Well, it’s the fun part of the year again. The Jets are wrapping up a dismal season (as per) and have clinched the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. While the draft order is not finalized just yet, there’s no time like the present, and as such, here is my inaugural scouting report of the season.
Round 1/Pick 2: Zach Wilson, QB BYU
Wilson will serve as the much-needed replacement for struggling QB Sam Darnold. Darnold has regressed into a shell of what he once was, and in his most recent outing (against Cleveland) he proved to be nothing more than a game manager. It’s no secret: Adam Gase has pushed Sam Darnold to the point where he will no longer take deep shots – in fact, according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Darnold only completed two of eleven passes that were deeper than 10 yards against the Browns. The two that were completed? Blown coverage that led to touchdowns each time.
So it’s really not the playcall that’s the issue. It’s the player.
Wilson is a polar opposite of Sam Darnold. He’s willing to take the deep shot. He has the strength to do it, too – he flicks the ball forty-plus yards with ease. He’s got enough velocity and mental tools to survive against the league’s top rushers. If the pocket collapses, it’s no problem. Wilson has the ability to extend plays easily. His key trait is that he continually keeps his eyes downfield, even while scrambling – as such, he can make Mahomes-esque throws.
He’s a good leader with a competitive spirit, and you’ll find him interacting with teammates on the sideline. The report that Wilson had character concerns regarding his wealth and entitlement was quickly shot down by his teammates. He isn’t afraid of the two-minute drill – he thrives under pressure, and it is my belief that he possesses the ‘clutch bone’.
Wilson has had had surgery on his throwing hand and shoulder. While I wouldn’t reach to the point of calling him injury-prone, his delivery is unorthodox. It’s almost as if he’s making a full circle to throw the ball. If I threw the ball like that, I almost guarantee I would have a rotator cuff injury in my near future. But I’m made of glass, and I’m not Zach Wilson. But it’s something to look out for.
Wilson tends to look for big plays. He likes to take risks rather than checking it down– this could bite him in the NFL, as going up against Stephon Gilmore twice a year is a bit tougher than playing UCF’s secondary. Of course, the talent Wilson is playing against also proves a factor, but Josh Allen played at Wyoming. Joe Flacco played at Delaware. Ben Roethlisberger went to Miami (OH). Derek Carr went to Fresno St. And Brett Favre went to the University of Southern Mississippi.
As for my pro comparison? And I’ve been using this joke for over a week, it’s still funny to me: It’s polygamous. Get it? Because he’s a Mormon?
I see Johnny Manziel a lot. His mobility reminds me a lot of Manziel’s year at Texas A&M. I see Aaron Rodgers’ play style, a loose, twitchy, explosive scheme in which the opponent can blink and be down 40+ points. I see Baker Mayfield’s confidence in Wilson. He’s got a fiery spirit akin to the plant-a-flag days in Oklahoma. And maybe, just maybe, a little bit of the Mormon Mahomes.
Should the Jets move on from Sam Darnold? Yes. Nothing is set in stone until after a new coach is brought in, and everything from this point until then is all speculation. But if and when they do, Wilson’s the answer.