By Dylan MacKinnon
You are going to hear the word Georgia a ton on draft night. They fielded one of the most impressive defenses in College Football history this season. And a good chunk of those players are entering the draft. We have already touched on Nakobe Dean and Jordan Davis, but there are many other names worth knowing from the Georgia defense. One of those names is Devonte Wyatt. As part of Georgia’s d-line, he did a lot this year to garner attention from scouts. But could he end up in midnight green? Let’s get to know Devonte Wyatt.
A Big Part of a Great Defense
Georgia was one of the best defenses we have seen in college in a long time. There is a good reason they won the National Championship. They allowed only 13 TDS on offense all year. That is across 15 games. In the National Championship Game, they held the high-powered Alabama offense just one TD. That is why so many Georgia players are projected to go high in this draft. And Devonte Wyatt played a big part in making that defense so great.
The SEC is a place where defenders, and especially pass rushers, have to earn it. You are often going up against NFL quality O Linemen. That didn’t seem to bother Wyatt much who had lofty 22 QB Pressures.
Wyatt is big and fairly fast. Yes, he is 6 foot 3 and 304lbs. But he can also move a bit. He ran the fastest time among DTs at the NFL Combine. His 4.77 time put him just ahead of teammate Jordan Davis, who ran a 4.78. Granted Davis has nearly 40lbs on him. Wyatt moves well for a big man. He has good bend and fast hands. You’d expect someone his size to rely mostly on power. But he often uses his lateral quickness to beat his blocker. He is like a finesse pass rusher, in the body of a power rusher. Wyatt and Davis received the two best Athleticism Scores out of the Combine.
Athleticism scores for the 2022 defensive tackle class are now official.@GeorgiaFootball's Jordan Davis earned an "elite" 98 athleticism score, followed by his college teammate Devonte Wyatt (87) and @CycloneFB's Eyioma Uwazurike (84).#NextGenScores pic.twitter.com/yunUnWgKdU— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 6, 2022
Bruce Feldman put Devonte Wyatt on his annual Freak List. Wyatt was 5th on the list, and this is what Feldman said about him.
“The Dawgs are loaded with talent, but this is their biggest Freak. The 6-3, 307-pound lineman was a disruptive force in the middle of the Georgia defense. He had 25 tackles and 14 quarterback pressures in 2020. His most impressive testing number is the 4.87 40 he clocked this offseason. He also vertical jumped 31 inches and broad jumped 9-3. The former high school shot putter is also very strong, benching 385 pounds and squatting 585.”
Wyatt’s athleticism and finesse, gives him a ton of versatility along the line. He has the strength and size to play inside. But also the bend and shiftiness to rush off the edge. Much like Milton Williams he would be able to move all across the line depending on what the team needs him to do any particular snap. He is more of a DT than a DE, but he could be effective as an occasional edge rusher.
He is also a hustler. Wyatt is not the type of player to take snaps off. He tends to play through to the whistle.
Guy You Want to Have Around
Being the type of team mate you want to share a locker room is a under rated part of draft preparation. Fans will mostly look at skill and how they will perform. But we don’t have to share a locker room with them. The good thing about Wyatt though is he seems to check both boxes. Yes he has talent to get excited about. But he also seems to be the type of guy you want to have around.
This is what Georgia Defensive Coordinator Dan Lanning had this to say about the impact Wyatt makes in the locker room.
“Fun-loving, doesn’t care if he gets the attention. Works his ass off in practice. I mean this guy runs to the ball relentlessly in practice and it carries over to game day. Some people consider practice a burden or stress. But he’s wearing a smile out there every day in practice. It’s not just the games for him. He enjoys being around the brotherhood, the other people on the team. I think that really sticks out.”-Dan Lanning to The Athletic
It is easy to look at Wyatt, see his affable personality and think this has always been his path. But things almost did not go so well for Wyatt. Early in high school he had a group of friends who seemed to not be the best of influences. They showed up to his school one day, and pulled him out of to skip classes. Luckily for Wyatt however, he had a mentor who cared enough about him to step in. Brian Montgomery, the head coach at Towers High School followed Wyatt. According to him, he told Wyatt “You’re gonna choose me, or you’re going to choose the streets.” Wyatt chose to follow the coach back.
That turned out to be a very good decision, evident in how he is now about to be a first round pick in the NFL Draft. But that was not the last time Montgomery played a part in helping Wyatt find his path. At one point Devonte Wyatt was at a track meet. He was competing in the shot put. But he noticed the 100 meter dash was about to start. Despite being 240lbs, not wearing the proper shoes for a race, and having no experience running competitively, Wyatt decided to enter the race, allegedly saying “I can beat those guys.”
And even though he started in the 2 point stance, while every other runner in the race started in the normal racing stance, Wyatt won. Montgomery had filmed the race. He sent the video to a contact he had at Georgia, who passed it along to Kirby Smart. Who apparently decided right then and there, “I’ve got to have him.” And he did get him. Wyatt wound up at Georgia, and 4 years later, Wyatt and his team mates were celebrating a National Championship.
Everyone who speaks to Wyatt gushes about him. There is a good reason Montgomery got so involved in helping Wyatt. Just like there is a reason his teammates and coaches gush about him at Georgia. Even media members adored him after interviewing him.
Most engaging prospect interview at the Combine thus far?— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 4, 2022
Adding to the DT1 resume.
Thing Wyatt Has to Work On
One concern, that goes for several Georgia players, but is attached to Devonte Wyatt the most, is if the individual pieces will be as great as the whole. Was being lined up next to Jordan Davis, who ate up double and even triple teams, making Wyatt look better than he is? Having a freak athlete who is as big, strong, and fast as Davis certainly makes life easier for the rest of the D Line. It is worth saying however that Jordan Davis often came off the field on pass downs. So Wyatt did not get as much help from Davis as on would think from the outside.
Also of concern is that this last season was Wyatt’s only great year. He was a solid player, still worthy of being drafted before this. But the final year after returning to Georgia is when he really made his mark. To Wyatt’s credit, he recognized this. According to Montgomery, Wyatt called him, and had this to say.
“Coach, I feel like instead of taking that chance of coming out and possibly being a late draft choice, I need to go back. Number one, I want to help Georgia win a national championship. I think I left something on the field and I want to go back and get it. I don’t want to leave anything on the field collegiately before going to the NFL.”- Devonte Wyatt according to his High School Coach Brian Montgomery- from The Athletic
There are parts of Wyatt’s actual game that could use work as well. He struggled when double teamed while at Georgia. Improving his play strength would go a long way to helping this issue. It seems he struggles to get any leverage when double teamed. He also needs to be quicker off the snap. He moves well on the field, but at times his reaction speed is slow. This unfortunately allows some offensive lineman a head start, making Wyatt have to work harder than he should have to.
Another concern, that he can do nothing about, is his length. He is physically big, but his arms are not the ideal length. It may seem a small thing, and mostly it is minor, but it can cause issues. This inches, or fractions of an inch, can be the difference of who gets their hands on who first when battling an offensive lineman. There have been plenty of cases where players with similar arm length concerns have great success. But it is a minor disadvantage he has to deal with.
What Draft Experts Say
“Highly active defensive tackle with decent strength. Wyatt is made for movement and disruptions. He helped himself in 2021 with better tape both against the run and as a pass rusher. His lateral quickness is useful in beating zone blocks and in sliding across the front in a game-based pass rush. Wyatt has adequate strength but struggles to withstand a second blocker. The traits are average, but the effort is consistent and Wyatt should fit nicely as a rotational, gap-seeking three-technique with disruptive flashes.”
“Wyatt is a thick/square defensive tackle with excellent quickness. He flashes some big-time ability as a pass rusher, getting off the ball with nice burst and leverage. Wyatt has collected pressures/sacks with quick arm-overs, nifty spins and power. He is really dynamic when he changes directions, crossing the face of his opponent. His stats don’t jump off the page, but that was more the result of all the talent around him on Georgia’s defense. Against the run, he keeps a low pad level and controls the point of attack. He has excellent range. Wyatt has tremendous upside and could emerge as the top interior lineman in this class.”
Wyatt is solid prospect. His mixture of size, speed, and technique should make him a fairly safe pick. The question is will he be an exciting pick. Of the 3 Bulldogs from the Defensive Line projected to go in the first round, he is probably the third best. That’s not really an insult, because you are comparing him to Travon Walker and Jordan Davis. It is just the truth. Davis can step in and immediately be an elite run stuffer. The same goes for Travon Walker. Can that be said for Wyatt? Wyatt is good at a lot of things. But I cant say for sure there is anything he is elite at like Davis.
With all that said, Wyatt is still a good player. If he ends up in Midnight Green it should end up being a solid pick.