Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt introduced himself to the world with a 207-yard, five-touchdown (school record) outing against Alabama. Prior to that performance, no pass catcher had 100+ yards and three or more TDs against the Crimson Tide in the Nick Saban era.
So yea, I’d say he’s pretty talented. But just how talented is Hyatt? Let’s dive into his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report to find out.
Jalin Hyatt NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Tennessee
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’0″, 176 pounds
- Arm Length: 32 1/2″
- Hand Size: 9″
Hyatt exploded onto the scene against Alabama, and he took full advantage of Cedric Tillman‘s absence. In a WR class that isn’t as solidified as many predicted in the summer, the Tennessee pass catcher propelled himself toward the top.
But that’s now. How did Hyatt get here? It all started at a YMCA in South Carolina when he was five years old. There, Hyatt began playing flag football, and a fire was lit.
By the time he was a sophomore at Dutch Fork High School, Hyatt had already received his first scholarship. Two years later, he was the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards (3,624) and receiving touchdowns (57) and helped secure back-to-back undefeated, state title-winning seasons.
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Hyatt was simply a man among boys, racking up 1,300+ yards and 20+ TDs in his junior and senior campaigns. In the 2019 state championship, he caught three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime — he obviously has the clutch gene.
Oh, and I should probably mention he’s fast … like, track fast. Hyatt recorded a 10.46 in the 100m and 21.14 in the 200m. For numbers that make more sense to us football folk, he recorded a 4.4 40-yard dash, 40″ vertical, and 11’3″ broad at the NFL Combine.
After initially committing to Virginia Tech, Hyatt considered offers from Miami, Oregon, and Florida. But ultimately, he’d sign with Tennessee as a four-star recruit.
The South Carolina native stepped on campus as a 165-pound WR and served as the team’s No. 4 option the last two seasons. In 2022, he put on 15 pounds and became the 1B to Tillman’s 1A. But with the latter’s high ankle sprain keeping him out multiple games, Hyatt received the shot he was waiting for. He proved to be a different caliber, posting a 67-1,267-15 receiving line en route to winning the Biletnikoff Award.
Jalin Hyatt Scouting Report
This offseason, Tennessee HC Josh Heupel detailed the growth that Hyatt put on for the entire nation to see:
“Jalin’s made a huge jump. Different mindset, different focus — because of that, different work habits, unbelievable offseason, strength and conditioning before we got to competing on the grass. He’s continuing to get better.
“I’m planning to put the football in his hands, he’s become a much more physical football player since he’s changed his body. Those two things go together hand-in-hand in gaining confidence, and that shows up in the way he’s played.”
However, can Hyatt challenge for early-round draft capital?
Where Hyatt Wins
Hyatt is one of the few players every cycle that you can describe with one word. His? Speed. Game-breaking, rage-inducing, nightmare-filling speed. Simply put, he is the premier deep threat in this class. But the Tennessee WR isn’t a track star playing football; he’s a football player with track speed.
When running vertical routes, Hyatt explodes off the line and right past the opposition. Cornerbacks fear his speed, giving him ample cushion underneath. Yet, he knows how to set up off-coverage defenders downfield, driving them to open their hips prematurely before stemming the opposite way.
Even if defenders turn and bail out of their technique to try and match the Tennessee WR’s speed, they simply can’t.
When he appears to be at his max speed, Hyatt can reach an otherworldly gear, accelerating with long, efficient strides. That sudden accelerative capacity alone generates effortless separation, which is a quarterback’s dream.
In the open field, Hyatt obliterates tackling angles with stellar balance. The defender could take the correct approach to the ball, only for the Tennessee WR to make them incorrect in one swift motion.
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However, Hyatt takes the top off defenses with more than just his speed. He understands how to stack defenders and create a clear window for passes. Deep-ball tracking is also a strength, and the Vols WR consistently looks passes in.
With his long arms, Hyatt extends and plucks balls outside his frame, providing an expansive catch radius for his QB. When facing contact, he can swipe hands off him with ease while maintaining stability. Additionally, he stays low throughout his route, snapping down at the stem for maximum efficiency.
Tennessee created 1-on-1 matchups, and with a two-way go as a primary slot receiver, Hyatt ate. If you don’t initially get hands on him — which the Vols mitigated by positioning him as the trail man in bunch/stack looks — it’s over. He’s a man-beater that makes every route look the same, varying his strides to keep DBs honest.
Surprisingly, Hyatt is a strong run blocker for his slim frame. He gives tremendous effort and consistently gets inside his opponent’s chest. After the catch, he has enough lateral agility and quickness to make a defender or two miss off screens and underneath passes.
