That Little Pitt Guy is a Beast
This fanpost is about Tennessee slot receiver, Jalin Hyatt, but before we get to him, I have to mention that I think the undersized Pitt defensive tackle, Calijah Kancey, is a great football player. One of the games I watched on Hyatt was Tennessee against Pitt. Kancey is a total game wrecker. Yes, I understand that he's very small, it doesn't intuitively seem like he should be able to hold up against really big NFL linemen, it might be difficult for a DC to decide where and how to use him, but I'm telling you right now, Kancey is crazy talented and he's going to be good in the NFL.
Maybe eventually I'll do a full profile on Kancey, but he's one of those prospects, it is immediately obvious the guy can play. His size isn't as big an issue as you'd think, because he creates incredible leverage and force by firing out of his stance and driving low into the blocker. He knocks guys backwards. Don't confuse being small with lacking power.
Kancey seems to be very underrated at the moment. ESPN has him 64th overall. PFF at 39th. PFN has him 92nd and Drafttek at 93rd. Feels too low. Yes, DT isn't the biggest roster need for the Rams. Still, Kancey is a major problem for opposing offensive lines. He's a really good player.
Reservations at the Hyatt or about Hyatt?
Okay, now on to the feature presentation, Mr. Hyatt. Prior to the 2022 season, Hyatt was essentially an underachiever in college, a physically gifted player and hyped recruit who wasn't producing up to expectations. He only had about 200 receiving yards in 2021. To say that 2022 was a breakout season for him would be an understatement. He won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. He was a consensus first team All American. He's probably best know for a huge game against Alabama that the Vols won in dramatic fashion in the final seconds.
NFLDraftBuzz ranks Hyatt as the 10th overall prospect in the 2023 draft. Not the 10th best receiver, he's the 10th best player at any position. NFLDB compares him to Jameson Williams, a 1st round pick by the Lions last year. Other experts compare him to Will Fuller, who was a 1st round pick in 2016. PFN offered DeSean Jackson as a possible comp.
Hyatt isn't an overly complicated prospect to describe. I feel the scouting reports by the draft experts have Hyatt pegged very well, both in terms of positives and the negatives. I don't have much to add beyond what they already say. I also don't think that it is necessary to study his game tape in too much detail. He plays in a very gimmicky system and you aren't going to see much that is particularly revealing. Hyatt is a raw player, not a finished product. He is a traits based prospect, a developmental guy.
If you are a Hyatt optimist like NFLDB, you might classify him with the likes of Jameson Williams (12th overall pick in 2022) or DeVonta Smith (10th overall in 2021, Eagles, Alabama.) If you are a Hyatt skeptic, you could point to players such as D'Wayne Eskridge (Late 2nd rd 2021, Seahawks) and Anthony Schwartz (late 3rd round 2021, Cleveland Browns, Auburn.) Eskridge has hardly had any production in the NFL, and has been hampered by a couple of injuries his first 2 years. Probably even more disappointing than Tutu Atwell so far. Schwartz has been a big dud for Cleveland, hardly playing in 2022, making only 4 catches all year. Both of those WRs are super fast, but that pure speed hasn't translated into NFL performance. Is Hyatt a legitimate top 10 prospect who the Rams could steal in the 2nd round? Or will he become just another very fast guy who flops in the pros?
Name: Jalin Hyatt, turns 22 years old in September. True Junior.
School: Tennessee. Studied recreation and sport management.
Size: Per TDN 6 foot tall, 185 pounds. SI has him 6' 1/4'' tall, 175 pounds. Ran 4.31 sec in the 40 when he was in high school.
4 star recruit. Only 153 pounds in HS. Mom was a sprinter, dad played college basketball. Says he was 164 pounds in 2021 (team listed him at 175 pounds), but with eating and strength training added about 20 pounds of weight.
Was expected to have huge 2021 season, but was a disappointment. Had injuries and mental health struggles in 2021. In middle of 2021, the HC said that Hyatt had matured in his approach and had developed better practice habits. Hyatt says that he got complacent in 2021, wasn't working hard, lost confidence and didn't know the offense well. He credits Velus Jones Jr. (3rd round pick 2022, Chicago Bears) with giving him guidance and helping him change his attitude and approach. In interviews, Hyatt seems focused, mature and has become a grinder, with a positive outlook. Before the season started, he confidently said that he felt he was the best slot WR in the country. The HC said Hyatt had an unbelievable offseason in strength and conditioning and had transformed his body.
