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PFF's Austin Gayle predicts Commanders will add Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave with 11th overall pick

Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson, right, celebrates his touchdown against Purdue with teammate Chris Olave during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

There are plenty of paths that the Washington Commanders can take with the 11th overall pick, but Pro Football Focus' Austin Gayle has the team bolstering its offensive firepower.

In a recent sitdown with senior vice president of media and content Julie Donaldson, Gayle said he foresees the Commanders drafting one of the class' top receivers, which would be the first time since 2016 that they've done so.

And Gayle has a couple players in mind to complement Terry McLaurin.

"I think they're going to be locking into one of the two Ohio State receivers," Gayle said.

Gayle was referring to Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, of course, both of whom have risen up draft boards and are projected to be first-round picks. Several other analysts have agreed with Gayle's prediction as well; both Wilson and Olave have been paired with the Commanders because of the belief they would expand the team's passing attack.

Wilson, who caught 70 receptions for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2021, is Gayle's No. 1 receiver available over the likes of USC's Drake London and Alabama's Jameson Williams. He called Wilson an "uber dynamic player," which falls in line with how many feel about the All-Big Ten selection.

Wilson was able to back that up, too; he has a contested catch rate of 61.5%, and his PFF grade against man coverage is 84.0. His route-running is also considered some of the best in his class, and he's able to make plays after the catch. He had third-highest YAC above average (22.3%) among receiver prospects behind Williams and Arkansas' Treylon Burks.

"I think separators matter so much in today's NFL," Gayle said. "I think [Wilson] is a huge value add."

The stats also show that quarterbacks normally have success throwing to Wilson, which is shown by the 141.7 passer rating generated when targeting him. That, paired with his ability to leap over defensive backs to make plays, has some putting high expectations on Wilson in the NFL.

"Wilson…is one of the most dynamic players in college football and his game in many ways reminds us of Odell Beckham Jr," wrote CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson in one of his earlier mock drafts.

The fact that Gayle has Wilson ranked over Olave is not a knock against the former California prospect. Olave is an equally explosive weapon in his own right, as he ended his college career as the Buckeyes' all-time leader in career receiving touchdowns. And with his unofficial 4.26 40-yard dash time, he's able to blow past secondaries for chunk plays.

"I think with Chris Olave, he wins down the football field, wins the valuable routes and can actually work opposite of Terry McLaurin and garner some attention," Gayle said.

Olave certainly used his speed to his advantage. He was considered "open" on 61.7% of his targets, per PFF's metrics, and that kind of separation resulted in nine of his 13 touchdowns in 2021. He's not a slouch against man coverage either; he tied Wilson with the most touchdowns against man coverage (5) among Big Ten receivers.

And in terms of his reliability, his career drop rate is just 4.7%, which is the third-lowest in this year's pool of receivers.

"Olave might not have the breadth of Wilson's skill set, but his fluidity of movement and slickness of route running makes him a really high-floor player," wrote PFF’s Sam Monson. "Everything he does to get open looks effortless, and that same ease of movement makes him sneaky good after the catch."

Now that the Commanders have found their quarterback in Carson Wentz, the next step is to keep surrounding him with weapons. With the team picking near the top third of the first round, there's a high possibility that one or both of them will be available.

From Gayle's perspective, getting either one is a win for the Commanders.

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