2022 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Garrett Wilson (Fantasy Football)
Based on early NFL Draft mock drafts and buzz around the dynasty community, former Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson seems like a lock to go in Round 1 of April’s 2022 NFL Draft. In NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent Mock Draft 2.0, he has Wilson coming off the board at #19 to the Eagles, and according to GrindingTheMocks.com data, which sources mock drafts around the industry, Wilson has an average mock draft projection at 14.8 as of early February.
He’ll clearly have the NFL Draft capital to support his rookie profile, but what do his college numbers say, what strengths and weaknesses are on tape and what can we expect from Wilson for fantasy purposes in 2022 and beyond? Let’s jump in!
Editors Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2022 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the UDK+ for 2022.
College Production Profile
|Games||Targets||Receptions||Catch Rate||Receiving Yards||Yards/Rec||Rec TDs|
One thing that sticks out about Wilson’s college production profile is that he was able to step on the field right away as a true Freshman in 2019 and contribute in a meaningful way, all while competing for playing time with other NFL talents like Jameson Williams (who transferred from OSU to Alabama), Chris Olave and K.J. Hill, who was drafted in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Not pictured above, another thing about Wilson’s three seasons at OSU that helps to bolster his profile is his ability to contribute in the return game. Over his three years in Columbus, Wilson operated as one of the team’s primary punt returners, and like other current NFL WRs, the ability to contribute with the ball in his hands bodes well for his vision and ability to pick up yards after the catch. One of the most obvious parts about Wilson’s game is his YAC ability, which we’ll touch on a bit when we break down his tape.
Wilson broke out in a Covid shortened 2020 season, accounting for 34% of Ohio State’s receiving yards with a 30% Dominator Rating. He again produced at a high level in 2021, setting career highs in receptions, yards, and TDs. It’s notable that Wilson not only competed with Chris Olave for targets and volume last year, but he also had to compete with sophomore standout, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who is likely to be one of, if not the, first WR off the board in 2023.
While Wilson’s production profile isn’t necessarily eye-popping or the best of the WRs in this class, his production is still solid and good enough to support his outlook as he prepares to make the jump from college to the NFL. He produced early in his career, only played three college seasons (as opposed to four or five seasons), and is sure to have 1st Round NFL Draft capital. Based on historical data, these three factors have been consistent in identifying WRs who are more likely to have success at the next level.
As of this writing, we don’t have specific athletic testing numbers from the NFL Combine, but I would not be surprised to see Wilson test well in Indy. Coming out of high school, Wilson was a 5-star recruit and received multiple Division I offers for basketball. He’s a natural athlete who looks fluid on tape.
At 6’0″, 188 lbs., Wilson’s frame is comparable to that of Terry McLaurin (6’0″, 208 lbs.), Jerry Jeudy (6’1″, 193 lbs.), and Diontae Johnson (5’10”, 183 lbs.). This does not mean those players a comp for how Wilson plays, but it at least gives us an idea as to the play style we might expect from Wilson at the pro level. Based on his frame, he’s unlikely to be a “go up and get it” contested-catch specialist on the perimeter like Kenny Golladay or Tee Higgins. But that’s okay, especially for how Wilson plays on tape…more on that soon.
While Wilson doesn’t necessarily profile as that tall perimeter WR, it is worth noting that Daniel Jeremiah wrote, “The Ohio State product makes several plays above the rim and really plays much bigger than his size” in his NFL Draft Prospect Rankings 1.0. Others around the industry, namely PFF, have commented that Wilson “possesses rare traits at the receiver position but risks being pigeonholed in the slot at the next level if his play strength doesn’t improve.”
With differing view points on the WR’s play strength, it seems the real question is whether or not this actually matters for how Garrett Wilson wins. When I watch Wilson play, I see an ability to generate separation, especially at the top of his route tree, so it’s possible he may not necessarily need that huge frame to turn into a consistent producer at the NFL level. For what it’s worth, Wilson has been comped to other route running technicians, Stefon Diggs (Jeremiah), Calvin Ridley (Connor Rodgers), and Diontae Johnson (PFF).
