Packers Deep Dive -- First Round Draft Pick Devonte Wyatt

After drafting linebacker Quay Walker with the 22nd pick, the Green Bay Packers further bolstered the middle of their defense by selecting Georgia defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt with the 28th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Packers finished the 2021 season with a strong defensive performance, where they held the Forty-Niners offense to only six points, despite the heartbreaking playoff loss. However, if there was one area that side of the ball could still improve, it is their inside run defense. Despite the near-dominant performance by Rashan Gary and company, San Francisco was still able to convert a crucial fourth down late in the fourth quarter off a Deebo Samuel run.

Green Bay certainly took their lumps stopping the run last season. While they ranked 10th in passing yards allowed and 7th in interceptions, they were only the 21st-ranked run defense. Despite the promise they showed last season--even without ZaDarius Smith or Jaire Alexander in the lineup for long stretches of the season--Joe Barry's defense was still a few pieces away from developing into a top-ten group in the NFL.

However, Brain Gutenkunst brought back De'Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas this offseason. He also signed veterans Jarran Reed and Keisean Dixon. Kenny Clark and Jaire Alexander are already elite players at their position, and Rashan Gary is a rising star. Add in veterans Adrian Amos and Preston Smith and second-year man Eric Stokes, along with Walker and Wyatt as contributing rookies, and this club looks like it has the potential to mold into something great.

While expectations will be tampered for Walker and Wyatt in their first years as pros, they both bring a lot of speed and athleticism to the Packers defense. Wyatt should find an immediate role as an interior pass rusher on the defensive line in Joe Barry's scheme.

College Production

After playing a rotational role in 2019, Wyatt emerged as a full-time starter in his final two seasons at Georgia. The Bulldogs defensive tackle recorded an impressive 68 quarterback pressures in his final three years in college. However, he only finished his four-year career at Georgia with five sacks and 12 tackles for loss. These numbers are low for a player whose strength is being a disruptive gap penetrator and interior pass rusher. However, Wyatt did lead all Georgia defensive linemen in tackles in 2021 with 39 stops.

Athletic Testing

Wyatt is a special athlete. He recorded the third fastest forty-yard dash time ever by a defensive tackle at the NFL Combine. 4.77 is a decent time for an NFL linebacker, but it is an absolutely ridiculously fast time for a defensive lineman weighing over 300 pounds. The former Georgia defensive tackle can really scoot, making him a disruptive force in the run game.

Wyatt's 1.6 10-yard split was also in the 93rd percentile and his 111-inch broad jump was in the 82nd percentile at his position.

Traits to Love and What Wyatt Brings to the Packers Defense

1. Explosive First Step -- It may be redundant to say, but Wyatt is explosive. He has a very quick first step out of his stance, and he can shoot gaps and be disruptive at the line of scrimmage. Primarily playing as a three-tech or as a 4i, Wyatt frequently won his one-on-one matchups because of his quickness and explosive athleticism. He is an excellent gap penetrator, and while he's not an ideal nose, he can win as an interior rusher. Wyatt should find immediate value on the Packers defense as a third-down pass rusher alongside Kenny Clark on the defensive line.

2. Tremendous Athleticism -- Wyatt is not only explosive, but he also moves very well in space. This is reflected in his impressive 7.45 three-cone time and his blazing speed in the open field. Wyatt can cover ground quickly, and he does a great job moving laterally along the line of scrimmage, as well as getting out in the flats to run down ball carriers. Wyatt's range is impressive for a defensive lineman of his size, but he also shows very natural change of direction, making him a rare athlete for his position.

3. Makes Second Effort Plays -- Wyatt is a first-round talent because he pairs unique athlete traits with relentless effort. His motor doesn't stop, and it may be one of the most impressive parts to his game. He doesn't give up on plays. Check the 7:40 mark in the Alabama game for a great example of how his effort can impact games. After failing to get to the quarterback and falling to his knees, he hops back up, turns around, and runs downfield to tackle Bryce Young and force a game-changing fumble. Wyatt constantly wins with his second effort. He is relentless in pressuring the quarterback and chasing down runs from the backside of plays.

4. Violent Hands -- Wyatt has a very strong punch, which can knock opposing guards on their heels and gain him an edge in leverage. He also does a great job hand fighting and keeping offensive linemen's hands off his chest. He also showcases a nice rip and swim move, which helps him penetrate the line of scrimmage and create inside pressure.

Areas of Improvement for the Next Level

1. Functional Strength -- Wyatt is without a doubt one of the top defensive lineman coming out of college. However, one area he could still improve going into the pros is his functional strength. While Wyatt wins frequently with quickness and athleticism, he can get locked up once offensive linemen get their hands on him. Granted, he makes it very difficult for them to do that. However, Wyatt will have to learn to win with more than just finesse and speed at the next level. He needs to improve his bull rush and learn to collapse the pocket if he doesn't win with his initial first step. Wyatt needs to get to the point where he can win with speed or use his power to push opposing guards back into the laps of their quarterback. However, he isn't quite there yet as he begins his pro career, which is okay. He does enough things very well to be an effective player as a rookie. However, if he wants to someday be a dominant interior rusher, he will need to develop some power to his game.

