Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Jalin Hyatt emerged as one of the biggest breakouts of the 2022 college football season. After two quiet seasons in Knoxville, Hyatt is the reigning Fred Biletnikoff Award winner given to the best wide receiver in college football.
While Hyatt was a unanimous All-American and named the best player at his position in the FBS, NFL projections on him are murkier. He benefitted from playing in a system at Tennessee that doesn’t translate to the next level and he isn’t as developed as some other top receiver prospects.
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Below, we’ll provide you with an overview of everything you need to know about Hyatt’s path to the 2023 NFL Draft and how he might fare in his professional career.
Jalin Hyatt measurables
- Jalin Hyatt height: 6-foot
- Jalin Hyatt weight: 176 pounds
- Jalin Hyatt 40 time: 4.4 seconds
Let’s dive into our Jalin Hyatt scouting report and NFL projection.
Jalin Hyatt stats and background
Hyatt was a relatively unheralded recruit in 2020. Committing to Tennessee in July 2019, he was a four-star recruit by 247 Sports and rated as the 197th-best player in the 2020 recruiting class.
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He made a minimal impact through his first two seasons with the Volunteers. As a freshman, he finished third on the team in receiving yards (276), averaging 13.8 yards per catch. Hyatt was part of an offense that attempted just 285 pass attempts in 2020.
The following year, led by quarterback Hendon Hooker, the arrival of head coach Josh Heupel brought a new offense to Neyland Stadium. Hooker attempted 302 passes, posting a 31-3 TD-INT line with nearly 3,000 passing yards. However, Hyatt finished fourth in receiving yards (225) and became an afterthought.
|Jalin Hyatt stats||Receptions||Rec. Yards||TDs||YPC|
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Everything changed this past season. While Hyatt was relatively productive early in the season, he was the Volunteers’ second-best receiver behind Cedric Tillman. After recording 388 receiving yards in his first five contests, Hyatt’s breakout performance came on Oct. 15 against Alabama with Tillman sidelined.
Hyatt delivered one of the best single-game performances in Tennessee history. He finished with the sixth-most receiving yards (207) ever in a game by a Volunteers’ receiver and shattered the program record with five touchdowns in a 52-49 win.
It set the tone for him the rest of the way. Across his final seven games, Hyatt hauled in 40 receptions for 879 receiving yards (22.0 ypc) and 10 touchdowns. It helped him earn the Fred Biletnikoff Award and significantly elevated his draft stock.
Statistics courtesy of College Football Reference, ESPN, and Pro Football Focus
Jalin Hyatt scouting report
Hyatt is one of the fastest players in the 2023 NFL Draft. As his performance against the Alabama Crimson Tide demonstrated, there are very few players in college or the NFL who can match Hyatt’s vertical speed.
- Jalin Hyatt Relative Athletic Score: 9.47 out of 10
Tennessee’s offensive star was the best deep threat in college football last season. He led the FBS in receiving yards (677) on plays 20-plus yards downfield. with a perfect 99.9 PFF grade and eight touchdowns (T-1st in FBS). Incredibly, the Volunteers’ quarterbacks had a 147.7 NFL passer rating when throwing deep to Hyatt, the highest in the FBS among players with 45-plus deep targets.
It often didn’t matter what opponent lined up against Hyatt or what a defense attempted to contain him. He ranked 11th in the nation in deep catches (14), with a majority of his damage coming when he lined up in the slot (955 slot yards). Just as impressive, he finished with a mere 6.9 percent drop rate this past year.
Hyatt also proved to be an adept playmaker on screen passes. Receiving 20.2 percent of his targets on screens, he turned those opportunities into 116 receiving yards on 17 receptions, ranking 25th in the 2023 NFL Draft class in yards per reception (6.8) on screens.
The traits Hyatt brings to the table are obvious. He’s an electrifying vertical threat who can outrun just about any NFL defensive back if he’s asked to go downfield. If a cornerback gives him any cushion at the next level and faces to get his hands in him early, Hyatt will be 20-plus yards down the sideline and will pull down whatever the quarterback throws his way.
Hyatt also tracks the football well, both working underneath and going deep, which enhances his playmaking abilities. Because he is comfortable working underneath and on screens, there are additional ways to get the football in his hands.
The problem with Hyatt is what happens every time he doesn’t get free from contact or when he encounters press coverage. At 176 pounds, he lacks the play strength to handle getting maneuvered and grabbed by defensive backs.
As mentioned previously, Hyatt also greatly benefitted from the situation at Tennessee. The Volunteers would often spread out defenses and stack their wide receivers, allowing Hyatt to have a free release at the line of scrimmage. That won’t exist very often at the next level and his limited route tree further limits what he can do early in his NFL career.
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It ultimately leaves you with a phenomenal athlete who will need to play a specific role in his NFL career. While he can still thrive under the right circumstances, he isn’t as well-rounded as some of his peers in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
- Jalin Hyatt draft grade: 75/100
- Jalin Hyatt draft projection: Day 2
NFL projection for Jalin Hyatt
Hyatt doesn’t project to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL, not with his existing limitations and a clearly defined role. With that said, he can still be a very productive player who has an influential role in some of the league’s best offenses.
As scouts have highlighted one of the great things about having a player like Hyatt is what he can do for his teammates. Opponents can’t stack the box with their safeties playing closer to defend the run and underneath passes. If they do that, Hyatt gets single coverage where he can easily win with his speed. Because of that, opponents will always have to respect him as a vertical threat, creating opportunities for more explosive running plays and opening up the middle of the field more for receivers working the intermediate game.
We’re looking at a No. 3 receiver in his rookie season, with his box score not truly reflecting the total impact he made for his team. While it means Hyatt won’t be a viable threat to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, he will still be impactful and the time spent with NFL coaching can help him develop more to become a better wide receiver.
It’s clear why he has drawn some comparisons to Will Fuller, even if he might be slightly more limited early in the NFL. We’d feel comfortable selecting Hyatt on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, but his pedigree and athleticism could push him into the first round.