How 2018 NFL Draft Prospect Isaiah Wynn Projects As A Selection By The Detroit Lions In The 2018 NFL Draft.
Isaiah Wynn is one of the more intriguing prospects in the offensive line group. He played left tackle while at Georgia and had great success there. However, being 6’3″, 313 lbs, he is a bit undersized to be a starting caliber tackle in the NFL. Therefore, most scouts have looked at Wynn as an interior lineman at the NFL level, where I think he has the chance to be one of the best at his position in a couple years. If Wynn is able to do so, it will likely be due to his incredibly ability in pass protection.
Wynn’s Pass Protection Prowess
Going through Wynn’s most recent games (Rose Bowl vs Oklahoma, National Championship vs Alabama), it is clear pass blocking is Wynn’s best area. His footwork is phenomenal for a college player. Maintains a wide base throughout his drops and constantly keeps his feet moving, keeping him balanced incredibly consistently. Going through three games in 2018 for the Georgia lineman, I saw almost no issues with him in pass protection. His upper end footwork, balance, athleticism, and length make him very hard to get around in pass protection. Combine that with upper end NFL-caliber strength and it starts becoming clear why it was so hard for college players to generate pressure against Wynn.
Wynn put on a blocking clinic in the National Championship against Alabama this past year. One of my knocks on him in the running game is his mental processing. However in pass protection, he does a great job picking up blitzes and stunts with pre-snap recognition. In the above clip, you see him pick up a nickle cornerback blitz really well. This is a play that often works well for Alabama. If Wynn does diagnose what the defense is trying to do, it has been very hard for those defenders to win the matchup. Once he reads the play, his great footwork and athletic ability take over, against power and speed rusher alike. When Wynn puts it all together, he can be absolutely devastating to opposing defenses.
What Does Wynn Have Left To Improve?
When looking for areas for Wynn that are concerning and need improvement are on the run blocking side of things. This is not to say that he is poor in this area. Quite the opposite actually. He can be just as dominant in the run blocking game as he is as a pass blocker. His biggest issue is doing it consistently.
As a tackle, he was used in space less than as a guard, where it will be a bigger responsibility for him when he reaches the NFL. His ability to engage in space and sustain his run blocks are quite hot and cold, to this point. He will not always take good angles when pulling or when running downhill to the second level. Bad positioning kept him from engaging defenders often and even allowed linebackers to quickly shed when he did. He will also miss linebackers in traffic at times, allowing them to blow the run up more than you would like to see.
However, this play in a good indication of what you can see from Wynn when he puts it all together in the running game. He shows some better patience on this play. Gives himself enough time to get out in front of the play before squaring up to take the defender head on. When engaging, he establishes inside leverage and pops the defensive player back with forward tilt on impact. His footwork throughout this pull is great and helps him maintain leverage throughout the block before putting him the defender on his back. His ability to constantly drive his feet helps him in the ground game too, creating big holes for his backs when he does engage.
The Case For Wynn To Be The Lions First Round Selection
It is no secret the Lions have a big hole to fill on their interior line. As a near top-10 lock, is it very likely Quenton Nelson will not be the guy to fill that spot. After Nelson, Wynn is the best interior lineman prospect available and could very well end up a Detroit Lions following day one of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Lions identity is definitely still the passing game. In a pass-centric league like the NFL, Wynn’s ability to pass block will be highly coveted and rightly so. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was the 2nd most sacked quarterback in 2017, while being one of the best at evading sacks as well.
Some of this is certain to turn around since the departure of the Lions very unpopular former offensive line coach, Ron Prince. But keeping Stafford upright will be crucial for Detroit to keep competitive in the NFL. Wynn will bring an instant upgrade to the left guard position, but also to the center position as it will move Graham Glasgow to his more natural position there. Detroit’s worst starting caliber lineman last season was arguably center Travis Swanson, which is likely why he was moved on from with the regime. Selecting Wynn upgrades essentially two positions, while adding depth at the tackle position.