One reason Hooker had such good passing stats in 2022 (beyond just the scheme) was he had both Hyatt and Cedric Tillman at WR. They also had some other dude who looked pretty good, but I don't know his name, I'd have to look at their roster. Tillman is the bigger WR (6'3'' tall) and a better route runner than Hyatt, but he got hurt and missed several games. One reason Hyatt had so many yards is in games that Tillman was out, Hyatt went off and had some monster games. If Tillman had played the entire year, maybe Hyatt's receiving total wouldn't have been quite as good. Draft boards aren't in agreement as to which WR is better, sometimes Tillman is ahead of Hyatt, other times Hyatt is ahead of Tillman.
Twisted his ankle in 2022 vs Georgia.
2022 (12 games): 67-1,267-15
ESPN 45th overall (2nd rd)
CBSSports 56th overall (2nd rd)
Drafttek 37th overall (early 2nd rd)
Draftcountdown 57th (2nd rd)
PFF 66th overall (early 3rd rd)
PFN 52nd (2nd rd)
NFLDB 2nd WR, 10th overall (1st rd)
NFLDB has Hyatt ranked ahead of Jordan Addison. Elite speed. Impossible to stop. Long arms allow him to play bigger than his size. Impressive catch radius. Enough strength to beat jam. Natural hands catcher, reliable, good focus. Precise route runner. Excellent blocker. Only 1 elite season. Limited route tree. Most of snaps from slot. Needs to improve feel for sitting down vs zone coverage. Jameson Williams comp.
TDN gave him a 2nd round grade. Explosive athlete. Creates leverage. Soft, reliable hands. Tracks ball in air. Twitchy and elusive after catch. Played in a spread offense. Slender build. A slot WR in college. Only one year of production. A dynamic number 2 WR in the NFL. Will Fuller comp.
Sports Illustrated says he's an elite vertical threat. Lean slot WR. Limited route tree. Underdeveloped release package. Has high 4.2 or low 4.3 second speed. Instant burst off LOS, lethal acceleration. Lacks strength as blocker. Could add more weight to frame. Tracks ball well. Sometimes struggles to sink hips, tight hipped. Limited yards after contact, lacks contact balance and strength. Rounded routes, not crisp. Struggles to fight through jams, struggles to separate from aggressive CBs. Struggles in hand fights. Upright and high in stance. Not elusive in small spaces. Poor feel for holes in zone, doesn't work back towards QB. Some drops and body catches. No special teams experience. 3rd round grade.
Exudes confidence on field with assertive play demeanor. When ball is in his hands he attacks. Doesn't play scared. Plays like he thinks he's a star and if there's a big play that needs to be made he's going to be the one to do it, an alpha mentality.
Destroys the coverage with deep speed. Even if they think have enough cushion, he still has the ability to get over the top and run by them.
We talk about 40 yard dash times, but I'd bet that Hyatt would be very fast over 60 yards. When I say he has deep speed, I mean deeeep speed. You need Mahomes in order to throw the ball deep enough to fully use his speed. Stafford's arm might break from throwing the ball to him so far and so often in practice. There's no point in pairing Hyatt with a weak armed QB, you need a QB with a rocket cannon and if you have one, the combination of the 2 together could be incredible.
Burns CBs to a crisp with basic nod and go routes. Flashes ability to leave CBs in the dust with double moves. Got the CB to open his hips to the outside, then crossed his face and slipped to the inside, beating the CB. Made CB spin around 360 degrees on slant route.
Was a big reason his team won the Alabama game. Had critical 78 yard TD catch in 4th quarter going up the seam, then had clutch TD with 3 and a half minutes left in the 4th qtr on a slant route.
Tracks ball in the air and adjusts. Shows good hand eye coordination catching the ball. Flashed soft hands by bringing ball in with one hand. Can extend hands away from body and snatch ball out of air if thrown high.
Willing blocker. Long arms help him when blocking. Not enough play strength and bulk for blocking duties, he'll can even get shoved backwards at times, but his effort and technique aren't bad.
Could have had even more yards and TDs, but Hooker the QB missed him with errant throws and late throws. One of those plays caused his ankle injury. The pass should have resulted in a TD, but Hooker threw him out of bounds into the path of the line judge.
Lined up both on left and right of the formation, both to the field and to the boundary.
