There’s always an element of spectacle to football, and the NFL draft is no different. If anything, the nature of the draft amplifies the spectacle.
Players with pro-ready skill sets and technical refinement tend to do well on game day at the NFL level, but it’s the players with rare physical traits who get people excited. Players with exceptional size, incredible speed, or uncommon agility are always eye-catching. And few skill position players in the 2024 NFL Draft are as eye catching as Johnny Wilson out of FSU.
Wilson looks like he belongs on an NBA court, standing 6-foot-6 and yet somehow looking taller than that. He also has surprising athleticism and movement skills for a player of his size. And while Wilson played second fiddle to Keon Coleman in 2023, his physical upside is certainly tantalizing.
New York Giants fans have craved a big receiver since 2008, and they don’t tend to get much bigger than Johnny Wilson. Could this giant-sized receiver become a New York Giant?
Prospect: Johnny Wilson (14)
Games Watched: vs. LSU (2023), vs. Boston College (2023), vs. Clemson (2023), vs. Duke (2023)
Red Flags: Suffered an undisclosed injury during the 2023 season
Weight: 237 pounds
Arm length: 35 1⁄4 inches
Hand size: 9 1⁄2 inches
- Body control
- Long speed
- Competitive toughness
Johnny Wilson is a big, long, athletic, and competitive wide receiver prospect.
Wilsons size simply leaps off the tape as he dwarfs most defensive backs who line up across from him. At 6-foot-6, 237 pounds, he has the kind of frame normally reserved for tight ends, but somehow manages to look lanky thanks to his long arms and legs.
And while FSU lined Wilson up close to the offensive line on occasion, he is definitely a receiver. He has impressive body control and a remarkably flexible lower body that gives him good agility and short-area quickness despite his frame. Wilson is able to drop his hips to lower his center of gravity and cut sharply. That also allows him to adjust to low passes and scrape passes off the turf that taller receivers normally fail to catch.
Wilson’s height, long arms, and body control give him an absolutely massive catch radius that allows him to play over or around defensive backs. His catch radius also allows him to act as something of an eraser and haul in poorly placed passes. His long legs also give him good long speed. That may not translate to a 40-yard dash time, but he has very long strides in the open field that eat up yardage in a hurry. He has some savvy to his route running and does a good job of altering his tempo or pressing his stems vertically on sharply breaking routes.
Finally, Wilson has great competitive toughness. He plays hard away from the ball, and commits to running his routes hard. That sells his routes even when he’s simply running a clear-out route as a part of a larger route concept and isn’t in the progression read. Wilson is also a very willing blocker who’s unafraid of taking on defenders. His size allows him to simply overpower most defensive backs, but he also blocks with good technique for a receiver. Wilson transitions pretty smoothly from receiver to blocker and is often among the first players to celebrate when a teammate makes a play.
- Consistency in technique
- Precision at the top of routes
Wilson’s biggest weakness is consistency.
In some ways, inconsistency is unavoidable. There is a LOT of him and that can magnify any errors in his technique or force him to fight against physics. He can appeal to “flail” at points in his routes or be forced to round off his routes. Corners with both the size to not be bullied by him don’t necessarily need great movement skills to stay in his hip pocket.
That can also make it a little difficult for him to get in position for blocks if he needs to move laterally to meet his man.
That said, Wilson can also have inconsistencies in his technique. He can fail to frame catches correctly, making catches more difficult than they need to be. That can lead to some frustrating drops as well as opportunities for defensive backs to break up passes in tight coverage.
(Wilson is FSU receiver number 14. He wears high socks and long red sleeves.)
Johnny Wilson projects as a third receiver to start his NFL career, but he has the potential to quickly climb the depth chart.
There are few receivers in the NFL with his kind of size and athleticism, and fewer still defensive players with the traits to effectively match up with him. Smaller corners can play his hands or the ball at the catch point, but Wilson has the option of boxing them out, playing around them, or playing above them. Likewise, he should be valuable for teams that want to run the ball or use screens for his blocking ability. Wilson has experience playing both inside and out, but seems like a more natural fit as an X receiver or Flanker at the NFL level.
Wilson won’t be for every team. His unique frame makes a lot possible, but it also prevents him from being used in certain ways. He will never be a catch-and-run receiver like Deebo Samuel or a slot weapon like Victor Cruz in his prime. But Wilson’s upside is obvious if he can manage to even out his game and consistently play to his potential.
Does he fit the Giants?
Yes. He would give their receiving corps a size element they currently lack.
Final Word: A Day 2 value