From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#30 Garret Wallow/LB/Texas Christian/6’2”, 230 Lbs
-Downhill thumper in the box
-Good instincts overall and uses his eyes well to find the football
-Finds himself around the football consistently against the run
-Legitimate sideline-to-sideline range
-Good overall click-and-close speed
-Production through the roof last two years at TCU
-Comfortable playing in space coming out of the Big 12; best when everything is in front of him
-Slightly undersized for the position and has similar build to a safety
-Misses a lot of tackles due to below-average technique; slides off of tackles quite a bit on tape
-Late to react often when dropping into zone
-Does not have the length to disrupt passing lanes when dropping
-Clunky lower half and has trouble sticking in man coverage
-Can be pushed around with ease when linemen reach him at the second level
-Played in 49 career games at Texas Christian, starting 29 career games
-Closed his career with 295 tackles to rank fourth in the 20-season tenure of head coach Gary Patterson
-Finished career with 32.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles for the Horned Frogs
-Former safety in high school that transitioned to linebacker early on at TCU
-Named First Team All-Big 12 in 2019 and 2020
-Named a team captain for the Horned Frogs in 2020
-2021 Senior Bowl invitee but had to sit out due to positive COVID-19 test result
Few defensive players in the 2021 NFL Draft can claim the type of production that Texas Christian linebacker Garret Wallow can claim over the last three years as a key starter for the Texas Christian Horned Frogs.
Wallow heads into the 2021 draft with nearly 300 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. When watching TCU games live, #30 was everywhere.
The problem is, a deeper dive into his tape revealed some serious flaws for the three-year starter and team captain.
While Wallow is dominant against the run, he’s not very comfortable dropping into space or trying to stick in man coverage overall, unless everything is in front of him. As a former safety in high school that was a 3-star recruit, Wallow does not possess the skill to be a true three-down linebacker at the next level.
That said, he’s darn good against the run and uses his eyes well to find the football consistently.
Against Texas in 2019, Wallow does a great job reading the blockers in front of him, causing him to fire downhill quickly against the run.
As he’s firing downhill, he’s able to sift through the mess in front of him to find the football and record the tackle for loss.
One thing I really like about Wallow in the box is his ability to slip tackles and make plays around the line of scrimmage.
Watch how he makes himself small just before the Iowa State offensive lineman reaches him in the season-opener in 2020. As he makes himself small, Wallow showcases strong ankle flexion to slip underneath the block, maintain his balance and explode forward for the tackle.
Later in the same game, Wallow shows just how good he is against the run.
Wallow reads run right away and fires downhill to fill the lane. As he does this, Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar tries to lay a block on Wallow, but the TCU linebacker is able to bounce off the block and trip up the Cyclones’ running back for a short gain.
Film study and his ability to remember what teams are trying to do shows up on tape quite a bit.
In 2019 against Texas Tech on the road, Wallow flashed some impressive click and close abilities on a quick screen to the receiver.
As soon as Wallow recognizes the play, he fires downhill, slipping behind the pulling tight end to make the tackle for loss.
Overall, I really like Wallow’s range sideline-to-sideline. He’s certainly an athlete and should test well overall, but it’s all about making plays in front of him.
He’s able to open his hips quickly and cut off the Southern Methodist running back for the tackle for loss on the perimeter.
Here is Wallow’s lone interception, which came in 2019 against Texas. Notice that the play is happening in front of him, which is a slowly developing in-breaking route that Wallow is able to jump.
It’s a bit disheartening to know that a former safety recruit recorded just five pass breakups and one interception in 49 career games.
Overall, I really like Wallow in the box against the run and as a blitzer. His click and close abilities will put him in position to make a bunch of plays around the line of scrimmage, but he’s simply not comfortable dropping/turning and running into space in coverage.
I think with his abilities near the line of scrimmage and likely abilities as a special teams terror, he should hear his name called early on Day 3.
Projection: Early Day 3
Games Watched: Southern Methodist (2019), Iowa State (2019), Texas (2019), Texas Tech (2019), West Virginia (2019), Iowa State (2020), Oklahoma State (2020), Texas (2020), West Virginia (2020)