If there’s a quarterback out there who displays more toughness and willingness to hang in the pocket, and take a shot, than Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, I’ve never seen him. Wilson, the latest in a long line of Bobby Petrino pedigreed quarterbacks, may very well have been his best to date. While he lacks the elite arm strength of his predecessor, Ryan Mallett, other areas of his game more than compensate.
Size: Listed at 6’3″ 220 Wilson brings prototypical NFL size at the quarterbacking position to the table. There were some reports out recently that had suggested he was taped at 6’1″ but from personal experience I find these reports to be highly suspect.
Arm Strength: While he doesn’t posses the elite arm strength of his predecessor at Arkansas, Ryan Mallett, Wilson does have the requisite arm to complete passes to all nine routes on the route tree, including the vaunted deep out. He possesses above average velocity on his passes, and has the ability to complete passes he shouldn’t from off his back foot.
Accuracy: Wilson is a very accurate passer, who does an excellent job of placing the ball where only his receiver will have a play on it. He at times, under pressure, has struggled to place the ball in front of his receivers (in stride) on crossing routes, negating chances at bigger gains, and will on occasion short (or “hang”) a deep ball; but for the most part puts the ball where only his receivers can make a play on it.
Mechanical: There is certainly work to be done here. Wilson has a propensity for throwing off of his back foot when under pressure that will need to be corrected as he transitions to the NFL. Otherwise he’s pretty solid. Keeps a good base, has a tight compact delivery, spins the ball cleanly, and stand upright in the pocket even in the face of some vicious hits.
Mobility: Perhaps one of the more underrated aspects of Wilson’s game is his mobility. He appears very comfortable off of bootleg play action, and has no trouble using his feet to buy time, or pick up yardage. The tape on the first half of the 2011 Arkansas/LSU game really gives the viewer a good idea of his deceptive foot speed.
Pre/Post Snap Reads: Prior to the snap, Wilson does a great job of diagnosing mismatches and defensive coverages, though he seems to have trouble identifying disguised corner blitzes. Tape of 2011 games against Auburn, Miss St., and LSU all showed Wilson failing to identify the blitzing corner and taking sacks and/or fumbling the football. Post snap he dissects defenses pretty well, though will, on occasion lock on to a receiver, especially on shallow or mid crossing routes, a staple of the Arkansas playbook. His poise in the pocket, and willingness to stand tall and take a hit are unmatched by any other QB in this class.
Intangibles/Character: Another area where I fell Wilson really separates himself from his peers in the coming class, is his off the charts intangibles. A consummate student of the game and film junkie, Wilson is described as a leader in the clubhouse (in the wake of the post Bobby Petrino scandal and firing, Wilson kept several teammates from quitting, and rallied others to recommit to winning the coming season for the team, university, and fans rather than the departed coach) at every turn. His toughness and moxie show on the field, have earned him the respect of his teammates, and that quality will shine through at the next level.
Overall I view Tyler Wilson as the top draft eligible quarterback going into the 2012-13 season. He will have adversity to overcome this coming season with the loss of his top three wide receivers (Joe Adams is now with the Panthers, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright are now with Minnesota), and the departure of his head coach. It will be interesting to see in the coming months, both how Wilson handles that and what heights he rises to in season and in the draft.