Able to high point the ball. Bailed out Hooker by being able to extend his arms and make catches on high throws.
Shows promising ability to change the tempo of his footwork on his release off of the LOS to confuse the CB. Had nice stutter step fake on out route.
Bouncy, springy legs. A unique build, not quite as big and explosive, but somewhat similar to Chris Chambers of the Dolphins who was a 2nd round pick in 2001. Chambers was only 5'11 5/8'' tall, but he had 34 inch arms and a 45 inch vertical jump. He ran 4.33 sec in the 40. The speed, long arms and jumping ability of Chambers made it seem like he was maybe 6'3'' tall, not a sub 6 foot WR. Chamber was a very good receiver, but he played mostly on run oriented teams that focused on giving the ball to RBs like Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown and had QBs such as Jay Fiedler, Gus Frerotte and AJ Feeley.
Despite his huge 2022 season, could only be scratching the surface of his full potential. Developmental upside, not a player who is maxed out. Early entrant who is a year younger than the average prospect, so if you gave him a redshirt type season and hardly played him as a rookie, he still would be a young player in 2024.
Played in gimmicky, college spread offense (see Hendon Hooker profile). To call him a "slot" WR is almost misleading, because the splits were so wide with the outside WR up against the sideline, there's an enormous amount of room between the OT and the other WR, so when Hyatt was in the slot, there's acres of wide open space in which to operate. Hyatt typically was either in the slot or he was stacked behind the other WR on his side. When Hyatt was the WR in front with the other WR behind, Hyatt typically would be blocking or running interference. So, there were almost no plays where Hyatt had to fight through physical jams by press coverage at the LOS. He had clean releases, helping him get up to speed and into the route.
Stats inflated by a spread offense run at faster tempo. Vols repeated the same plays over and over, but college defenders still got confused and made mistakes. The scheme was a perfect match for his strengths and to cover up his weaknesses, because he often was used on straight line routes. He either ran verticals up the seam or the sideline, or he broke those off and ran a basic comeback. Sometimes it was a smoke screen. There were essentially zero plays where he had to run complicated horizontally breaking routes. Moreover, there was so much space, if the angle of his break on a slant wasn't precise, it wasn't as big a problem, because there was plenty of room. He could make the break rounded instead of sharp and it could still work.
Most of his catches were "system" catches, created by the scheme, not by his ability to create his own separation with advanced route running. The main area where he added value beyond the scheme was his pure, elite deep speed, just running by DBs and getting past them. Rarely was he required to read the coverage and make route adjustments. On one play, he got behind the slot CB, but instead of running to the corner of the end zone he breaks off the route and runs a comeback as the QB lofts the ball towards the back corner of the EZ, probably should have been a TD, but WR not on same page.
Not a QB's best friend, because the timing and the angle of his routes are not precise.
Details in his release moves are lacking. Has too many unnecessary steps, arm pumps, and other movements in his fakes, both at the LOS and at the top of the route. His body is upright. Hyatt is so fast, I don't feel that he needs to fake so much. There are more subtle and quicker ways to get the CB leaning or hesitating, then just put your foot in the ground and burst by him to gain leverage.
Is there such a thing as an 11 step slant route? Especially one where you come out of the break too slow to get to the ball and secure the catch? Just wondering, because I don't think the route is supposed to be run like that.
Tight hips. Has to gear down to make breaks. Rounds off breaks. Even when running a basic out route, instead of flipping his hips in one fluid motion, his turn is segmented, resulting in him turning to face the sideline in the first portion, then making a 2nd turn in order to face back towards the QB. One reason I don't like this is in the NFL if the QB is under pressure and has to throw the ball quickly, the WR is going to be late to react and see the pass coming and to get his hands up, ready to catch. One reason this didn't happen much in 2022 is Hooker is not an anticipatory thrower, he'd wait until after the WR came out of the break before throwing the pass and since the CB often wasn't tight on the WR there was enough time to do this without risk.
His lack of agility in small spaces showed up even in a very basic manner. Multiple times, the Vols had Hyatt come in motion across the formation where he goes in front of the QB, then he stops and backpedals, turns back the other direction and runs behind the QB. For a smaller, slot WR type, this should be a very easy thing, but Hyatt doesn't execute this body movement fluidly, he's a bit stiff.
Inconsistent hands. Awkwardly double catch on easy pass. Bobbled catch. Very awkwardly pressed ball to his chest with one hand on deep ball.
