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NY Jets WR Garrett Wilson offers 3 elite traits that will elevate Zach Wilson

Garrett Wilson, NY Jets, Stats, PFF Grade, Draft, Jersey Number
Garrett Wilson, New York Jets, Getty Images

Analyzing New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson’s strengths and weaknesses

The New York Jets used the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft (acquired from the Seattle Seahawks) to select Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson.

With franchise quarterback Zach Wilson entering his second season, it’s no secret that the selection of Garrett Wilson was made with Zach’s development in mind. New York is hoping that Garrett can provide Zach with another reliable weapon to aid in his ascension.

Garrett was a fantastic pick to accomplish that goal. He offers three particular elite-level traits that should immediately help Zach elevate to new heights.

Let’s analyze Garrett Wilson’s entire statistical profile, focusing on his strengths, weaknesses, and usage. We’ll first look at Wilson’s three most intriguing traits before getting into the rest of his profile.

Elite trait #1: Contested-catching ability

When most people think of the term “contested-catch receiver”, they think of a tall wideout, like the 6-foot-5 Mike Evans. But receivers don’t necessarily have to be super tall to make contested catches at a high level.

Wilson is on the smaller side for a wide receiver at six feet and 183 pounds. However, thanks to his jump timing, ball tracking, strong hands through contact, and ability to contort his body in the air, he is actually a very good contested-catch receiver.

Wilson caught eight of his 13 targets that were deemed “contested” in 2021, per Pro Football Focus. That’s a contested-catch rate of 61.5%, which ranked at the 84th percentile among qualified FBS wide receivers. It’s well above the 2021 FBS average of 43.8%.

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Elite trait #2: Elusiveness after the catch/Screen-game productivity

The Jets’ offensive scheme is known for its emphasis on producing yardage after the catch. Wilson is ready to step right in and provide that.

In 2021, Wilson forced 19 missed tackles on 70 receptions, giving him an average of 0.271 missed tackles forced per reception. That ranked at the 88th percentile among qualified FBS wide receivers. The FBS average for wide receivers was 0.153.

Wilson’s total of 19 missed tackles forced was tied for seventh-best among Power-5 wide receivers.

When it comes to yards after the catch, Wilson averaged 6.0 YAC per reception, ranking at the 71st percentile among FBS wide receivers.

Wilson can generate bonus after-the-catch yardage at all levels of the field, but what’s most intriguing regarding his fit in the Jets’ scheme is the fact that he proved himself capable of making things happen in the screen game. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur calls a decent amount of screens, and Wilson should be able to do damage on those schemed-up plays right away.

Ohio State threw 13 screen passes to Wilson in 2021. Wilson caught all 13 of those passes for 138 yards. His average of 10.6 yards per screen pass ranked sixth-best out of the 155 FBS wideouts to get at least 10 screens (97th percentile).

Elite trait #3: Route-running versatility

Wilson is a versatile route-runner who has the potential to become a threat at every level of the field.

According to Reception Perception, Wilson recorded a route-running success rate that qualified as “good” in nine of the 10 primary route varieties, with the only exception being the out route.

via Matt Harmon/Reception Perception (Twitter: @MattHarmon_BYB)

Ohio State enjoyed success when targeting Wilson no matter how deep he was on the field. Here is a look at the Buckeyes’ quarterback rating on passes to Wilson based on how deep he was when the ball came his way:

  • Targets behind line of scrimmage: 116.0 QB rating (84th percentile among FBS WR)
  • Targets 0-9 yards downfield: 115.7 QB rating (88th percentile)
  • Targets 10-19 yards downfield: 135.3 QB rating (91st percentile)
  • Targets 20+ yards downfield: 135.4 QB rating (94th percentile)

Weakness: Drops

Wilson is a tad drop-prone and needs to improve his catching consistency in the NFL.

In 2021, Wilson had six drops against 70 receptions. That’s a drop rate of 7.9%, which only ranked at the 45th percentile among qualified FBS wide receivers. It’s essentially equal to the 2021 FBS average for wide receivers, which was 8.0%.

That is far from a problematic rate, but nevertheless, it’s an area where Wilson can get better.

Three of Wilson’s six drops were in the intermediate range (10-19 yards downfield). Wilson had a woeful 12.5% drop rate in this part of the field and a solid drop rate of 5.8% in all other parts of the field.

Wilson has large hands for the position at 9⅞”, which places him at the 82nd percentile among wide receivers. He already uses these large mitts to his advantage when he plucks balls out of the air in acrobatic situations, but he can improve at minimizing how often he flubs the easy ones.

Build and athletic testing

Here’s a look at some of Wilson’s measurables and how they stack up among wide receivers in NFL Scouting Combine history:

  • Height: 5′ 11¾” (28th percentile)
  • Weight: 183 pounds (11th percentile)
  • Wingspan: 76½” (47th percentile)
  • Arm length: 32” (50th percentile)
  • Hand size: 9⅞” (82nd percentile)

Wilson is on the smaller side but has good length relative to his height and weight.

