When Tyler Wilson decided to return for his senior season at Arkansas, I don’t think he envisioned it going the way it did. The Razorbacks were expected to contend for a national championship and SEC title before Bobby Petrino’s indecent contact with a coed and dismissal. Wilson and the Razorbacks struggled the entire 2012 season after beginning it ranked number five in the country. Wilson’s struggles were a direct result of losing his quarterback guru, three starting wide receivers, and inconsistent line play that all were gone after being All-SEC the prior year.
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Wilson strengths begin with his ability to lead men. He was a two time team captain that garnered respect even when he was backing up current Patriot quarterback, Ryan Mallet. This trait was exemplified by the shots he took throughout his career from free flying defenders. Every game there was at least one time Wilson took it in the chin when releasing a ball and popped right back up to lead his team.
When evaluating Wilson’s arm talent, you can’t help but be impressed with his ability to consistently deliver the ball to his receivers without making them break stride on crossing routes, swing passes and screens. This allowed the talented playmakers his junior year to do significant damage against some the SEC’s best defenses. Wilson’s has good but not great arm strength for every NFL throw and his delivery is consistently a spiral. I specifically liked Wilson’s connection with Cobi Hamilton on the back shoulder fade that displays the mutual understanding and football intelligence to succeed in the NFL. Wilson varies the trajectory and velocity of his passes when he recognizes the coverage effectively, essentially eliminating a defender’s ability to make a play on the ball.
Wilson is not the tallest quarterback but is solidly built throughout his body, very important considering the number of shots he took in college. Wilson showed decent pocket mobility and elusiveness when forced to tuck and run considering his limited athleticism. He is also coachable as he was able to tighten his throwing motion between his junior and senior years successfully. It provided him a quick compact throwing motion without sacrificing strength.
As good as his arm when he steps into his throws, he really struggles to get the ball down field when this process is disrupted. Wilson coupled this with a tendency to try and force plays when there were no plays to be made. These plays are often forgotten by media outlets because so often Wilson makes something out of nothing. This trait looked a lot worse his senior year because of the position the Razorbacks were so often in. His junior year this looked like spectacular playmaking but his senior year it looked like he was just trying to do too much. In reality it is probably somewhere in between for Wilson.
When going through his progressions, he is late pulling the trigger when it isn’t his first read. Often this was also because he locked onto his first target. Even worse at times, he would throw it to his first target in this scenario. This is because Wilson locks onto to his targets. A feature about him that led to defenders undercutting his routes. When locked in like this, his peripheral sight of defenders would be lost and led to a number of interceptions.
As for his great numbers with Petrino, you can look at a laundry list of quarterbacks selected under the tutelage and none of become productive NFL starters (yet, holding out hope for Ryan Mallet). Petrino’s system is simple read system where the short area is cleared out by deep vertical routes and the quarterback is asked to get it out his hands and into a playmaker’s early. Effective recruiting and skill creates mismatches that result in inordinate amount of yards after catch for Arkansas.
His toughness was admirable but the resulting injuries have to give some evaluators and decision makers pause.
Wilson will go somewhere in the back end of the first round or in round two. He typifies how quarterback value pushes them up the board on draft day. I grade him out as a 3rd to 4th round pick because he will need a strong supporting cast to be successful. Tony Romo comes to mind when making a pro comparison, as they both will throw the ball up for their playmakers to make the play and depending on the result will look like the hero or the goat.
Grade – 6.9