From the Texas Tech Red Raiders to the Las Vegas Raiders, that’s the reality defensive end Tyree Wilson could be facing as he’s expected to be a Top 10 pick in the NFL Draft and the Silver and Black met with him at the combine.
It’s no secret that the Raiders could use some pass-rush help alongside Maxx Crosby. Last season, Wilson led Big 12 edge rushers with 50 pressures despite missing the final two games of the regular season and the bowl game. He also racked up seven sacks for the second year in a row, proving he can be a productive pass-rusher.
The Texas Tech product also stood out as a run defender, tieing for the Big 12 lead within his position group by logging 25 defensive stops against the run, so he’s a well-rounded player as well.
But the numbers don’t do Wilson’s game justice. He’s one of the most physically imposing defensive linemen in the draft class and that’s what really stands out on his tape.
Tyree Wilson sets the edge but the guard technically gets the TFL here... pic.twitter.com/JqyYVcyRYj— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 29, 2023
Wilson (No. 19) lines up as a stand-up outside backer over the left tackle in our first clip, and NC State is running an outside zone RPO so he ends up taking on the guard. One aspect of his game that’s impressive, especially with his height at about 6’6”, is he’s good at taking on blocks with leverage out of a two-point stance.
At the point of contact, his helmet is slightly under the guard’s and he uses those 35-inch arms to help stand up and lock out the offensive lineman. That allows Wilson to set the edge and forces the running back to cut up the field. This is also a great example of what I mean when I say he’s physically imposing as the guard ends up on the other side of the center and should technically get credit for the TFL here.
Beautiful power rush from Tyree Wilson pic.twitter.com/sYOa4H0yh5— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 29, 2023
Now that we’ve seen Wilson’s power as a run defender, how about a rep as a pass-rusher?
He’s lined up as the left edge at the top of the screen and uses a one-arm stab move to keep the tackle away from him. Take a look at his pad level at the point of contact again. He gets his helmet under the offensive lineman’s for leverage, and he keeps his feet moving through contact so that the lineman can never set his base.
Some pass rushers struggle to recognize when they’ve reached the quarterback’s depth and end up blocking themselves or running themselves straight past the QB. But here, the Red Raider realizes when he’s even with the quarterback and starts to work inside to get the sack and put an end to the Wolfpack’s drive.
With over 35-inch arms, it should be illegal for Tyree Wilson to be able to use a one-arm stab move pic.twitter.com/1n8nk253zX— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 29, 2023
The ball is out way too quickly for Wilson to show up on the stat sheet on our next play but it does serve as another example of how effective his one-arm stab move can be with a better camera angle than the previous clip.
Two things really stand out about this rep and both have to do with the offensive tackle. One, watch how the tackle is basically grasping at air and can’t latch onto Wilson because of Wilson’s arm length. That’s the type of natural gift that can be extremely difficult for opponents to defend against.
Second, look at the offensive lineman’s base at the point of contact. His feet start wide but Wilson is so strong that the lineman is put on skates and his feet end up right next to each other so he has no chance to anchor.
Wilson’s combination of strength and length are big parts of what makes him such a special prospect.
I call this one: Disney on Ice, a Tyree Wilson production pic.twitter.com/1pd8Zc2Mic— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 29, 2023
How about another win with a power rush, this time using the bull rush?
The common themes we’re seeing here are the Texas Tech product has great pad level and keeps his feet moving through contact. These tackles from Texas look like they’re about to join the Olympic speed skating team with how often Wilson put them on skates, and there was almost nothing they could do about it.
Now, unlike the rep above, Wilson could do a better job of recognizing when he’s reached the quarterback’s level and start to work inside. However, any coach will take this rep and that level of nuance and consistency can come with more time and experience.
Tyree Wilson = physical dominance pic.twitter.com/f6eQ9KjC7e— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 29, 2023
Our last clip will show off some of Wilson’s position versatility. Apologies for the grainy video, he’s on the left side of the near hash playing as a 3-technique defensive tackle. He’s in a different alignment than we’ve seen previously, but it’s pretty much the same result.
The Red Raider takes on the block with great leverage and gets his hands on the guard’s chest and it’s game over from there. He’s on the backside of a mid- or inside-zone run and the other/front-side defensive tackle gets taken for a ride, so Wilson isn’t going to be in a position to make the play here.
However, I promise you, you’re not going to find a defensive lineman who is as physically dominant as this in the draft class and the clip above serves as another example.
Bend is probably my biggest concern when it comes to Wilson and you might have noticed that in the clips above. He’s not a guy who can turn tight corners at the top of the rush, meaning he’s going to be reliant on winning with power and inside moves as a pass-rusher.
Obviously, that’s worked just fine for him so far but the NFL could be a whole different ball game where having as many tools in the toolbelt as possible is what separates good rushers from great ones.
Wilson also has a bit of a false step and doesn’t have a good get-off out of a two-point stance. He’s better with his hand in the ground but adding some explosiveness off the line of scrimmage will take his power/bull rush to the next level. If he gets that down, he could be scary good.
The Red Raider’s foot injury is also worrisome to me. That was what kept him out of the team’s final three games of the season and he was supposed to be ready for the Senior Bowl, but couldn’t participate and the same goes for the combine.
Well-renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews did clear Wilson to workout for clubs in mid-April, but it’s not exactly comforting he has a lingering lower-body injury already.
That will be especially concerning if the Raiders want to put a little more weight on him so that he can play inside more. He tipped the scale at 271 pounds in Indianapolis so the team could want to add 10 to 20 pounds to his frame depending on where they want him to line up.
Overall, Wilson’s physicality and natural gifts would make him a welcomed sight in Las Vegas. He’s worth the seventh overall pick and would be a great compliment to Crosby on the defensive line. The Texas Tech product’s versatility would also allow him to be on the field at the same time as Chandler Jones while Jones is still around.