First and foremost I’d like to extend my prayers to Damar Hamlin, his family, friends, loved ones, and teammates, as I, and the entire NNR community hope for a speedy and healthy recovery. What happened Monday night was a grave reminder to all of us that although we may love this game, and hate it at times when our fantasy players don’t perform, these men are putting their lives on the line, every time they step on that turf. Damar Hamlin’s dream of reaching the NFL became a nightmare very quickly, and should remind us all to appreciate every second we have on this earth.
If some of you reading this don’t know me, that may be a result of my former position as a Vikings writer, however I have been able to switch over to cover my favorite team since childhood, which has run in my family for 3 generations. I’m excited to bring draft profiles and breakdowns to you, as well as potential offseason acquisitions, with a mix of gameday analysis, film breakdown and news.
With all that being said, let’s get right into the first prospect of my time covering the Packers, Tyree Wilson. With a player like Wilson, the Packers would be addressing a need at pass rusher which may soon be lacking with the aging of Preston Smith, leaving a group of Rashan Gary, J.J. Enagbare, La’Darius Hamilton, and Jonathan Garvin. Although I have been quite high on Enagbare since the draft, and throughout his relatively surprising first season (for a 5th-round rookie’s expectations that is) it never hurts to have higher quality and more depth in the pass rushing room. I believe if the Packers are able to work out a reasonable cap number with Preston Smith this offseason, they will keep him for one more season, however it’s not a given considering Enagbare’s successful season, the impending return of Rashan Gary, and a potential acquisition of an elite pass rushing prospect in April’s draft. Wilson is the definition of a boom or bust prospect, which many consider to be the Packers draft strategy. If you look throughout recent drafts, and Packers history, they have always been a team that drafts for tools and talent over production. For one, in the pass rushing room himself, Rashan Gary, who was on pace for a personal record-shattering season and DPOY candidacy before sustaining an ACL tear. We have picks of the last 3 years such as Jordan Love, who had stunning arm potential that enticed the Packers enough, Eric Stokes with his dazzling speed, and Christian Watson with both his supreme size and jetpacks for feet. Point being, the Packers believe in their organizational ability and coaching to complete unfinished products coming out of college, and so they take those with the best physical traits that may be unpolished, rather than elite producers. This is also due to their consistently lower drafting position which can be attributed to long term team success, where high production, high talent players don’t fall to the end of the first round, and they are forced to pick between the two in most cases.
Onto Wilson the player, as opposed to Green Bay’s potential affinity for him, he is an incredible athlete with some of the best size you’ll find. Wilson is a player very similar to Travon Walker, and has the potential to skyrocket up boards during the draft process in a similar way that Walker did, rendering him way out of the Packers likely draft position. Wilson boasts a 6’6, 275 LB frame, and although he is a bit on the older side, a senior coming out at age 22.7, 23 years old by the draft, he has shown the flashes that lead scouts to believe he may become one of the premier pass rushers in the league. Wilson’s production through a year at Texas A&M and final 3 at Texas Tech will not take anyone aback, 17 sacks through 4 years and 7 a piece in his final 2 seasons generally doesn’t garner a player first round draft capital. Where it lies with Wilson however is the tools he’s displayed on film, which have any coach licking at their chops believing they can be the one to make him into the league’s next Nick Bosa, Jadeveon Clowney or Myles Garrett. One thing to note about NFL coaches is they will draft on ego, that they can prove they are superior to other coaches because of their ability to develop unpolished, toolsy players. We see it all the time with quarterbacks especially, and we’ll most likely see it again this year with QBs like Anthony Richardson and Will Levis. But that’s a topic for another day. Wilson also comes in with 74th percentile speed at a 4.82 40-yard dash, bound to improve by the time the combine rolls around. What also stands out about his frame is his 98th percentile arms, at 35 ⅝ inches, and wingspan of 86 inches, 99th percentile. These two measurements alone, combined with his weight and speed, would lead any competent coach to believe they could make a monster out of him. Right off the page, we know Wilson’s size will immediately allow him to handle the physicality of the NFL. His explosiveness will make him a player defensive coordinators always want to keep on the field, and offensive coordinators have to scheme around. On tape, he is quick off the line, and uses his long arms to bend around edge protectors, and then finish off the play with elite straight-line speed to pressure, sack or tackle the ball carrier in the backfield for a loss. Unlike previous project players coming out, such as Kyler Murray, there is no question to Wilson’s motor, you’ll never see him taking plays off or not putting in 110% effort. A few things to note in his game that he will need to improve upon however, are his pass rush moves, which are coachable at the NFL level, but not yet developed in his repertoire, and his reactivity when he’s not able to jump past his opposition off the snap. NFL Tackles will have better reactions off the snap and Wilson won’t just have an advantage off the line most plays as it seemed the case in college. If this sounds eerily similar to a scouting report you may have seen on Kayvon Thibodeaux last year, its because it is, and it has seemed to turn out pretty well for the Giants this year with his instant impact as a playmaker and soon to be premier pass rusher in our league.
Finally, his fit in the Packers defense. Granted we see Joe Barry back, as he’s found a way to rejuvenate this defense after a mid-season job, likely saving his position along with it. Wilson would slide into Preston Smith’s current role about a year out from when he’s drafted, and would have time to learn behind the perennial star pass rusher, and develop alongside Rashan Gary. By 2024, the Packers pass rush could be best in the league with the duo of Gary and Wilson, with Clark and Wyatt clogging up the inside. That being if all goes according to plan with Wilson first being selected by the Green and Gold, and then being correctly coached up, something Green Bay has a knack for doing. With Wilson and Gary both being elite athletes, defensive coaches in Green Bay would have a fun time game planning for Justin Fields, and whatever heir apartments replace Kirk Cousins and Jared Goff, for the next generation of Packer football. Gary and Wilson could just become the fastest edge rushing duo able to contain all the new mobile quarterbacks that are becoming so popular in today’s league.