This series will feature the top NFL Draft prospects with insight from the beat reporters that covered them in college. This article is just a preview of the full interview which can be heard on the Deep Slant podcast.
Name: Garrett Wilson
Position: Wide Receiver
School: Ohio State
Height/Weight: 6-0, 183
Hometown: Austin, TX
Below is a portion of Deep Sidhu's interview with Phil Harrison, writer for for Buckeyes Wire and USA Today Sports.
Sidhu: Garrett Wilson right now is rated as the top wide receiver on a lot of draft boards. So tell me what really separates him and makes him elite as a prospect?
Harrison: It's interesting because going into the season, I think he was thought of as maybe the second-best wide receiver behind Chris Olave. But what Wilson has going for him, even though he's a little bit undersized, is he can play both the outside and in the slot and he's done both of those at Ohio State last year. He got moved back to the outside. The year before that, they moved him to the slot and his freshman year he was on the outside. He can do both because he's got good burst off the line, runs really good routes, so he gets separation really quickly. If you're looking for a slot receiver, his route running, his ability to separate right off the line and go through the middle, he did really well two years ago.
However, he is a speed burner - he ran a 4.38 at the Combine, which is fast in its own right. When you start looking at a guy as to what he can do on the field, more than anybody, I think I've seen at Ohio State, he's fast, but he also has the ability to go up in traffic, has really good body control and really good hands. He'll go over top of guys that are taller than him and be able to bring balls down. He's done it time and time again with big plays in his career at Ohio State.
Sidhu: As a true freshman, he played outside and (Wide Receivers Coach) Brian Hartline really wanted to move him to slot receiver even though he was playing well on the outside. What went into that decision to move him and what did you think really made him effective in the slot?
Harrison: They had so many guys that they wanted to get the three best on the field. You already had Chris Olave on the outside who takes the top off of defenses, and they really thought they could get mismatches with Garrett Wilson in the slot. So they put him in the slot and they worked him across the field to get mismatches on guys that weren't as fast and it really worked well. Then as they had graduation, they're like, Hey, well, let's just move him back to the outside because he's well-fitted for that too. So then you had not only Chris Olave on one side, the so-called No. 1 receiver, you had the other No. 1 receiver on the other side. And you just can't guard both, right? They're both going to go down the field and be able to get open. But he has the skill set to do both, has been successful at both.
Sidhu: Where do you think he fits in best in an NFL team? Where can they really maximize the skill set and then on the flip side, it seems like he does it all, but where do you really see the most room for improvement for him?
Harrison: Yeah, if I were to say there's one thing that Garrett Wilson has had a habit of doing when we're talking about improving, he does have a tendency to catch with his body sometimes. I'm not trying to say he's got a problem with drops, but there are some times where maybe the ball bounced off his chest a little bit because he didn't get his hands out in front. Now he's really worked on that and you'll see him time and time again use his hands. But sometimes he reverts back to that, and maybe in traffic or when he's going across the middle, he'll kind of turn and try to catch with his body. I think that's the biggest thing that I know he's trying to work on.
As far as where he fits in the NFL, I don't know that he's going to jump in his rookie season and be a No. 1 guy. I think eventually he will be. But I do think in the NFL, even though you can use him on the outside or the inside, I think the inside makes a lot of sense just because of his ability to create mismatches over the middle and separate and get the ball and then make plays after the catch.
Sidhu: There are some draft boards that have Ohio State WR Chris Olave ranked ahead of Wilson. Where do you think they really stack up against each other?
Harrison: You know, for the longest time and I think even to this day, I really felt like Chris Olave was going to be the better pro just because he's polished. He's had an extra year at Ohio State. He's a smooth route runner, exceptional as far as exceptional technician and he will adjust even though it doesn't look like he's going that fast. Clearly, he put up a 4.39 40-yard dash as well and I think it was 4.26 before they officially made it 4.39. And Garrett Wilson will tell you flat out Chris Olave is faster than I am, even though he had a little bit faster time in the NFL Combine. So to me, he's the more polished right-now ready guy when he's coming out of college but Wilson has, in my opinion, the bigger upside.