Hyatt’s Areas for Improvement
As you’d expect with a true junior, even one of Hyatt’s degree, there are areas for improvement. Yet, many derive from Heupel’s scheme. Tennessee’s offense is predicated on the quick game, RPOs, and one-field reads. As a result, there are many snaps when Hyatt is simply a decoy or body on the field.
Include his 90% career slot rate, and Hyatt’s tape is limited. He rarely faced press, didn’t run many route concepts, and was schemed open often. In fact, his route tree essentially was the following: go’s, slants, speed outs, comebacks, rounded digs/crossers, and WR screens.
The Tennessee WR wasn’t asked to run many of the hard-breaking routes he will see in the NFL. Although he’s flashed the ability to sink his hips at the top of his route, Hyatt occasionally raises his pad level into the break.
Furthermore, his legs can get outside his frame, hindering Hyatt’s ability to burst out of breaks. His speed stopping his momentum vastly differs from his speed when starting.
Typically, you want to get out of the stem in three steps: drop, pivot, and hook. Hyatt has the drop step down, sinking his hips and bringing his chin to his knee. But he can improve on pivoting on the second step (slight turn of the foot) and hooking the last one (drive into the break).
Before the route begins, Hyatt needs to expand his release repertoire. He hasn’t dealt with many physical corners, but that will change in the league. In the few reps where the opponent did get hands on him, the Tennessee WR struggled to separate.
Currently, he most commonly deploys a foot-fire release, quickly shooting his feet before surging forward. Adding to his bag will only boost Hyatt’s odds of leaving the line of scrimmage clean. A high-level aspect of being a wide receiver Hyatt can achieve is deception. He employs head fakes and does a decent job feigning intent by throwing his upper half.
Yet, against zone, he can better hold CBs with patient footwork. Hyatt’s feel in zone is restricted by his experience, as he doesn’t always sit in holes or flatten routes.
Weight-wise, Hyatt may be able to add some muscle, but he has a naturally slender build. Thus, he won’t break many arm tackles or be much of a contested-catch connoisseur. He’s pretty much a linear athlete overall, lacking creativity with the ball in his hands.
While a bit of a nitpick, Hyatt often lines up with his hands crossed on his knees. It’s not the biggest concern, but it increases time at the release as he must uncross them before moving his lower half.
Plus, if a CB presses, they can jam his chest before he can get his arms up. Lastly, I’d like the Tennessee WR to incorporate a more forward lean in his stance for the utmost explosion.
Current Draft Projection for Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt
DeSean Jackson, Will Fuller, Jameson Willams. What do those three wide receivers have in common? They were speedy 5’10”-6’1″ and sub-190-pound collegiate pass catchers who were selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. And Hyatt has the potential to join their esteemed group.
The Tennessee WR owns a similar projection as well: an outside Z/slot receiver who can stretch the field and take pressure off the No. 1. The NFL loves speed; just look at Hyatt’s former teammate Velus Jones Jr., who was selected in Round 3 at 25 years old last year. That’s likely Hyatt’s floor in this class.
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Not only is Hyatt 21 years old, but he’s also the superior prospect. While he must refine the details of the position and develop his overall technique, his long speed and proven downfield ability are worth banking on. It forces safeties to know where he is at all times, limiting their ability to crash in run support. Still, the Vols schemed Hyatt open so often, and with free releases, we just haven’t seen many NFL-style reps out of him.
Hyatt deserves consideration in the first two rounds of the draft. Speed kills, and with the top of the WR class wide open due to injuries to key players and others returning to the college ranks next season, Hyatt has risen up draft boards the same way he plays: fast.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report on Jalin Hyatt
Strengths: Legitimate game-breaking WR coming off a sensational campaign. Possesses a tremendous burst of speed that he turns on in a single step, has a second gear, and runs away from defenders. Adjusts to the errant throw, possesses eye/hand coordination, and extends to snatch the ball out of the air. Shows a sense of timing, looks the ball into his hands, and strikes fear in opponents. Draws a lot of attention and gets consistently double-teamed. Quick as well as fast.
Weaknesses: Not a stout receiver and will struggle against press or bump-and-run coverage. Must develop a greater route tree.
Overall: Hyatt turned in a tremendous campaign after injury forced him to become the Volunteers’ No. 1 wideout. He responded with 15 touchdown catches and averaged 18.9 yards on 67 receptions. He’s a legitimate home-run-hitting receiver with a great amount of upside, and he will be lethal at the next level once he fully develops his game.