Gets redirected by jams trying to get off the line. Needs to learn to play through contact. A CB will barely grab him and he'll look around for a flag instead of being able to run the route and get to the pass. If he's bothered by contact, he's not going to have fun in the NFL, because CBs, especially crafty vets who know how to get away with pulling and restricting the WR, will mug him all game long.
In contested catch situations where he has to jump, wasn't able to come up with passes and I couldn't tell exactly why due to a poor camera angle. Many of his catches there wasn't a CB close to him, but a good NFL receiver needs to be able to secure the ball even if jostled at the catch point and fight off the CB. I don't know if his concentration was broken or he was knocked off balance, but similar to needing to play through contact in his release and in the middle of the route, he needs to be better dealing with contact at the catch point. This is one reason Josh Reynolds drove me crazy, he had opportunities to come up with catches, sometimes in critical situations for the Rams, but despite having size and leaping ability, Reynolds was a slender player who never seemed to have a knack for timing his jump properly and coming up with tough, contested catches.
Wiry frame with thin arms and legs.
Takes extra steps getting into breaks. Body lean sometimes gives away the route prior to his break. Even if he only needs to make a small angle break, he enters the break with his helmet and hips too high, causing him to slow down and not explode out of the break.
Doesn't demonstrate an understanding of how to craft the route to create inside leverage so that the passing window is better for the QB.
Poor blocker when attached at a wing or TE position. If asked to make "Robert Woods" type blocks close to the OL, he doesn't handle his business. Late reacting after snap and getting out of his stance, the DB goes right by him for a TFL. Another play, not able to squeeze the gap, he allows the safety to go right by him and penetrate into the backfield.
Lost confidence in himself and had poor work ethic at one point in college. If he struggles early in the NFL, is he going to be mentally tough enough to persevere or could he slip back into bad habits? Will he still have a love for football if he's not a star player and a featured WR on the team? If the coach asks him to play special teams or be a better blocker, will he embrace those roles and be dedicated at improving in those areas?
Has a high ceiling, but I also feel that he has a low floor. Raw, with size and athletic limitations create bust risk if drafted early.
Draft Grade and Pro Comp
3rd round grade. Danny Gray (Late 3rd round 2022, Niners, SMU)
I like Hyatt better than Gray, I feel that Hyatt has more upside, but in terms of their pros and cons, the 2 WRs have very similar profiles coming out of college. I had Gray with only a 6th round grade, but he was the very last pick in the 3rd round, one slot after Logan Bruss. Gray ran 4.33 seconds in the 40.
Gray had a very disappointing rookie season after getting some love from the media during the preseason. He was rarely used on offense, with one catch for 10 yards. He also didn't play much on special teams. It is too early to call Gray a bust, but he certainly wasn't an instant impact player.
If Hyatt doesn't develop the rest of his game, he'll probably not become anything more than a WR4 in the NFL. You can't make a living in the pros if the only thing you can run is a deep go route. In the right system, Hyatt has the potential to be really good. A system like the Rams that uses bunch sets and runs deep over routes with level concepts where Hyatt can run across the field and catch the ball on the move so that he can gain YAC with pure speed, that suits him well.
I see Hyatt as being a better prospect than Tutu Atwell. For the Rams, he probably isn't a great roster fit, because Cooper Kupp is basically a slot WR, Atwell is a slot WR, Hyatt is a slot WR, how would they fit together? To some extent, it doesn't matter, because if you condensed splits frequently, all your WRs in a sense are slot WRs. Still, it is something to consider, because Hyatt is probably too small and underpowered to be considered a potential replacement for Allen Robinson.
Hyatt is an interesting boom or bust prospect in this year's draft. If you love speedy WRs, Hyatt should be one of the top guys to watch at the Combine. I don't like him enough to place him in the 1st round, but the way NFL teams have gone slot WR crazy in the 2nd round in recent drafts and super fast guys (e.g. Tyquan Thornton from Baylor in the 2nd last year) are getting snapped up, I have a hard time seeing Hyatt not being one of the top 50 picks in the draft. So, if the Rams want this player, my gut says they'd have to pull the trigger on him in the top half of the 2nd round. Of course, the way he's currently ranked, it is entirely possible he won't even still be on the board by the time the Rams get to pick. So, if you really like this player, would you be willing to trade up into the back of the 1st round in order to get him?