Very few people were talking about Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt at the start of the 2022 season. After all, he had largely been an afterthought in the Volunteer’s offense in 2020 and 2021 and had produced just over 500 yards and 4 touchdowns in those seasons combined.
However, then he took advantage of Cedric Tillman’s injury and absolutely exploded onto the national scene in 2022. Tillman averaged just under 19 yards per catch and scored 15 touchdowns in his breakout season and was ultimately named the Biletnikoff Award winner and best receiver in the country.
The New York Giants have worked to add speed to their offense in 2022. And they could certainly use a vertical element in an offense that featured the fewest explosive plays and intended air yards of any team in the NFL.
Could Jalin Hyatt be that spark?
Prospect: Jalin Hyatt (11)
Games Watched: vs. Pittsburgh (2022), vs. Kentucky (2022), vs. Alabama (2022), vs. Georgia (2022)
Games Played: 29
Yards (YPC): 1,769 (16.4 per catch)
Games Played: 12
Yards (YPC): 1,267 (18.9 per catch)
Best: Speed, explosiveness, ball skills, big play ability, versatility
Worst: Mass, agility, route diversity
Projection: A starting receiver with positional versatility.
(Hyatt is Tennessee receiver number 11)
Tennessee receiver Jalin Hyatt has the traits to be an explosive playmaker at the NFL level.
Hyatt exploded onto the scene from relative obscurity last year. The 2022 unanimous All American racked up 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns on just 67 receptions (18.9 yards per catch) and was named the Fred Biletnikoff Award winner as the best receiver in the country.
Hyatt is a relatively lean receiver at 176 pounds, but played both inside as a slot receiver and as a true wide receiver in Tennessee’s offense. He proved to be a reliable option from both alignments and a surprisingly savvy route runner on the routes he was asked to run. Hyatt worked all levels of the field, using his speed to stretch the defense vertically, working back to the ball in the intermediate area, and as a ball carrier on wide receiver screens.
Speed is Hyatt’s calling card, but he isn’t a “one speed” runner. Instead, he smoothly alters his tempo, stride length, and speed throughout the stem of his route to manipulate defenders’ timing. His raw speed gives him the option of slowing to adjust to the ball in the air, knowing he can add more speed and create separation with most defensive backs that are even with him. Hyatt typically does a very good job of locating and tracking the ball in the air, and he shows a good understanding of the various route concepts in doing so. Hyatt generally doesn’t turn and look for the ball too early in the rep, and therefore sacrifice his speed. He picks up the ball quickly once he looks and tends to make good adjustments downfield to give himself the best chance of hauling in the catch.
He is also a dangerous player with the ball in his hands. Hyatt has good vision at all levels of the field and is good at “getting skinny” to fit through quick-closing holes. His burst and speed are readily apparent and he can turn a sliver of daylight into a big gain.
Hyatt is a willing blocker, and was even used as a blocker on receiver screens for Cedric Tillman, often catching defenses off-guard. He has good competitiveness throughout the rep, though he shouldn’t be mistaken as a “stout” blocking receiver.
Hyatt’s slight frame holds him back and as a blocker and he’s really more of a temporary obstacle for defenders. His lack of mass and play strength can also show up as a receiver. He can struggle some to disengage from tight press coverage, and can also be knocked off of his route by physical coverage down the field. He can also be bullied somewhat at the catch point, though that is somewhat mitigated by the separation he’s able to generate with his speed and route running.
Finally, while Hyatt is a great athlete overall, he lacks the elite agility you would expect to see from a speedster with his size. He can sometimes struggle to make sharp breaks quickly or suddenly change directions in close quarters. He is more of a linear athlete than expected.
Overall Grade: 7.7
Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt projects as a starting receiver with positional and scheme versatility at the NFL level.
Hyatt will have the most value for a team running a vertical passing game – or looking to add a vertical threat. However, his speed and ability as a ball carrier should allow him to fit in almost any offense commonly called in the NFL. That said, he will need development and seasoning before he’s able to regularly contribute to more traditional “Pro Style” offenses. Hyatt simply doesn’t have much experience in schemes that make heavy use of expansive route trees and post-snap reads.
That said, he’s the type of player who can provide instant offense as a vertical receiver or in run-after-catch opportunities. He also shows enough savvy as a route runner (on the routes he was asked to run) to give confidence that he can adapt to more sophisticated offenses relatively quickly. Particularly considering that NFL teams have become willing to use college concepts into their offenses.
Hyatt’s size might be a bigger concern for teams. He is on the slight side for an NFL wide receiver and he might need to be protected from bigger, physical corners by alignment and scheme. He was often paired with a bigger receiver on the perimeter of Tennessee’s offense for just that reason. However, teams should be wary of asking him to gain size and strength at the risk of compromising his speed and athleticism.
Jalin Hyatt isn’t a complete receiver, yet, but he should be a dangerous offensive weapon if he lands in the right situation.