The New England Patriots have failed to get big-time production from their pass catchers for the last few years. Given how successful rookies performed at the wide receiver position recently, and considering that they will have another opportunity to upgrade the spot early on in the draft, it would therefore not be a surprise to see New England invest at least one selection again.
Getting younger, faster, and adding some quality depth will be a top priority for the team this offseason, after all. Doing just that through the draft is the cheapest way of making the job of whoever is playing quarterback in 2021 a lot easier. One player who has seen his draft stock rise over the last few months is Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, a potential Day Two pick who could pay dividends early on in his pro career.
Let’s take a closer look at him.
Name: Tylan Wallace
Position: Wide receiver
School: Oklahoma State (Senior)
Opening day age: 22
2019 stats: 10 games, 59 catches, 922 yards, 7 TDs
Size: 5’11”, 193 lbs
Workout numbers: TBA
Expected round: 2nd/Top 60
Strengths: Wallace has some of the best hands in the 2021 wide receiver class. His ability to be physical with his body and naturally separate down the field makes him a top-eight receiver in the draft. Wallace's best trait is his ability to track the football and high-point the football. He was a huge red zone threat for the Cowboys over the years and made some big catches down the field.
Wallace dominated on the outside and was easily the most explosive WR in the Big 12 this year. Sets up his routes nicely and was a beast at the Senior Bowl showcasing his body positioning and tracking skills. pic.twitter.com/RYBLanhgAi— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) February 10, 2021
To summarize his game in the simplest ways; when the ball is in the air, there are very few things that keep him from catching it. Despite not seeing much press coverage in college, Wallace’s release is very smooth which also a force in the intermediate game. Corners know he’s a true vertical threat with his speed and physicality, he displayed many times attacking corners hips, and blind spots to open himself up over the middle of the field for big gains.
His athleticism doesn’t necessarily jump off the screen but his catch point and contested catching is at the top of the class. Separates well and consistently gives QB a little bucket to drop it into on the outside. pic.twitter.com/5M8zbLZNCy— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) February 10, 2021
Wallace is also more than willing to chip in the run game as he’s extremely physical and loves to lay the wood on people in front of him. Overall, Wallace is one of the more intriguing wide receiver prospects for the Patriots on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
Weaknesses: Wallace’s injury concerns have him down on some team's boards. He had an ACL injury in camp, missing most of the 2019 season as a result, as well as knee complications prior to that. Wallace also needs to expand his route tree a bit to fully mold his game. At Oklahoma State he had a lot of manufactured touches that allowed him to be freed up pretty easily.
Although he was one of the best vertical threats in the class, Wallace will need to learn how to beat pressed man coverage more consistently to continue the success at the pro level as he saw it very rarely in college. Wallace still has a lot of room to grow in terms of rounding out his game. However, the 2018 Biletnikoff finalist has all the tools to be a competent receiver at the next level.
What would be his role? Despite seeing most of his time in college at the Z receiver position, Wallace best projects as either a Z or maybe even an X in the NFL. He has the speed to threaten defenses vertically and go up and get it with the best of them. Wallace adds a dynamic to the room that the Patriots have been itching to get out of 2019 first-round selection N’Keal Harry. He has the ability to step in and fill a nice role in the offense alongside 2020’s leading receiver Jakobi Meyers and a veteran wideout that New England will hopefully add through free agency.
Why the Patriots? It’s no secret the Patriots have one of the worst wide receiver rooms in the league. After failing to select one last year, partnered with the lack of production they have gotten at the position, expect the team to be heavily invested in adding both youth and depth to the position come April’s draft. Wallace checks off all the boxes in terms of what New England is looking for at the position and could come into Foxboro and make an immediate impact in his rookie season.