One of the more interesting edge players in this upcoming NFL Draft is Texas Tech edge/OLB Tyree Wilson. Wilson is universally ranked as a top 10 player by several different analysts and services. Dane Brugler of The Athletic has Wilson as his #2 Edge rusher, and in his most recent Mock Draft, he has him going #9 to Seattle. The Draft Network currently has Wilson rated as the number five overall player in the Draft.
What's interesting is that when I watch tape of Wilson performing at Texas Tech, I get very frustrated not because of his play but rather on how Texas Tech uses him within their scheme.
Tyree is a fifth-year player. He started his college career at Texas A&M, where he played for two years, and then transferred to Texas Tech following the 2019 season, and he has been a dominant starter in the last two seasons.
Wilson is a tall, lean and long athlete who will measure in the 6'6 to 6'7 range and weigh in at around 270 to 275 pounds. He has very long arms and is a smooth athlete with speed. Many evaluators believe that Tyree will run in the 4.5s at the Combine.
So, with all those natural traits, why is it frustrating to watch him on tape? Texas Tech has Wilson on his feet most of the time in a 2-point stance, and often in passing situations, he drops into coverage instead of rushing the passer. In my opinion, Wilson is a dynamic pass rusher and should be used as often as possible to rush the passer. Still, with limited reps as a pass rusher and with missing the final two games of the season and the Texas Tech Bowl game vs Ole Miss, he still accumulated 7.0 sacks on the season. It's safe to say that had he been used regularly as a pass rusher and was healthy all season, he may have come close to doubling his total.
Why is Wilson such a good pass rusher? Even though he plays on his feet, he has a quick start, stays low, and is explosive on contact. He uses his long arms very well to keep blockers off his body. He also has the bend and lean necessary to get under opponents when coming off the edge. Even with his lean build, he is strong and possesses a good bull rush.
In the run game, Wilson is quick to react and has the strength and hand use to get off of blocks quickly and get to the ball. He can get tall at times, but for the most part, he stays low and can play with leverage. Because he is used in pass coverage so often, he has a good drop and shows awareness in zone. He keeps good position and reacts well to the ball in the air.
With his experience playing on his feet, both the 3-4 and 4-3 clubs will have interest, but regardless, when he gets to the NFL, he will primarily be a pass rusher.
Where the Chicago Bears presently sit at number one in the Draft order, Wilson would not be a prospect for that pick. If the Bears trade back to further than four in the Draft order, then Wilson immediately becomes a player that the Bears could be interested in. As I mentioned above, Dane Brugler has Wilson going number nine in his latest Mock, and it's safe to say that he won't get out of the Top 10. For the Bears, Wilson would line up at right end and immediately upgrade the pass rush capabilities of the defensive line.
That said, there is an injury issue that is concerning, and that concern will be resolved at the Combine. Wilson broke his foot late in the season and had surgery to repair the break. I have seen no other details other than it was a broken bone that was repaired, but once he gets to Indy, he will undergo an MRI on his injured foot, and the club's medical staffs will research the injury thoroughly. There is a possibility that Wilson will not be able to work out before the Draft, but we won't know that for sure for at least another month. Unless the injury is more severe than has already been put on, it should not hurt his current draft stock.