Texas Tech pass rusher Tyree Wilson has the highest upside of any defender in the 2023 NFL Draft

It seems like a foregone conclusion that a run on quarterbacks will happen early in the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts all have selections within the first four picks, and all three teams are in need of a long-term answer at quarterback. The Arizona Cardinals currently hold the No. 3 selection, but teams like the Las Vegas Raiders and Atlanta Falcons — along with dark horses like the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, and Tennessee Titans — could present an offer to acquire that selection.

Regardless of when the consensus four top quarterbacks get picked, it seems likely the first non-quarterback selected this year will be an edge rusher. Alabama’s Will Anderson has a more substantial collegiate resume, but one could argue that it’s Tyree Wilson of Texas Tech who has the highest ceiling of any defender in the 2023 draft.

Tyree Wilson’s strengths

Tyree Wilson is what would happen if you built an edge rusher in a lab.

Looking at him, he fits the mold of what you want in a pass rusher at the next level. He’s tall, muscular, and has incredibly long limbs. That sheer size helps him out at the point of attack, where he showcases good grip strength and the ability to convert speed to power. For a bigger edge rusher, Wilson also accelerates quite well off the line of scrimmage. His first step is impressive, and he’s capable of chasing down backside runs in pursuit.

He started off raw, but his hand usage has improved quite a bit at the collegiate level. Over time, Wilson showed tremendous development as a pass rusher. He can win with pure speed and power, but he has a nice long-arm, a good swim move, effective two-hand shucks, and a solid rip. It helps that he also plays with a consistently high motor, and he’s a versatile defender who can kick inside in specific subpackages.

Tyree Wilson’s weaknesses

As gifted as Wilson is from a physical perspective, he’s still a work in progress.

Being a taller edge rusher, it can be difficult for Wilson to get his weight underneath him. This leads to poor knee bend, which affects his anchor against the run and how well he turns the corner. The angles he takes in pursuit tend to be a bit rounded, and a lack of top-notch ankle flexion adds onto those flexibility issues. Wilson can also occasionally struggle with making accurate reads against the run, which leads to him occasionally losing contain when he sets the edge.

Tyree Wilson highlights

Tyree Wilson’s 2023 NFL Combine results

Wilson did not perform athletic testing at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he did measure in at 6-foot-6 and 271 pounds with 35 5/8-inch arms, the latter measurement placing him in the 96th percentile among edge rushers. He also put up 23 bench press reps.

Some of his notable Mockdraftable athletic profile comparisons include Chandler Jones and Aldon Smith.

What others are saying about Tyree Wilson

Lance Zierlein of had the following to say about Wilson:

Long-limbed defender who figures to turn into a full-blown nightmare for opponents if he continues to grow into both his frame and his game. Wilson’s combination of traits and athleticism should yield flashes of dominant play in both phases as he continues to get bigger and stronger. His length and lateral quickness are ingredients for chaos as a back-side run game disruptor. He’s capable of ranging and tackling from distance if the run flows wide. On the flip side, he’s not very instinctive as a run defender and his play demeanor could stand to be a little thornier when attacking blocks. Wilson has the physical tools to create pocket push as a power rusher early on, but the hand usage and rush plan will need tutoring for him to become a well-rounded, two-way rusher. He might not set the world on fire in Year 1, but the talent and vaulted ceiling will be easy to see soon enough.

Wilson’s at his best as a stand-up edge but has the length and size to project as scheme-versatile. He’s a work in progress but has tremendous physical talents and showed encouraging growth as a technician from 2021 to 2022. He should be a top-10 pick and off of upside alone, has a decent argument to be the first defender selected this year.

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