Garrett Wilson is an Austin, Texas native and junior at Ohio State University. He was a five-star prospect and ranked as a top-15 recruit, regardless of position, by 247sports.com. At Lake Travis High School, he completed his career with 204 receptions for 3,359 yards and 55 total touchdowns. He also averaged 21.0 points per game for the basketball team.
In Columbus, he was part of an elite trio of wide receivers who led the nation in scoring with 45.7 points per game (1st of 130 teams). He was First-Team All Big Ten in 2020, and Second-Team in 2021.
He closed his college career with six touchdowns and 371 yards over his last three games.
Ohio State University
Games Watched: Michigan (2021), Michigan State (2021), Alabama (2021), Purdue (2021)
It didn’t take long for Wilson to contribute to Ryan Day’s offense. He played in 14 games as a freshman, and was on the field for 240 pass snaps. At age 19, he had 42 targets with 30 catches and 432 yards. He also chipped in with five touchdowns and a strong 14.4 yards per catch average.
Being an immediate contributor to a star-studded Buckeyes team is one thing, but it’s also important to build upon that success. In 2020, with a season shortened due to COVID-19, he played in all 8 games and compiled 723 yards with six touchdowns. But this sophomore season is where he displayed his versatility. Of his 256 passing snaps, 188 of these plays were from the slot position, and Wilson began to broaden his skillset. That year, Wilson met his career watermark of 16.8 yards/reception.
Wilson continued to thrive in his third and final year in Columbus. He was second on the team in targets (70), behind Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and provided 1134 scrimmage yards with 13 touchdowns.
His target share of 26.4% and College Dominator score of 29.4% proves that he was he a vital component of the Buckeye offense. For context, College Dominator is indicative of a receiver’s percentage of a team’s total passing production.
When watching Wilson, something immediately pops off the screen–his incredible body control and ability to contort in the air. Wilson has the uncanny ability to high-point jump balls, which has given him a surprising edge on contested throws. Ohio State Quarterback CJ Stroud threw confidently towards Wilson, even while covered, and the receiver won consistently.
Wilson ranked in the 61st percentile for contested catches among wide receivers who have see 50+ targets in 2021, per Pro Football Focus. Which is an appealing trait considering his average stature.
Check out this beauty against Michigan in Week 12.
Perfect ball placement by CJ Stroud as he hits Garrett Wilson for an Ohio State TD. The Buckeyes get in the end zone to take the lead for the first time today.
OHIO STATE 10
— Brendan Moore (@bmoorecfb) November 27, 2021
This body control transcends simply jump balls. With the ball in his hands, Wilson is a composed runner and will patiently wait for his blocking to align. There are shades of Le’Veon Bell to his running style as he seems to hesitate, jump step and then accelerate when he sees an opening. He routinely makes defenders miss due to his stop-and-go run after catch style.
— Justin Gray (@Justin_Jets) March 25, 2022
Although Wilson’s running mate Chris Olave gets all the kudos in terms of route-running, Wilson shouldn’t be regarded as a slouch. In fact, the difference between the Buckeye receivers is negligible.
Wilson is a nuanced route-runner and routinely shows good footwork. He does most of his damage in the short and intermediate range, and it was common to see him run shallow in-routes and hitches.
Here is an example of the Stroud/Wilson connection at Ohio State’s Pro Day earlier this week.
— COACH OVERTON (@WR_COACH_O) March 26, 2022
The Buckeye offense took advantage of their myriad of weapons and the fact that they had three 1,000 yard receivers. All three of their top targets provided an easy outlet for Stroud, and could win routes easily.
Wilson provided a consistent target, and established timing and rhythm with his quarterback. A threat to take the top off of the defense with his 4.3 speed, cornerbacks had to respect Wilson’s ability to stretch the field.
This would leave them vulnerable to what Wilson does best, throttling down, and coming back to the line of scrimmage. It was common place to see an opposing defender get lost out in space and Wilson dance around him.
Here’s a great example against Michigan State, where the defensive back defers to Wilson’s speed, but ultimately loses leverage as Wilson breaks back.
Garrett Wilson continues to push vertically until the CB flips his hips almost all the way downfield.
He then snaps the route off and works back to the line of scrimmage for the completion.
Garrett Wilson comeback routes are 💰 pic.twitter.com/Md6Ep0jaIB
— Aidan Maher (@Aidan_Maher17) March 21, 2022
OSU Head Coach, Ryan Day, reflecting on Garrett Wilson
. @OhioStateFB Head Coach @ryandaytime joined me and shed some GREAT light on coaching the likes of receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. Listen to this perspective… @nflnetwork #BuckeyeNation pic.twitter.com/Sme4cPy3TN
— StaceyDales (@StaceyDales) March 24, 2022
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- While there is much to like about Wilson, no prospect is perfect. At times, Wilson can have frustrating drops due to lack of concentration. Surprisingly, these drops occurred on short depths of target, and more so as a result of anticipating contact. He will take his eyes off the ball as he focuses on an closing defender, and this mental lapse will result in an incompletion. But ultimately, this is being nitpicky, since he only has six drops on the year.
- Although he’s a willing blocker, he doesn’t generate a lot of push due to his size, so I wouldn’t trust him as a focal point of the run game.
- Even though he does have explosive speed, he was used as more of a volume receiver in the short-area. It has yet to be proven if he can win consistently on deep plays and shots down the field.
- At 6’0, 190lbs he has average NFL size. But in a deep WR class consisting of big-bodied receivers, he may get lost in the mix due to physical traits.
Ideal Role and Potential Fits
Wilson would thrive as a “Z” wide receiver who can shift in motion pre-snap and be deployed in a variety of ways. He is an explosive prospect who can play in the slot, on the boundary, and even return punts in a pinch.
As a complimentary piece, Wilson would thrive working off a true “X” receiver who can stretch the field and generate attention. With this added space, he could eat up holes in the defense and provide a quick outlet for his quarterback. He’s a zone-buster, and his type of game can easily translate to the professional level, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he hauled in 50 balls as a rookie.
The New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Commanders are all in the market for wide receiver, and the OSU product is projected to go in the upper half of the first round. He may be the first receiver to hear his name called in April’s draft.
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