What’s On Tape
Games Viewed: Maryland (2021), Penn State (2021), Purdue (2021), Oregon (2021), Minnesota (2021), Nebraska (2020), Indiana (2020)
1. Garrett Wilson might be the best route runner and separator in this class.
It’s impossible to watch Garrett Wilson play and not notice that on the vast majority of his receptions, there isn’t a defender within three yards. Wilson is explosive, particularly at the top of his route tree, and is able to sell double moves with ease against college corners to create separation down the field. He isn’t the fastest in the class, but when you watch his film and see how easily he can create layup throws for his QB, it speaks volumes to his ability as a route runner. In particular, I love Wilson’s release off the line of scrimmage and his ability to separate quickly at the top of his route. Take a look at this double move against Maryland, for example.
Spent the afternoon watching Garrett Wilson tape
My God, this is beautiful pic.twitter.com/WCUYSRUVPA
— Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT) February 22, 2022
2. Wilson looks natural with the ball in his hands after the catch and can make defenders miss in open space and in tight quarters thanks to his quickness and twitchy attributes.
One thing that stood out to me routinely on his college tape was that Garrett Wilson can pick up yards after the catch with ease and there are often multiple defenders in the area to help bring him down. As mentioned above, Wilson has experience operating as OSU’s primary punt returner, and there are several plays on tape where he looks comfortable making defenders miss in the open field as he picks up extra yardage. Wilson’s 19 forced missed tackles in 2021 were good for the 14th most in college football.
3. Wilson’s body control helps him reel in off-target throws, making his catch radius bigger than his 190 lb. frame would suggest.
As mentioned above, there’s some slight disagreement among professional scouts about Wilson’s frame and whether or not that might pigeonhole him into a slot role at the NFL level. Personally, I see several big-time plays on tape where Wilson shows tremendous control in the air as he’s able to contort his body to make contested catches. I wouldn’t say it’s the focal point of his game, but it shows up enough on film to say that we can’t ignore it. In particular, I love Wilson’s ability to navigate the sideline even with a defender close by. Here’s one example from his 4 TD game against Purdue.
What’s Not On Tape
1. There isn’t a lot on tape of Wilson running his routes across the middle of the field.
Per PFF, Wilson ran 39% of his routes from the slot in 2020 and 2021 combined. However, most of what pops on tape for Wilson is his ability to win on the perimeter, especially against man coverage. This isn’t to say that Wilson can’t win over the middle of the field – it just wasn’t something that I noticed a lot in seven-game sample for this film study.
2. Beating press coverage isn’t necessarily a “strength” for Wilson.
In the games I watched, it seemed like Wilson would win most often with the CB playing man coverage off the line by a few yards. In these scenarios, Wilson was excellent, using quickness, body control, and burst to create separation. However, there weren’t many instances of Wilson having to play against longer physical corners. It’s possible that could be an area for Wilson to improve upon at the next level as his competition gets more difficult.
2022 Fantasy Outlook
With a strong production profile, several strengths on tape, and a first-round NFL Draft selection, Wilson is going to pop in a lot of rookie rankings as a top three or four WR in this class. Certainly, if you’re looking at rookie drafts for dynasty leagues, Wilson deserves to go in the top 8 picks and looks like a steal if he somehow falls to the back half of the first round.
From a redraft outlook, we know 2021 Ja’Marr Chase seasons don’t grow on trees. Expecting WR1 production or anything close to what Chase did as a rookie last year is very likely to be fool’s gold. That said, there is a chance for Wilson to step on the field and contribute right away as a rookie, possibly as a WR2 for an NFL offense. Of course, there’s a lot that needs to go right for young WRs to contribute enough for it to matter for fantasy football purposes, but when we look at those that succeed early in their career, it’s typically the best route runners that win out at the next level. Wilson fits the bill on that front, for sure.
Wilson has been mocked to the Jets at 10, the Chargers at 17, and the Eagles at 19. If he lands on any of those teams, there’s an immediate role for a rookie WR to step into a full-time role. Landing spot will mean a lot in Wilson’s 2022 outlook for fantasy purposes.