One of the hazards of a strong position group in the draft is that it can be easy for some players to fall through the cracks. It doesn’t really matter what position group it is, but when faced with a strong class it’s just natural that the players at the top of the big board will overshadow players who had down years or some deficiencies.
That’s particularly true of the 2021 wide receiver class, which comes on the heels of a pair of strong classes in 2019 and 2020. With the bar raised by those classes, it shouldn’t be surprising that good players can slip under the radar. But that can be to teams’ benefit if good players fall down draft boards, creating the opportunity for value picks later in the draft.
Oklahoma State receiver Tylan Wallace has dealt with injury and a down 2020, and is being overshadowed by more highly-touted prospects. However, he has the potential to be a significant contributor in the right situation.
Prospect: Tylan Wallace
Games Watched: vs. Tulsa (2019), vs. Oklahoma (2020), vs. Texas (2020), vs. Miami (2020)
Red Flags: ACL (2019), Knee, groin (2020)
Games Played: 37
Yards (YPC): 3,434 (16.8 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 26
Games Played: 10
Yards (YPC): 922 (15.6 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 6
Best: Quickness, agility, acceleration, speed, run after catch
Worst: Injuries, contested catch situations, press coverage
Projection: A third receiver (slot or flanker) in a West Coast or spread offense
Tylan Wallace is a quick, agile, and fast receiver prospect from Oklahoma State University.
Wallace played all three primary receiver positions for Oklahoma State’s offense, aligning at the X, Flanker, and slot positions. He primarily lined up on the outside of the offensive formation, but would motion inside to the slot for certain plays and personnel packages.
Wallace has good diversity in his releases, both accelerating hard off the snap of the ball and varying his tempo to disrupt defenders’ timing. He also shows the foundation for being able to use his hands to defeat press coverage and keep himself clean through the route. Wallace is a savvy route runner for a college prospect, using several strategies to disrupt defensive backs and create separation in his routes. He makes full use of his speed and acceleration in his route running, varying the tempo of his routes to throw off defenders’ timing before accelerating smoothly. Likewise, his agility and quickness allow him to add subtle fakes to his routes to further disguise his intentions.
Wallace flashes the ability to be a hands catcher, locating and extending to pluck the ball out of the air. He shows solid body control to make the catch then put himself in position to pick up yards as a ball carrier. Wallace consistently looks for additional yardage after the catch, and is dangerous with the ball in his hands. He is particularly effective against off and zone coverage, navigating traffic easily and finding voids in coverage. Wallace has an explosive burst after the catch, breaking defenders’ angles as well as powering through attempted arm tackles. He has good vision as a ball carrier, plotting courses through the defense and using his speed to turn modest gains into chunk yardage.
As good as Wallace is against off and zone coverage, he can be frustrated by tight man coverage. He has the beginnings of an understanding of how to use his hands to slip man coverage, but doesn’t do it consistently and as a result can struggle to create separation. Likewise, he can be inconsistent in other technical aspects of his craft, such as catching the ball with his hands — at times letting it into his chest — or maintaining awareness of the play around him.
Wallace can also be bullied at the catch point and struggles to properly position himself to prevent defenders from making plays on the ball in contested catch situations.
Teams will also want to pay close attention to Wallace’s medical reports. He suffered a torn ACL in 2019 and had nagging groin and knee injuries in 2020.
Overall Grade: 6.4 - This prospect has a high athletic upside, but technical issues and a significant injury history are a concern.
Tylan Wallace projects best as a number three receiver in an offense using West Coast or spread principles.
While he spent significant time at the “X” receiver position at Oklahoma State, Wallace is better suited to the slot or flanker roles at the NFL level. Not only would playing off the line of scrimmage help to protect him against press-man coverage, but the routes commonly run by those positions would play to Wallace’s strengths. He has the speed to stretch the field vertically, but he is at his best when he can get the ball in space and unleash his athleticism.
Being an offense’s third receiver would allow teams to get Wallace matchups on slot corners or against lower level outside corners. A creative offensive coordinator should be able to use Wallace’s athleticism to keep defenses off balance, using him in catch and run situations off of slants or mesh concepts, on screen play as well as vertical routes, and even put him in motion behind the line of scrimmage to disguise running plays.
Injuries are certainly a concern with Wallace, and not being an every-down player out of the gate will give teams an opportunity to make sure previous injury concerns don’t become ongoing issues.
Wallace has the potential to work his way into a starting job for a team which makes heavy use of 11-personnel packages, provided he is able to improve his consistency. However, he can be productive early in his career if put into position to play to his strengths.