Draft Profile: Zach Wilson
After a breakout 2020 season, Zach Wilson has rocketed up draft boards and is now the consensus #2 overall pick. Wilson accounted for 3,692 passing yards, 43 total touchdowns and just 3 interceptions, leading BYU to its highest ranking in the College Football Playoff era. Wilson wowed viewers of his Pro Day with some amazing off-balance throws, bringing his draft stock to an all time high. Comparisons to Mahomes, Favre and Rodgers have run rampant through the media. However, is this truly warranted?
Zach Wilson was a dynamic player for BYU last season. He throws with great velocity and can fit the ball into tight windows. He can extend plays and move efficiently in the pocket and the open field. His movements remind me a lot of Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray. Both are smaller, shifty quarterbacks that have good speed and ball skills.
However, Wilson did not face much competition, as BYU is an independent and does not play against many power 5 opponents. The best opponent he faced in the 2020 season was Coastal Carolina, which was BYU’s only loss of the season. The Coastal defense largely contained Wilson, holding him to a 68.1 QBR, his lowest of the season, and an interception. While the Chanticleers had a talented team, they are not producing many NFL prospects in the near future. Additionally, Wilson mostly had a clean pocket last season, due to the lack of competition and good offensive line play. Wilson will deal with drastically different levels of play around him at the next level. The offensive line play he is used to will take a drastic hit, especially if he is drafted by the Jets, who have suffered from sub-par offensive line play for years.
This is not a knock on the potential of Zach Wilson. If effectively used and protected, he can be very successful at the NFL level. However, I do not subscribe to the lofty comparisons that have little to no basis. Comparing Wilson to Patrick Mahomes is simply unfair. Creating these lofty expectations for young players sets them up for failure. Wilson’s ability to make a throw on the run is exceptional, but not unique. Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond made a nearly identical throw at his Pro Day just a few days after Wilson’s Pro Day. Mond certainly is not receiving any comparisons to Mahomes (and shouldn’t). Zach Wilson is a very good quarterback and should be selected in the first round, but he is not the clear-cut QB2 in this class as many think he is. I have Wilson as my QB4, behind Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Trey Lance. However, it appears that the Jets do not agree with me, as all indications point to Wilson hearing his name called second on April 29th.