2. Holding Ground vs. Double Teams -- Building off the previous observation, Wyatt gets pushed off his spot too frequently, especially against double teams. He gives ground too much when locking horns with offensive linemen in the run game. Now, the Packers aren't drafting Wyatt to be a nose tackle who takes on double teams. They already have Jarran Reed, Kenny Clark, or TJ Slaton to fill that role. However, this doesn't mean teams won't double him at times, even though he will primarily play the three-technique position. NFL offensive linemen are also bigger and stronger, and while Wyatt will make an impact against the run using his quickness to shoot gaps, he still needs to hold the point of attack when locked in a hand fight with opposing guards.

Question Marks Going Into the NFL

1. Position Versatility? -- As mentioned previously, Wyatt primarily lined up as a three-tech or 4i defensive lineman. However, it will be interesting to see if the Packers use him in other spots along the defensive line as well. He has the athleticism and size to play the five-tech defensive end position that Dean Lowry has held down in their base front for the past few seasons. Wyatt could also line up as a nose on passing downs to create disruption over the center, or he could be a mainstay in their nickel or dime defense. He certainly has all of the traits to make him successful at any of these spots. With Wyatt and Clark as the two interior defensive linemen in nickel, the Packers could stay in this front for a good portion of their defensive snaps. It would offer them a lot of versatility and athleticism in their defensive front.

2. Gas in the Tank? -- A true strength to Wyatt's game is his nonstop motor. However, he also had the luxury at Georgia to take frequent breaks and split snaps with other talented defensive linemen. Not only did Wyatt rotate with Jordan Davis, but sophomores Jalen Carter and Zion Logue also played a significant number of snaps at defensive tackle. End Travon Walker also frequently bumped inside on passing downs to be an interior rusher. It will be interesting to see how Wyatt handles a larger workload if he develops into a starter for the Packers this season. Not only is the NFL season longer, but the longer quarters and faster tempo can also take a toll on rookie defensive linemen. Fortunately, Wyatt isn't being drafted by Green Bay to rescue the position. They already have a Pro Bowler in Kenny Clark and experienced veterans like Lowry and Reed. Slaton will also give them some looks on early downs. If Wyatt can just focus on being a third-down disruptive pass rusher then he will definitely upgrade an already very good defense.

Film Highlights: Games vs. Arkansas & Alabama

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6 points

Comments (15)

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Straya's picture

May 02, 2022 at 10:13 pm

Wyatt was a massive draft crush for me. Rodgers can throw passes to Juwann Winfree for all I care if this is the upside of not reaching for a first round reciever.

Scoring on this defense is going to be very difficult.

11 points
Minniman's picture

May 03, 2022 at 12:45 am

Not getting ahead of ourselves here, but there were a bunch of Sophomore and Junior WR’s in the 2021 CFB season that did great things - JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA is one that comes to mind (usurping both Wilson and Olave in production in the second half of the season.

Sure, there are a couple of notable FA’s in there (Amos, Alexander, Jenkins, Lazard, Tonyan), but the Packers may well be in a good position to take another top WR early - as many already may have reached this year, and no longer have the need or depth to take on a WR prospect.

1 points
LLCHESTY's picture

May 03, 2022 at 05:29 am

I think it is going to be a two year project with Lazard, Cobb and Watkins on one year deals and Amari being an uncertainty at this point.

1 points
MooPack's picture

May 02, 2022 at 10:42 pm

Very good article on RAS picks by Packers. Interesting that the Packers less than stellar drafting in the third round is backed up by their low RAS. They look to break that streak with Sean Rhyan. 8.18 graded as Tackle, but shoots to elite 9.35 when graded as a Guard.

Not coincidentally the 2019 and 2022 look to be the best drafts.

8 points
Leatherhead's picture

May 02, 2022 at 10:56 pm

He makes the team better. If you could play Reed-Slayton-Lowry on first down, and play Wyatt with Clark when we play nickel, that’s going to keep everybody fresher. I do not recall a team that was better set on the DL since the 96 team.

The Packers must have been surprised he was still available, took him, and decided to trade up for Watson. That’s the only way I can figure it. ILB, DL, and WR all in the top 34 picks..

9 points
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

May 02, 2022 at 11:33 pm

Wyatt was my draft crush for where they were picking in the 20's. I fully expected them to draft him if he was available. Still surprised Wyatt did not go at 22. He will be a major disruptor for the Packers. Have been visualizing Clark and Wyatt playing together for nearly two months now and simply jazzed it has actually come true. Just love the way he shoots gaps and how quickly he can scamper. For way too many years our defense just did not have the studs in the front 7 to excite me, or to cause fear for offenses. I totally agree with you that this DL looks to be the best since the 1996/1997 seasons. Really excited about the defense potential.

6 points
greengold's picture

May 03, 2022 at 06:39 am

That’s the way I see it, LH. Draft being fluid?

I’m first amazed they went ILB 22 with Quay Walker. Not a knock, just stunned they finally went ILB, realizing their need.

