Chris Olave vs. Garrett Wilson. Which wideout’s name will be called first during the 2022 NFL Draft?
The 2022 NFL Draft Class should feature another impressive wide receiver class including what many expect will be the Ohio State Buckeyes’ impressive duo. Garrett Wilson, an underclassman, has yet to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft but is widely expected to be a first round pick like his current teammate Chris Olave, which begs the question. Which of the two standout receivers will be picked first on draft day? Let’s speculate between Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, shall we?
There are a litany of traits and skills to consider when evaluting the wide receiver position. What is most coveted or weighed most heavily during the evaluation varies from scout-to-scout, team-to-team. However, one can generally account for most of those attributes at three intervals during a play. My personal approach is:
- Before the catch
- At the catch point
- After the catch
Before the Catch
Route-running and the ability to consistently separate against man coverage tops the list for me “Before the Catch”. But there is so much to unpack as it relates to route-running, as the overarching skill is incredibly nuanced.
When watching Chris Olave the fluidity in which he gets in and out of his breaks jumps off the screen. Garrett Wilson is no slouch in this department but Olave is a bit more refined before the catch considering that he generates separation not only with quality footwork and route pace but his entire body. Olave can sell one particular route with his head, eyes and shoulders and transition smoothly to the actual pattern using his lower body. “Poetry in Motion” is appropriate when describing Olave before the catcch.
At the catch point
We conitnue the Chris Olave vs. Garrett Wilson conversation at the catch point. The catch point or “moment of truth” is what invokes the quarterback’s confidence to simply give his receiver a chance to make a play. Whether it be a 50/50 jump ball situation or the body control to adjust and make the indefensible back shoulder catch; great coordination and strong hands are essential at the catch point. Garrett Wilson is a twitchy athlete that can climb the ladder, twist and contort his body making the spectacular look routine.
Early in my film study I was under the impression that Wilson was far and away better at the catch point compared to Chris Olave. However, that isn’t the case. Olave like Wilson has demonstrated some impressive body control and athleticism to attack the football and make contested grabs when the defensive back is in phase.
There’s a certian level of competitiveness necessary to be effective at the “moment of truth” and both wideouts possess it. Interestingly enough, Olave has more career touchdowns by a signficiant margin but Wilson strikes me as a better redzone threat. In fact, Wilson profiles more as an “X” boundary receiver compared to Olave.
However, it would be unwise to summarily dismiss Olave’s ability to be the lead dog in an NFL offense’s passing attack. Still, Wilson’s innate ability to find the ball and overall athleticism give him the edge at the catch point.
After the catch
Chris Olave vs. Garrett Wilson after the catch. The ability to take a short reception and turn it into an explosive play, or better yet, points. Give me Wilson. He is the more gifted ball carrier. Chris Olave has good speed, is shrewd after the catch and understands where the sticks are.
Wilson, on the other hand, puts legitimate pressure on defenders in the open field. Apparently the more athletic of the two, Wilson’s change of direction puts defenders in conflict. Often, Wilson will utilize a spin move or a jump cut to generate additional yardage and could step out of a tackle at any point and hit his head on the goal post.
So who gets picked first during the 2022 NFL Draft? Chris Olave could very well be the next Justin Jefferson given his competitiveness and ability to consistently create separation. I anticipate Garrett Wilson will test better during the draft process. Olave has been more productive duing this Ohio State tenure. Wilson has the desired traits of a #1 wideout. Olave is the superior player before the catch and Wilson is the preferred player at the moment of truth and after the catch.
It’s a tough call, but for my money I believe NFL scouts and front offices will be compelled by Wilson’s upside and opt for him on day one of the draft just ahead of Chris Olave.