The NFL Honors for the 2022 season are a little over 48 hours away. This year, the New York Jets have themselves in contention for not just one but two awards thanks to special play from their top two draft picks.
The Jets’ 10th overall selection in the 2022 NFL draft, Garrett Wilson, is up for the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Wilson surely did more than enough in his first year to earn the award. The competition for him here comes from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, and Seattle Seahawks running back, Kenneth Walker. Both of whom are more than deserving of being in the running.
When push comes to shove for this award, though, Wilson should be the winner. Let’s take a look at the long list of reasons why.
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Why New York Jets WR Garrett Wilson should be the OROY:
For starters, look no further than the duration of production. From Weeks 1 through 18, Wilson was the only one to produce the entirety of the season. Purdy obviously did not become the 49ers’ starter until December. Walker had 29 rushing yards in the first month of the season and did not record over 30 yards in a game until Week 5. Wilson played in all 17 games for the Jets, and what’s as impressive as anything? He never hit the “rookie wall.”
In 17 games, Wilson wrapped up his rookie year with the Jets accumulating 884 snaps. He was targeted 147 times, completely establishing himself as the lead force of the Jets’ passing game. Wilson posted a stat line of 83 catches, 1,103 receiving yards (13.3 yards per catch), and four touchdowns, with a longest reception of 60 yards.
On a per-game average, Wilson was getting 8.6 targets, 4.9 catches, and 64.9 receiving yards. Quite impressive for a first-year player on a 25th-ranked offense.
League-wide, Wilson concluded his first year, finishing 20th in receptions and 15th in receiving yards. He also finished 13th in the NFL in first-down receptions, with 56. Wilson began to cement himself as one of the game’s premier receivers.
From a game-by-game perspective, starting with targets, Wilson saw at least 11 passes come his way in five games. From there, he had four games with at least eight catches. Wilson caught a pass in all 17 games and had only three games with less than three receptions.
Then, from a yardage standpoint, Wilson had three games in which he went over 100 yards. Wilson had another three games in which he eclipsed 90 yards receiving. In total, six weeks over 90. For reference, in the prior two years, as rookies, Justin Jefferson had seven, and Ja’Marr Chase had six with far better and much more consistent quarterback play. Wilson also recorded over 75 in another two games. So, essentially, nearly half of Wilson’s rookie year (eight games) consisted of him going over 75 receiving yards. He was held to under 20 yards in just three games.
Big splash plays were a constant week-by-week theme with Wilson in year one. He had two touchdown games twice. In nine games, Wilson had a reception go for over 20 yards (also had a long of 19 in Week 1). In terms of huge explosives, Wilson had three catches on the year go for 54 yards or more.
From an NFL standpoint, since 2015, for rookies, Wilson became one of just five first-year wide receivers to have five games of 95 or more yards. He joined some special company in Jefferson, Chase, A.J. Brown, and Amari Cooper.
What makes all of this incredible production Wilson had that much more spectacular? In more than half of the season, he played with pound for pound, some of the worst quarterback play in the league. And not only that, he had to work with four different quarterbacks. And still produced. Never, running into a rookie slump of any sort.
From a Jets’ franchise standpoint, Wilson immediately provided the team with some of the best production from a wide receiver in a long time. Wilson’s 1,103 receiving yards makes for the first time since 2015 that the Jets have had a pass-catcher go over 1,000 yards when Brandon Marshall (1,502) and Eric Decker (1,027) both did so. Not only that, but his 83 catches make for the first time since that same year that a Jets skill player has had at least 80 receptions (Marshall, 109, and Decker, 80). Wilson’s five games of 95 or more yards also only trails Marshall, who had 10 in 2015.
Furthermore, from a perspective of Jets rookie receivers, Wilson shattered many records. For starters, Wilson is now the Jets franchise leader in catches for a rookie, surpassing the 66 that Wayne Chrebet had for the Jets in 1995. From there, he is the franchise holder in receiving yards for a rookie going by the 844 that Keyshawn Johnson had in 1996. Wilson also became the Jets’ all-time leader for 95-yard games as a first-year player going past Al Toon and Wesley Walker. He is also the only Jets rookie ever to have two games with two touchdown grabs. It only took Wilson 14 games into his Jets tenure to accomplish all of this.
Even beyond all the production, which is nothing short of exceptional, the complete skill set that Wilson offers the Jets was clearly on display and just as noteworthy.
The versatility that Wilson provides the Jets offense with was on display throughout his rookie season. Whether it was in the slot, where he did a lot of work the first month and a half of the year, or on the outside, where he spent a lot of time the rest of 2022, Wilson was dominant no matter where he lined up.
Wilson’s elite route running was evident in his first year. Athletically speaking, Wilson is gifted with a ton of quickness. He can effortlessly change his direction and create separation running routes.
Wilson proved himself to be reliable with his hands at the catch point, as drops were a rare occurrence. He had only two drops in year one. His ability as a contested-catch receiver at 6-foot and 192 pounds is rare. Wilson does, however have extremely long arms (32″ length) and big hands (9 7/8″), which gives him a terrific catch radius. Beyond the physical measurables, again, coming back to his athletic ability, Wilson can not just jump but get hang time and adapt his frame to the ball in the air to haul in. He was also a threat in the red zone, where Wilson caught three of his four touchdowns.
After the catch, Wilson delivered loads of excitement. He did some of his best work with the football in his hands again, showcasing his quick change of direction ability. Wilson had 22 forced missed tackles, which was only second in the NFL behind Deebo Samuel.
Wilson solidified himself as a wide receiver who can do it all. Pre-snap, he can line up on the outside and in the slot. He has fantastic route-running ability and can beat man coverage. His hands were very trustworthy at the catch point. Wilson can reel in tough, contested grabs with his catch radius and ability to get up in the air. He made plays on all three levels of the field, both inside and outside the numbers. After the catch is where Wilson was always must-see, making every catch-and-run opportunity worthwhile.
Even beyond the physical, athletic, and technical gifts, Wilson has a clear love for the game and prime competitive nature that, with his already special talent, gives him immense potential.
All in all, whether it be the terrific production, multiplicity with his skill set proven, or never hitting a rookie wall, Wilson has more than enough of a case to be the 2022 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He executed as a top 20 receiver in football from a production standpoint in both catches and yards. Wilson ultimately did all that he could. Wilson gave Jets fans some of the greatest excitement from a wide receiver in a long time in just his first year and hopefully wins the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.