Prospect Profile: QB Zach Wilson
Jake Pittman - 3/17/2021
Prospect Profile: QB Zach Wilson
Zach Wilson is a 6’3" 210-pound QB from Brigham Young University. Zach Wilson put on an absolute show last season for the BYU Cougars. He was unbelievably efficient. He threw for 48 TDs and only had 3 INTs on the season and was a Heisman candidate. Wilson wasn’t viewed on the same level as other prospects like quarterbacks Justin Fields and Trey Lance until last season’s display, but now he has even passed these guys up in the minds of a lot of scouts and analysts. Some scouts have mentioned concerns about him being a potential one-year wonder, but someone is going to take the chance on his abilities in the top ten picks of the first round.
Zach Wilson’s confidence, charisma and energy can be seen just from the way he conducts himself on the field. He shows the traits of a leader and seems to be a player that can easily command an offense and guide a team. As a player, he is electric. He put up game after game of incredible numbers, highlight reel plays and showed that his high motor never stops. Wilson has a very solid football IQ and understands where the ball needs to be and can even throw his receivers open. He has great touch on his deep ball and can throw a dart into a tight window when he needs to. His combination of stature in the pocket, accuracy at all levels of the field and arm strength project him to be a solid starting quarterback in this league. Guys with his natural abilities are incredibly hard to find, and the ones that do are in high demand. Wilson also is very athletic. He can make guys miss with his feet, and he understands leverage and ways to gain extra yards without taking brutal hits. His ability to avoid these big hits without giving up on plays shows a lot about his intelligence and competitiveness.
While Wilson shows so many of the traits that NFL Scouts look for when selecting their franchise QB, he isn’t the perfect prospect. The main concerns about him have nothing to do with what he showed on the field, but they are from things beyond his control. Scouts are mostly concerned that Wilson only played one year of football at the level of a first-round talent and he did it against a lower tier of competition. These concerns certainly aren’t ridiculous. It is difficult for a team to decide to build around a player to be their franchise QB when they have seen such little from him. That being said, players like Josh Allen also had a limited amount of time as a starter and played against lesser opponents. It’s the undeniable traits that Josh Allen showed that propelled him to be a first-round pick, and I think that Wilson can follow a similar path.
While Wilson does have a solid frame for an NFL QB he could definitely stand to put on a few more pounds of muscle. He has the ability to throw from outside the pocket and evade defenders, but with some more muscle packed on, he would have a better chance of breaking tackles from pass-rushers. Wilson also has some concerns about his off the field character, but everything that has been mentioned by scouts and analysts is potentially just rumors, so I will evaluate him just off of what I have seen on the field. From this evaluation, I would rank him as the #2 QB in this year’s draft class behind only Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence.
My player comparison for Zach Wilson is Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz. While Wentz is a much bigger player than Wilson, they have a very similar style of play. They both have shown to have the ability to make throws all over the field. They can make plays with their feet as well. Wentz and Wilson both can make throws from outside the pocket and from awkward arm angles. They also both came from smaller schools and had concerns about being one season wonders and playing against lower levels of competition. I think that Wilson will also be taken in the same spot in the draft as Wentz, which was the #2 overall pick. All of these similarities are what reminded me so much of Wentz when watching Wilson. I also think that when it comes to personality and raw play-making ability Wilson has a lot of QB Johnny Manziel in his game. This can either be seen as a good thing or a bad thing, but when Manziel was at his peak, no one made more game changing plays than Johnny Football. I do see Wilson’s career following a similar path to Wentz, but what happened to Manziel can be the downside to what Wilson’s prospective career could be.
Most Likely Landing Spots:
New York Jets:
This is the spot where I believe Zach Wilson ends up. The Jets have been struggling for a while now, and I think the offense is going to want to make a big change. There isn’t a bigger change than replacing your starting QB with a young new face. Wilson can provide this team with a more dynamic, energetic and electric player as the face of the franchise. I think Wilson projects to have a much higher ceiling than current QB Sam Darnold, but he also has a lower floor. The Jets front office may think that he is worth the risk at the #2 overall pick, and if they do he will more than likely be given the keys to car on his first day in New York. If Wilson ends up with the Jets, I think he will be no more than a streaming matchup in very plus matchups. If he does acclimate to the NFL game very quickly, he could end up as a waiver wire diamond for fantasy football players.
The Panthers are another franchise who is in the market for a franchise QB. They do sit substantially farther back in the draft than the Jets with the #8 overall pick, but I think if Wilson falls to them they would jump right on the opportunity. Surrounded by players like DJ Moore, Robby Anderson and Christian McCaffery, whoever ends up being there starting QB should have a lot of opportunities to put up solid numbers. If Wilson ends up in Carolina, I think he would have a good opportunity to be a solid fantasy contributor. The fact that he would have Christian McCaffery as a check down option and his ability to make plays with his legs would put him in contention to be a fantasy darling taken at the end of drafts.
Washington Football Team:
While I think the two teams listed above are certainly the favorites for landing Wilson, there are a number of teams that may look to trade up in the draft to land a QB like Wilson. The Washington Football Team is one of these teams. Washington has struggled trying to find their franchise QB in recent years and Wilson’s energy and play-making ability may something that their front office believes can take them to the next level. If Wilson were to land in Washington, I think that he would have an excellent shot at starting from day one, but from a fantasy perspective I don’t think he would have a ton of production his rookie year aside from streaming possibilities when he has outstanding matchups.
Zach Wilson has a lot of traits that NFL Scouts and GMs are looking for when they are trying to select their franchise QB. Even though he only played one season of NFL level QB play, I think that teams will recognize these traits and won’t be able to pass up on his potential. I predict that he will be selected in the top 10 of the draft. If I had to make an exact projection, I believe he will be taken with the #2 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he will be the future at the QB position for the New York Jets.
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