This is the first of a two-part mini-series covering former Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson.
Tyler Wilson was somewhat of a surprise selection by the Oakland Raiders in the 2013 draft. The Raiders traded down in the fourth round after Philadelphia moved in front of them and selected Matt Barkley. Reports have recently surfaced that the Raiders had originally targeted Barkley in the draft, so one could assume that the following trade down the draft board was because they no longer had a QB worth picking at that draft spot. It started to look like the Raiders had maneuvered their way into more draft picks while still getting the third-best QB of the draft, Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib; however, in a draft-day surprise, the Giants moved ahead of the Raiders to pick the quarterback to develop behind Eli Manning. In the midst of a QB run, the Raiders then selected Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson with the 112th pick of the draft. I admit to instantly thinking that the Raiders reached on a QB that they didn’t seem to have any connection to. I had not heard anything about Tyler Wilson being connected to the Raiders in any pre-draft coverage I had listened to or read, so I was surprised when we ignored a chance to build defensive depth and drafted a quarterback. However, after conducting a lot of research, I am convinced that Tyler Wilson was the best pick the Raiders could have made. Furthermore, it may end up being the most valuable pick of the draft, as I believe that Wilson has the makeup to be the savior of the franchise (sorry, Flynn and Pryor fans…)
Tyler Wilson was named the starting quarterback at Arkansas before the 2011 season. He had filled in admirably for Ryan Mallet in the 2010 season, a game that I have analyzed for an upcoming film study article, and ended up having a wonderful season. Selected as a team captain, Wilson started all thirteen games that season and led his team to a team-record 11 win season. He broke a vast number of other school and conference records in this season before winning a Cotton Bowl MVP award for his win over Kansas State. This season led to a great deal of hype going into the 2012 season, with some preseason writers citing Arkansas as a sleeper team for the national championship after this win.
Wilson was eligible for the 2012 draft as a redshirt junior, where he was thought to be as high as a first or second-round pick. In fact, one mock draft immediately following the 2012 draft even had him as a possible first-overall selection! (side note: it’s interesting that this author correctly predicted Barrett Jones to St. Louis and Keenan Allen to the Chargers, despite them being chosen rounds later than this in the actual draft.) His decision to return to school to help Arkansas win the national championship would end up hurting this stellar draft positioning. While he stayed in school, his top three wideouts in the 2011 season were drafted into the NFL. Head coach Bobby Petrino was fired amidst a scandal, leaving Wilson with a depleted roster around him. He played admirably this season despite the program imploding around him, leading Arkansas to an early-season win and putting them in great position during the Louisiana Monroe game. However, Tyler Wilson sustained a concussion in this game at the half, leaving him unable to finish this game or play against #1 Alabama. After being held scoreless at home for the first time since 1966, Wilson assumed a true leadership role, appearing in a post-game press conference in uniform and calling out teammates for quitting during the game. He returned the following week and rallied week in and week out to keep his team in games. Despite not having any reliable receivers outside of Cobi Hamilton, his team suffering from an incredible amount of turnovers, and the defense being unable to hold any lead, Wilson was able to pull together a successful individual season. He led the SEC (and was tenth in NCAA) in passing yards per game as he broke a school record with five games of 350 passing yards. This successful individual season was vastly overshadowed by a miserable 4-8 record, making Wilson virtually invisible during the pre-draft process.
As the draft process went on, reports began to surface about Tyler Wilson’s negatives: small hands, a weak/inconsistent arm, his gunslinger mentality, etc. Until I conducted my own film analysis of Wilson’s troubled 2012 season, I wasn’t terribly optimistic of his chances of succeeding with the Oakland Raiders. However, I am convinced that the Raiders got the best quarterback in this draft while successfully maneuvering their way into more draft picks.
Coming soon: a film analysis of Tyler Wilson’s entire 2012 season!