Secondly, was their plan to take Watson, thinking like many of us here, Wyatt would not last to 28??? Imagine the hours spent deciding Quay over Wyatt scenarios in their planning. They must have been incredibly close in value on their board.

How was it possible Wyatt survived BUF, DAL, BAL, NYJ, JAX??? I’m stunned by that, even more than Wyatt’s drop to us at 22. Serendipity.

Bills - RB, OG, WR, CB (took CB Elam)

Cowboys - OG, WR, EDGE, ILB (took OT/OG Smith)

Ravens - QB, TE, S, WR (took C Linderbaum)

Jets - WR, EDGE, CB, DT (took EDGE Johnson)

Jaguars - EDGE, WR, OG, ILB (took ILB Lloyd)

Imagine the pressure of that decision to take Quay Walker at the 22, over Devin Lloyd and Devonte Wyatt… then, “Oh, … HI! … Still here!”

Guessing we witnessed some serious board discipline with the Wyatt pick at 28 overall.

Then, Gutekunst likely thought, “I’m still going after him,” that whole night when his 28 target, Christian Watson, fell completely out of R1. NE, KC, CIN, MIN, TB all passed on Gutekunst’s original 28 target..?

Is that how this went down?

It’s possible, too, that they had hoped Wyatt would survive to 28, with their “Plan B,” being either of George Karlaftis or Christian Watson at 28… and then Watson unexpectedly lasted into the 34 pick.

Must be something along those lines… where the same Watson trade up might have occurred had we picked Walker 22 and Karlaftis 28…?

It would be fun to know how that worked.

1 points
BirdDogUni's picture

May 02, 2022 at 11:30 pm

DW was the consensus #1 DT before the combine and rumors started flying. I am shocked he was still available at 28. Hoping he develops into an absolute beast. I'm excited about the Defense, Offense, and STs. Hoping this team can find a way to gel early and peak at the right time this year. Also hope we get a good bye this year, that can really help a team in-season.

Wonder if MaLF will have a team building exercise this year?

2 points
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

May 02, 2022 at 11:43 pm

The defense really does not concern me as they are already have a strong base and have simply added to it. Unlike the offense they really haven't lost anyone of significance. Instead, they have added quite a bit of talent to the defense. Offensively we might have some growing pains not just with new players but with modified scheme and adjusting to life after Adam's and MVS. Getting the OL down with Bachtiari and Jenkins returning from injury and having the best 5 OL will take awhile to hammer out and functioning well together. I expect it won't be until several weeks into the season before we figure out who the best OL are together, and getting the WR's operating seamlessly within the offense.

2 points
Rarescope's picture

May 03, 2022 at 12:57 am

Let’s hope it takes a few weeks for them to figure out the best OL. That would mean they actually try different things up there when they aren’t working. I wanted to jump through my TV and start strangling Gutey when he used the “best five guys” line during one of the after draft pressers. They need a new approach, or at the very least a repositioning of their philosophy. IDK, something like “the five guys who work best together” or something like that.

2 points
PewAuKeeFan's picture

May 03, 2022 at 08:42 am

Garn! You're making too much sense! 😊

0 points
NickPerry's picture

May 03, 2022 at 04:45 am

"Also hope we get a good bye this year, that can really help a team in-season."

BD... I would imagine the bye week will be the week after the London game right? Hopefully no sooner than week 8, and no later than week 12 would be perfect IMO.

1 points
stockholder's picture

May 04, 2022 at 12:14 pm

I was never a fan of this pick. And As I posted.= I was not alone. ( Wyatt was a B-.). And I too believed; Watson should have been picked. ( which has a lot to do with the grade.) McShay at 1 point ; had Travis Jones in the first rd. And I agree, Jones will make the All Rookie Team. (THE preference was Rush.) Seems this pick had more to do with stopping the run. And Next man up.
What we got was stability. A guy who won't be pushed around. A guy we've all begged for, since Mike Daniels. If Wyatt can stay injury free. We should have a DL, for years to come. So I'm on board with this pick for 1 reason. That Gutey would have never taken a DL, until the 7th round.

-1 points
golfpacker1's picture

May 06, 2022 at 06:45 pm

I still would haved picked Travis Jones over Wyatt. Jones was great for U Conn while always getting double teamed. Wyatt had a much easier time with Georgias all star team. Jones lasted until pick 76. It would have been better to draft Watson @ 28 or trade back into early 2nd round and grab 2 more picks. The 3rd round was littered with really good players. It would have been huge to keep that other 2nd rounder. Could have filled the other hole at saftey. I wonder if we turned down the Jaguars offer to trade back into 1st round? That was a great deal for Tampa Bay getting the 1st pick in the 4th and 6th rounds. and we still would have got Watson.

0 points
golfpacker1's picture

May 06, 2022 at 06:52 pm

JT Woods ( my favorite saftey), Nick Cross and Kirby Joseph were all available in the 3rd round.

Hey I am curious why we always have to see some idiot posting some bullsh*t about making $100 per hour working at home. Can't they be banned?

0 points