2022 NFL Draft: Garrett Wilson an early first-round candidate

2022 NFL mock draft: Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Garrett Wilson is one of the top wide receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft (Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
2022 NFL mock draft: Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Garrett Wilson is one of the top wide receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft (Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Ohio State Buckeyes have a number of first-round caliber prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft. Garrett Wilson stands out as one of them.

When it comes to producing NFL talent, few schools do it as well as the Ohio State Buckeyes. Since 2000, They have produced 35 first-round picks, the second most, only behind Alabama. Ohio State once again enters the season as the overwhelming favorite to win the Big Ten and a team filled with NFL prospects.

Among them for the 2022 NFL Draft class is junior wide receiver, Garrett Wilson. Wilson committed to Ohio State in 2018 as a 5-star out of Lake Travis high school in Austin, Texas. It didn’t take Wilson long to make a name for himself in Columbus. He cracked the rotation as a true freshman, something past Buckeye greats such as Michael Thomas and Terry McLaurin weren’t able to do,

Wilson thrived in a bigger role in the 2020 season. In the 8 games Ohio State played, he put up 43 catches for 723 yards and 6 Touchdowns. With Justin Fields throwing the football, Wilson and fellow 2022 prospect Chris Olave combined for one of the most dynamic receiver duos in all of college football.

Wilson has put enough on tape in his two years with the Buckeyes to be a projected first-round pick by many draft analysts, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr and Todd McShay.

2022 NFL Draft: Garrett Wilson on the radar

One of the first things that stand out with Wilson is his ability to create separation. He is a very fluid and sharp route runner. Even though he played out of the slot for most of the 2020 season, Wilson displayed a wide route tree and was able to get open consistently against both man and zone coverage.

Wilson shows a great feel for the game in both his route running and pass-catching. He’s good at finding the soft spots in zone coverages and shows great body control when making catches on the sideline and in traffic. There are some focus drops that show up on film, but they don’t happen enough to be too much of a concern.

Wilson is a type of player who is more dynamic than some of his athletic testing may suggest. His latest recorded 40-yard dash was a 4.61 back in high school. He’s not a burner by any stretch, but Wilson has still shown big-play ability.

The sharp movements that make Wilson such a good route runner also make him a dangerous player in space. His 16.8 yards per catch last season was one of the best in the Big Ten. Wilson’s elusiveness also expanded his role on the Buckeyes, being used on end arounds and punt returns. Wilson likely won’t blow anyone away with his combine, but his film shows the playmaking and athletic ability are there.

As far as blocking goes, Wilson is a work in progress. Standing at six feet, 193 pounds, he isn’t big enough to overpower defenders, and his technique isn’t great either. This is the only part of Wilson’s game I would describe as subpar. There is still time for him to improve, but this isn’t a valuable enough skill to seriously hurt his 2022 NFL Draft stock.

As great of a prospect as Wilson is, he does still have a lot to prove in 2021. He operated out of the slot for most of last season and will need to show he can do the same thing on the outside. Wilson has also been catching passes from one of the most accurate quarterbacks in college football history, in Justin Fields. Putting up another big season with a new quarterback and a new role should further show scouts Wilson’s value and versatility.

Wilson is a great example of a player whose game is based more on football skills than physical traits. He’s not going to physically dominate many guys with his size, and his straight-line speed isn’t anything crazy. But his elite instincts and body control make him an elite wide receiver prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft.