Did you know that Antonio Gates played college basketball? How about Tony Gonzalez? I bet you'll be shocked to find out that Julius Thomas hit the hardwood at Portland State. What? You knew that already. Of course you did, because NFL announcers regurgitate those facts like they were sponsored content.
Well get ready, because you know what De'Runnya Wilson did? Yep ... he played college basketball. Admittedly he played just seven games during his freshman season at Mississippi State and averaged less than a point per game in those contests. But that tidbit leads every draft profile of Wilson you find. Including this one, I guess. Sorry 'bout that. Anyway, I'm here to see if Wilson can make the transition from erstwhile basketball player to NFL wide receiver.
» Size that scouts and coaches covet
» Can be physical at line of scrimmage
» "Boxes out" against smaller defenders
» Flashes good footwork in routes
Have I mentioned that Wilson played basketball? Because yes, he's tall with long arms. That's part of what made him such a big red zone threat for the Bulldogs, scoring 22 touchdowns in 33 career games. It also gives Wilson an incredibly wide catch radius. Also like a good baller, Wilson is adept at shielding the defender from the ball to help making contested catches a little easier.
There are plenty of times Wilson looked like a player still finding his way on the field. That's not surprising for a player who didn't seriously consider football until he got to Starkville. As such he occasionally flashes good physical play at the line of scrimmage to get through press coverage. Wilson also shows at times that he can use some nifty footwork in his route-running to get open underneath.
» Still learning the position
» Won't scare defenses with speed
» Might not grade as a WR at next level
While Wilson will occasionally show some nice traits in his route-running, he doesn't show them often enough to believe that he can be an immediate threat as anything other than a goal-line jump-ball specialist. One of the problems with Wilson's inability to consistently beat defenders with his footwork is that he isn't likely to blow past anyone with speed. After he ran a 4.85 40-yard dash at the combine, there was no shortage of amateur Twitter comedians making "De'Walkya Wilson, amirite?" jokes. That lack of speed will make it hard for Wilson to survive on the outside as a receiver and could lead to a team converting him to tight end.
Ideal fantasy fits
At this point we could probably project any prospect to the Browns since they're in the midst of yet another rebuild and could use help at nearly every position. But it would be good to add a potential red zone target for ... well, whoever the quarterback will be. Plus Cleveland already has Terrelle Pryor on the roster which means they're not above working with a project.
Similarly both Washington and the Rams are lacking any potential jump-ball threats in the red zone. It's a role that Wilson could fill while he's still learning to round out the rest of his game.
Early fantasy draft projection
With so many deficiencies in his game, it's hard to advocate drafting Wilson in any format this season. But keep an eye on him. Depending on where he lands, he could be a "That Helps No One" candidate with a touch of value in daily fantasy leagues later in the season.