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FiveThirtyEight ranks Garrett Wilson as top 20 wide receiver in 2022

Syndication: Democrat and Chronicle JAMIE GERMANO / USA TODAY NETWORK

With the second of their three first round picks in the 2022 NFL draft, the New York Jets selected wide receiver Garrett Wilson from Ohio State. At the time, Wilson entered into a wide receiver room that was rather wide open, headlined by names such as Elijah Moore and Corey Davis who were productive in 2021 but hardly game changing talents. Accordingly, Jets fans’ hopes for Wilson were rather high (not unlike many other Jets draft picks over the few seasons).

What stands Wilson apart from other Jets’ draft picks in recent years is that he not only lived up his billing, but in many ways exceeded all (reasonable) hopes. Specifically, Wilson accounted for over 1000 receiving yards, breaking the Jets rookie record for receiving yards in doing so.

Additionally, the underlying analytics seem to support that Wilson’s performance was legitimate rather than a fluke. In one example, analytics site FiveThirtyEight recently released their wide receiver rankings. Notably, these rankings are based on their evaluation of receiver performance rather than output, which is why Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver AJ Brown is able to ‘outrank’ a receiver such as Justin Jefferson in these rankings even though Brown had roughly 300 fewer yards receiving this season than Jefferson.

In a broad sense, these wide receiver rankings assign grades on a ‘per-play’ basis on three aspects of wide receiver play: getting open, creating yards after the catch (YAC), and catching passes. More detail on the ways in which these scores are calculated can be found here.

Within these rankings, Garrett Wilson was ranked as the 16th best wide receiver in 2022 (tied with Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams). Notably, this ranking was largely carried by his open score, wherein he was ranked the 13th best wide receiver. Per FiveThirtyEight, open scores are calculated by “Open Score assesses the likelihood a receiver would be able to complete a catch, conditional on if he were targeted. The assessment takes place a moment before pass release (0.2 seconds prior), because defenders read the shoulders of the quarterback at release and break on the targeted receiver.” Similarly, Wilson excelled in YAC (ranked 19th) but ranked a bit lower on catching passes (ranked 49th).

Overall, these results provide evidence to support that Garrett Wilson was not just a great rookie wide receiver in 2022 but a great wide receiver in the broader sense. For Jets fans seeking an end to the decade long playoff drought, the emergence of this potential star wide receiver can only be viewed as a positive.

But what do you think? Was Garrett Wilson actually this good in 2022 and where can he get better in 2023? And what do you think of his more narrow statistical rankings?