The NFL draft is a unique process. Fans and media play catch up to what NFL teams have been processing throughout the year with their college scouting. Early in the process, fans and media focus on college stats, highlights and performances in the Senior Bowl or Shrine Bowl.
Teams, like the Cleveland Browns, have gone beyond those things and are digging into the film, into the data and into background checks.
WR Roman Wilson is an intriguing player whose stock from the end of the college season to the draft could change. Our Barry Shuck interviewed Wilson at the Senior Bowl and took note, twice (here and here) of Wilson’s performance in practices.
Shuck was so impressed by Wilson that he made the wide receiver his top pick in the All-Senior Bowl Browns Mock Draft. For fans and media catching up, spending a second-round pick on a player who never had 50 or more receptions, never had 800 or more yards and only once had double-digit touchdowns might seem like a reach.
Instead of a reach, it is possible that Shuck was ahead of the game as Wilson’s 12 touchdowns last year and 16 yards per reception for his career in a run-first offense in Michigan are just a couple of reasons he might be gone near the top of the second round or, potentially, late in the first.
PFF’s data on him stands out and if his NFL combine performance matches expectations, Wilson could fly up the boards:
I think the analytics community is going to fall in love with #Michigan WR Roman Wilson.— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) February 9, 2024
98th percentile receiving grade
97th percentile receiving grade vs. single coverage
93rd percentile separation percentage vs. single coverage
80th percentile yards per route run.…
The ability to create versus single (man) coverage is vital at the NFL level. Wilson’s also shown adept route running and feel for the game that will translate against zone defenses.
For Cleveland, a wide receiver is an important position to continue to pour resources into but Wilson could see his stock out of reach for the Browns first selection. Instead, perhaps taking a flyer later in the draft on his teammate Cornelius Johnson would be more realistic.
Do you think receiver is Cleveland’s top priority in the NFL draft? Do you think Wilson will be available when they pick?