As our Rookie Profile Series continues, I’m excited to offer up my first contribution by breaking down wide receiver Jalin Hyatt. There has been a wide receiver from the University of Tennessee selected in three consecutive NFL Drafts, but Hyatt is hoping to be the first one picked on day one since Cordarrelle Patterson in 2013. As of this writing, he’s projected to be drafted near the end of the first round, according to Grinding the Mocks. Let’s dive into Hyatt’s background, production, and potential as we approach the 2023 NFL Draft.
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Hyatt arrived on Rocky Top as a productive, though undersized, four-star recruit who also shined as a track star in high school. He played sparingly early in his college career, starting just one game in each of his first two seasons. He wasn’t on many people’s draft radar heading into his junior season. That changed quickly in 2022.
Hyatt erupted during his junior season. His school record 15 receiving touchdowns tied for the most in the FBS regular season. He led the SEC in nearly every receiving statistic, including receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He was named a unanimous first-team All-American and the Biletnikoff Award winner as the best receiver in college football.
As notable as his season-long statistics were in 2022, nothing is more impressive than Hyatt’s legendary performance against Alabama. He went nuclear with six catches for 207 yards and FIVE touchdowns. He became one of just 13 FBS players since 2000 with at least five touchdowns in a single game. And he did it against powerhouse Alabama!
Hyatt is one of the most athletic players in the draft class. His excellent combine performance didn’t get much hype, probably because it was expected. Among the 49 wide receivers invited to the combine, he had the best broad jump, third-best vertical, and sixth-fastest 40-yard dash time. He didn’t participate in the three-cone or shuttle drills after tweaking his hamstring but plans to run those drills at Tennessee’s pro day.
Games Viewed: Akron (2022), LSU (2022), Alabama (2022), Tennessee-Martin (2022), Kentucky (2022), Georgia (2022), Missouri (2022)
You don’t have to watch his tape too long before you see Hyatt break a huge play. During his junior season, he led the nation in 40+ yard receptions (11), 50+ yard receptions (seven), and 60+ yard receptions (five). According to PFF, he racked up an incredible 28.2 yards per route run on deep passes 20+ yards down the field. That big play ability is on display in the following clip, the fourth of his five touchdowns against Alabama.
Hyatt isn’t just fast on the track, his true football speed pops on film. The farther he gets down the field, the more separation he puts between himself and defensive backs. He isn’t likely to sky over a defender or juke one out of his cleats, but there’s no catching him when he gets the ball in his hands behind the defense.
A perfectly placed deep ball is a thing of beauty, but making that pass is easier said than done. There were plenty of examples on tape of Hyatt tracking and adjusting to the ball in the air. Whether tracking the ball to the sideline or adjusting to an underthrown ball, he showed the ability to change his speed and path to make a play. In the clip below, he slows down and completes the catch in front of the defensive back on an underthrown pass.
While Hyatt excelled at running past and away from defenders, it’s a challenge to find any film of him winning at the line of scrimmage or breaking off a crisp route. Most of his big plays came against zone coverage, where he had the space to get up to speed. Tennesse primarily lined him up in the slot to avoid outside press coverage and get him favorable matchups. They also frequently stacked him behind another receiver out wide, making it impossible for a defender to jam him immediately at the snap, as seen in the previous clip against Alabama.
Nobody would come away from Hyatt’s tape calling him a route technician. He is really, really good at running deep flies and wheel routes, but he didn’t do much else. He’ll occasionally catch a wide receiver screen or an easy slant, but nothing that stands out. He can run a serviceable comeback route when he has a huge cushion but doesn’t bring much to the table in yards after the catch, as seen in the clip below.
Hyatt has all the makings of a prototypical boom-or-bust fantasy football wide receiver. He’ll be capable of putting up spike weeks as soon as he steps on an NFL field, which will be sooner than later if he gets drafted in the first round as he’s currently projected.
The best comp I’ve seen for Hyatt is Will Fuller, which makes a ton of sense. He has similar size and speed and is projected to get similar draft capital. Between injuries, suspensions, and his mysterious disappearance from the league, it’s easy to forget just how great “The Flying V” was when he was right.
As with all rookie wideouts, Hyatt’s landing spot in the NFL Draft will absolutely impact his fantasy value, but I can easily see him going in the late first round of rookie drafts. As for redraft leagues, he’s somebody I’ll be looking to take a shot on in the double-digit rounds. He’ll never be a prototypical alpha wideout, but if he can develop a route tree to go with his elite deep skills, he has the potential to be a high-ceiling weekly starter for fantasy football.
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