Garrett Wilson NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Ohio State
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 188 pounds
Garrett Wilson Scouting Report
A lot of pressure comes with being an Ohio State WR. You might be tasked with filling a void previously filled by Michael Thomas, Terry McLaurin, or Parris Campbell in any given year. Ryan Day’s operation is an NFL pipeline at multiple positions — wide receiver is one of them.
That pressure can be too big for some players, but it has never been for Wilson. Wilson earned playing time as a true freshman but broke out as a true sophomore. His early success for the Buckeyes derives from a deadly mixture. He’s physically capable in all facets but also intelligent and detailed beyond his years.
Before the catch
When evaluating wide receivers, a useful exercise is to break up each evaluation process into three categories — before the catch, at the catch, and after the catch. Some traits are unique to one category, but others span across all three. For Wilson and his scouting report, let’s start with his attributes before the catch, where his athleticism is fully on display.
Wilson is exceptionally fluid, sudden, and explosive as an athlete. Before the catch, he uses this suddenness and twitch to gain separation. He has the unique ability to disconnect his upper and lower body movements to sow deception, and on top of that, his feet are swift and precise. The Buckeye also uses his head and eyes to feign intent. In fact, against Indiana, he pretended to be a blocker before exploding upfield and securing a big reception.
Wilson’s athletic traits translate easily to his route-running ability. The Ohio State WR can stack direction changes and glide out of quick cuts with ease. He sinks his hips effortlessly on route breaks, and he can explode off of stems with torrid short-area burst. Wilson has the explosiveness to race ahead of defenders in the open field, and he adjusts his stride lengths based on the situation. Furthermore, Wilson has a good awareness of blind spots in coverage, and his route tree is fairly expansive for his age.
At the catch
If you haven’t already been sold on Wilson, this section should do the trick. At 6’0″, 188 pounds, Wilson isn’t an overwhelming size threat. Nevertheless, his amalgamation of traits makes him a force to be reckoned with downfield.
At the catch point, Wilson’s ability to rise vertically is top-tier. He’s an explosive athlete. However, beyond his ability to physically high-point the ball, he has superb body contortion and hands. His ball tracking prowess in the deep third is impeccable. Wilson naturally guides the ball in at the catch point. He doesn’t hug it close to his body but instead seeks the ball out with his hands, proactively securing the catch.
Sometimes, Wilson may find himself crowded between a defender and the out-of-bounds line. In these tight situations, Wilson displays strong sideline awareness. Additionally, when he’s contorting for tough passes, he has the wherewithal to make sure his feet stay in bounds. That awareness, present within a condensed time window, is impressive.
There are times when Wilson gets outmuscled at the catch point due to his lesser frame. Safeties can also jar the ball loose with timely hits on the Ohio State WR. Regardless, his contested-catch ability is a major strength overall.
After the catch
We’ve checked two boxes already, and as it turns out, Wilson is a strong prospect after the catch as well. His athleticism translates well in this phase. He’s a shifty ball carrier, with the elusiveness and suddenness to make defenders miss in space.
Wilson doesn’t quite have the elite top-end speed to win foot races outright, but he has enough to elongate the field and extend short passes. He was particularly dangerous on drag routes and mesh routes in 2020. He sneaks below other route concepts and into the middle of the field, where he could then use his speed and jittery running style to tack on extra yards.
There isn’t as much contact balance or density with Wilson, but his brand of mobility gives him plenty to work with as a runner. Moreover, Wilson’s solid run-after-catch ability helps increase his overall versatility. He has flexibility between the boundary and the slot, and he was also used quite a bit in motion last season.
Areas for improvement
Overall, Wilson’s NFL Draft scouting report has fairly few blemishes. Heading into 2020, the Ohio State WR has a lot of appeal as a prospect. Having said that, no prospect is perfect, and that statement rings true for Wilson as well.
Among other things, Wilson can round off his routes on occasion. He’s also prone to focus drops when he anticipates contact. Interestingly enough, this happens most often in the short range, where Wilson might feel more vulnerable to looming defensive backs. His downfield separation can be a bit inconsistent. Additionally, there were a few communication mishaps between him and Justin Fields, one of which led to an interception against Indiana.
Beyond his receiving role, Wilson is at the very least a willing blocker, but he isn’t particularly impactful in that phase. Wilson’s middling size prevents him from attaining a physical advantage over defensive backs, and he lacks consistency with his blocking angles.
Nonetheless, wide receiver evaluation always puts a heavy emphasis on the receiving portion of the game. And in that realm, there’s a great deal to like about Wilson and his NFL aspirations. There are a few issues, but all of them are minor. For all projective purposes, Wilson’s smooth, sudden athleticism, combined with his attention to detail and his sheer instinct at the catch point, makes him an extremely promising wideout in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Garrett Wilson’s Player Profile
Upon watching Wilson play, it’s no surprise that he was a five-star recruit in the 2019 recruiting class. Ranked as the second-overall receiver and the third-overall prospect in the state of Texas, Wilson’s natural talent was apparent nationwide. Even at just 175 pounds, Wilson received offers from dozens of schools, including Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Texas, Florida, and Georgia.
Wilson’s character also made him a desired addition on the recruiting trail — he won the All-American Bowl Man of the Year award for his community service.
Wilson could have chosen Texas and remained in his hometown of Austin. But instead, he valued Ohio State’s proven track record of receiver development over proximity to home. On April 29, 2018, Wilson officially committed to Ohio State. The decision came one day after the conclusion of the 2018 NFL Draft — perhaps a sign of things to come for the Lake Travis product.
Wilson’s career at Ohio State
Wilson joined the Buckeyes as a true freshman in 2019. At the time, the Buckeyes’ receiving corps was recovering from the losses of both Campbell and McLaurin in the prior draft. Thus, Wilson earned valuable exposure as a true freshman. And as a true freshman, he quickly proved that he wasn’t your average pass catcher.
Overall, Wilson saw playing time in 13 games during the 2019 season. He accounted for 30 catches, 432 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Several games provided bright flashes of his potential. In the Maryland game, he hauled in 4 passes for 82 yards and a score. Against Michigan, he ran up the count with 118 yards and a touchdown on just 3 receptions.
Wilson’s perception-altering 2020 campaign and NFL Draft ascension
Another wave of Ohio State receivers — K.J. Hill, Binjimen Victor, and Austin Mack — left the program before the 2020 season, prepping Wilson for an increased role. For those unfamiliar with Wilson, his 2020 breakout came out of nowhere. But for those who knew his origins, it was only a matter of time before he exploded onto the college football scene.
Suiting up for 8 games in 2020, Wilson amassed 723 yards and 6 touchdowns for the Buckeyes on just 43 catches. He served as one of the team’s leading receivers alongside Chris Olave, averaging an excellent 16.8 yards per catch. He earned All-Big Ten recognition for his performance, but the Ohio State WR isn’t done yet.
After his 2020 season, Wilson is a popular pick in 2022 NFL Mock Drafts. He has the pedigree and the production, and an evaluation of the tape confirms that he has the physical ability as well. The line of Ohio State WRs in the NFL is a long and storied one — Wilson seems destined to add to the list.
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