The NFL is now officially in its offseason with the Super Bowl having come and gone. But does the NFL really have an offseason?
Now that the Super Bowl is over, all the attention shifts to the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft, which means mock drafts become more and more popular.
Mondays are the most popular day for mock drafts to pop up, and several websites released new post-Super Bowl mocks on Monday.
Multiple mock drafts have former Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt going off the board in the first round. Hyatt was a hit-or-miss first-round projection in December mock drafts, but the South Carolina native is becoming a more and more popular first-round selection in recent mocks.
Of the several mock drafts released on Monday, here are the ones that had Hyatt going in the first round.
CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson): Jalin Hyatt No. 26 to Dallas Cowboys
Pro Football Focus (Michael Renner): Jalin Hyatt No. 26 to Dallas Cowboys
Both Wilson and Renner project Hyatt to join America’s Team in the Cowboys. The Cowboys would undoubtedly welcome a wideout of with Hyatt’s speed and potential. Dallas has struggled to find a true No. 2 wide receiver in their offense behind CeeDee Lamb since trading Amari Cooper last offseason. More so, the Cowboys’ pass-catching depth could take a big hit this offseason with TE Dallas Schultz and pass catching RB Tony Pollard hitting free agency.
Hyatt to the Cowboys would make a lot of sense, and the former Vol would likely instantly see playing time in a pass-happy offense.
In addition to Wilson and Renner’s mocks, the most recent mock drafts from CBS Sports Chris Trapasso and NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein have Hyatt going off the board in the first round, as well.
CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso): Jalin Hyatt No. 21 to Los Angeles Chargers
NFL.com (Lance Zierlein): Jalin Hyatt No. 12 to Houston Texas
*Note: Trapasso and Zierlein’s mock drafts were released on February 8 and February 7, respectively.
Trapasso’s projection of Hyatt to the Chargers would reunite Hyatt with former teammate Joshua Palmer. Hyatt and Palmer were teammates in the 2020 season, Hyatt’s freshman year, under former Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt. Palmer led Tennessee’s subpar offense in 2020 with 475 yards and four touchdowns on 33 catches. Hyatt finished third on the team in yards with 276.
Like the Cowboys, the Chargers make a lot of sense as a landing spot for Hyatt. Los Angeles lacks speed at the wide receiver position, and star wideout Keenan Allen is a cut candidate for the Bolts this offseason. A Hyatt and Mike Williams pairing would undoubtedly be a nightmare for opposing defenses to game plan against given Williams’ size and Hyatt’s speed. Throw quarterback Justin Herbert’s arm strength and raw talent into the mix, the Chargers offense would be incredibly difficult to stop in 2023 under first-year offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
Trapasso’s mock also has former Tennessee offensive lineman Darnell Wright going off the board at 13th overall to the Baltimore Ravens. Wright’s draft stock has considerably increased after his showing at the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl earlier this month.
Zierlein mocked the highest projection for Hyatt of any mock so far, slotting him at 12th overall to the Houston Texans. The Texans, who have the No. 2 overall pick, received the No. 12 pick from the Cleveland Browns in the Deshaun Watson trade. The Texas figure to select a top quarterback second overall, so if Hyatt were to go off the board at 12, he would likely be playing with a rookie quarterback.
While rookie QB and rookie WR connections typically take time to develop, the NFL saw the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie QB + WR connection flourish in year one. Former Georgia WR George Pickens instantly became Kenny Pickett’s favorite target last season for the Steelers. The rookie connection was a significant reason the Steelers were able to win seven of their last nine games to make a playoff push. Pickens finished fourth among rookie wide receivers in 2022 with 801 yards.
Regardless of destination, Hyatt’s speed gives him the chance to make an impact anywhere in year one, especially on an offense such as the Chargers or Cowboys.
The 2022 Biletnikoff Winner will look to put together a strong performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in early March, as the VFL is one of seven former Tennessee players headed to Indianapolis.
The 2023 NFL Draft will take place in Kansas City from April 27 to April 29.