Here’s how Wilson performed in drills at the Combine:

  • 40-yard dash: 4.38s (90th percentile)
  • 10-yard split: 1.49s (92nd percentile)
  • Vertical jump: 36″ (57th percentile)
  • Broad jump: 123″ (65th percentile)
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.36s (20th percentile)

Wilson showcased excellent long speed and acceleration in the 40-yard dash as he posted a 4.38-second time with a 1.49-second 10-yard split. His 36-inch vertical jump is decent, but it is a surprisingly low number when compared to the eye-popping verticality that he shows on film. In the 20-yard shuttle, Wilson struggled with a 4.36-second time.

Overall, Wilson earned a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 7.77 out of 10. That’s a good number relative to all wide receiver prospects, but it’s actually fairly low for a first-round prospect. Charles Cross, Kenyon Green, Jahan Dotson, and Treylon Burks were the only first-round picks in this draft with a lower RAS. Most first-rounders post a RAS above 9.0.

Outside/slot usage

Wilson began his Ohio State career as an outside receiver in 2019. The Buckeyes moved him into the slot in 2020 before pulling him back outside in 2021.

This past season, Wilson played 81.7% of his snaps on the outside and 18.3% in the slot.

While Wilson gained 797 of his career-high 1,058 receiving yards when lined up on the outside, he was actually more efficient with his limited diet of reps in the slot.

Across 61 routes run out of the slot, Wilson caught 18 of 22 targets for 297 yards and four touchdowns. Ohio State had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 when targeting Wilson out of the slot.

Wilson averaged 4.78 yards per route run out of the slot, which ranked second-best among the 213 FBS wide receivers who had at least 20 slot targets. Only Alabama’s Jameson Williams (selected 12th in this year’s draft by the Detroit Lions) fared better, with a mark of 5.10.

Target volume

Wilson played in a stacked Buckeyes offense that also featured Chris Olave (selected by the New Orleans Saints one slot after Wilson) and likely future first-round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

The dynamic trio was the engine of Ohio State’s offense, eating up 315 of the team’s 477 targets (66.0%).

Targets were distributed quite evenly amongst the three stars. Wilson led the way with 9.3 targets per game (102 in 11 games). Smith-Njigba followed with 8.6 (112 in 13) and Olave came in third with 8.4 (101 in 12).

Rushing capability

Ohio State did not feature Wilson often in the ground game, but when they did, it led to incredible results.

Wilson turned seven career carries into 136 yards (19.4 per attempt), one touchdown, and four first downs. He had four carries for 76 yards, one touchdown, and three first downs in 2021.

This is yet another skill of Wilson’s that will fit like a glove in New York’s offense. The Jets handed the ball to a wide receiver 13 times last season, enjoying success to the tune of 93 yards (7.2 per attempt) and three touchdowns. Expect Wilson to take some of those touches next year.

Garrett Wilson is a great fit who offers high-upside traits

It was widely expected that the Jets would draft a wide receiver with the 10th pick in this year’s draft. We just didn’t know who it would be.

Drake London went off the board to Atlanta at No. 8, narrowing the decision down to Wilson, Olave, and Williams. New York went with the player who is easily the best fit for their offense of the trio (and Wilson is a better fit than London as well).

London offers more size than Wilson. Williams is a better deep threat. Some might argue that Olave is a better route-runner.

But of the top four receivers, Wilson offers the most well-rounded skill-set; and, once again, as it pertains to New York, he was the best fit for their scheme.

Wilson’s wide array of skills and strong compatibility in New York’s offense should give him a realistic chance to be one of this draft’s rookie-year phenoms.

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Richard Hausig
2 years ago

Great piece Michael. Interesting because based on the raw numbers he doesn’t really standout. But… No one is saying he was a reach so i have to assume that his secret sauce is his route running. We see from the guys like Justin Jefferson, Cooper Cupp and others just how important this skill is to a WR in this day and age of “small windows” in the passing game.

The biggest issue you CAN’T fault the last two QBs for is the inability of Jet WRs to create space and get open. When Jet fans say, why do receivers get so wide open against us? We should also ask, why don’t our WRs do the same? And it’s because they have been terrible route runners, IMO. Wilson should really be able to help Wilson when he throws him the Wilson!

Hopefully they can make Tom Hanks proud 🥲

Peter Buell
2 years ago

Slight tweak and maybe rookie coach mistake but I’d like to see Saleh ease up on the physicality in offseason and well in season practices as well.
. We don’t need injuries coming out of camp that are self inflicted like we did last year.
Ride them hard and tough but keep them game ready!

2 years ago

Great article. I knew Wilson was a good fit but these stats make him seem like a better fit then I even thought. Very excited to see him in camp and preseason.

2 years ago

The good news, he’s not the ONLY guy they have. He’ll have opporutnities, one narrative I’ve seen out there is that he adds a speed element to take the top off the defense the Jets’ didn’t have. E. Moore ran in the 4.3’s too, and to me with the 2 of them they have excellent speed at the WR group. Mims isn’t exaclty slow either, IF he can learn the playbook and run the routes. He can certainly be a one trick straight line guy and provide something to the offense. I don’t see the Jets lacking speed, they lack experience both at WR and QB. Wilson was my favorite WR for them, and I’m excited to see how he develops. I hope he has the mental capacity to hit the ground running, pun intended.