FAYETTEVILLE — The ease with which Greenwood native Tyler Wilson speaks is matched only by the simplicity of his throwing the football. His words flow smoothly and he wastes few of them. He’s so well-natured that NFL scouts, administrators and player personnel heads glow about his interview ability.
There is little question Wilson has the head to make it to the game’s grandest stage. His mental acuity is there. Friday, at Arkansas’ Pro Day, he showed them his physical tools.
Wilson completed 77 of 84 of his attempts. The first 22 were warm-up tosses before he began his script of various throws — deep balls, outs and fades — in front of NFL representatives from nearly every team. Only one of the incompletions, a ball thrown over wide receiver Cobi Hamilton’s head during the red zone portion, wasn’t catchable.
“I thought it was a pretty good day,” Wilson said. “I’d like to go 62 of 62, but 58 or 57 or whatever it was was pretty good.”
He planned the day’s throwing regimen with quarterbacking consultant Terry Shea and Chris Weinke, the director of the IMG Football Academy. The goal was to simulate game-situation throws in as many settings as possible. It’s a similar program Shea incorporated while working with reigning NFL Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III when Griffin was preparing for the draft in 2012.
Wilson has spent a majority of his time since December in Bradenton, Fla., at IMG, working with Shea and Weinke on everything from passing drill to classroom work and media training.
Not that Wilson needs much of the latter.
He’s affable. And mum on his prospects, at least on which team might select him in next month’s draft or how early he be taken.
“You hear speculation,” Wilson said. “I think I’m in a pretty good position. We’ll see. I’m happy in the spot I’m in. Hopefully you’re picked early, but we’ll see.”
ESPN draft specialist Todd McShay places Wilson in his “Tier 5” group at No. 35 overall. The description of the tier: “These are the players teams will begin targeting as value picks early in Round 2 should they fall out of Round 1.”
Wilson looked comfortable Friday throwing to former teammates Hamilton, Dennis Johnson, Chris Gragg and Knile Davis, among others. Gragg dropped a couple of Wilson passes that were a touch behind or high, but neither were worth fussing about.
It was a different experience than the one he had at last month’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The combine, he said, consisted of more mental work. He threw 12 to 15 passes there. Friday, it was all about throwing the football.
“This is a more accurate depiction of what you can do,” Wilson said. “These are the throws we threw in college. You’re familiar with the receivers. You’re familiar with the setting. This is who you are.”
He was mostly satisfied with the day, happy with his arm strength and velocity, a pair of traits he hopes will make him stand out from a crowd of NFL-hopeful quarterbacks in which it’s tough to distinguish. He’ll travel to Tampa, Fla., next week to take part in the Jon Gruden Quarterback Camp, a ESPN series in which the former NFL head coach evaluates the select few on pocket presence, mechanics, mental toughness and just about anything else a quarterback would have scrutinized in the days and weeks leading up to the draft.
Eight other quarterbacks will also take part in the show, scheduled to begin airing April 4. But there are no Griffins. No Andrew Lucks. Wilson, and those eight others, are all vying to be one of the first quarterbacks chosen in the draft, set for April 25-27. Hopefully, Wilson said, April 25 will be his day.
“Teams try to keep things close to the vest,” Wilson said. “They’re not going to tell much. You can act like you know a whole lot, but until draft day, it’s a guessing game.”