Rookie Rundown: QB Zach Wilson, BYU

Rookie Rundown: QB Zach Wilson, BYU

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Rookie Rundown: QB Zach Wilson, BYU

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Former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson may or may not be as good as Trevor Lawrence, but the consensus is that he’s a better draft pick than any other rookie this year. That means falling to the 1.02 pick by the New York Jets. That No. 3 spot varies greatly in projections and draft guesses but Wilson will be a Jet or the draft kicks off with a surprise.

As a true freshman, he started seven games and ended with a season-best 317 yards and four touchdowns against Western Michigan in the 2018 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl where he was named as the game MVP.

As a sophomore, he started nine games and ended up in the 2019 Hawaii Bowl where he was again the game MVP.

As a junior, he enjoyed a stellar year when he passed for 3,692 yards and 33 touchdowns and ran in ten more scores on his 70 rushes for 254 yards.  He ended as the MVP if the 2020 Boca Raton Bowl. He also beat BYU alum Steve Young’s school record with a 73.5% completion rate.

Wilson recorded 15 touchdowns as a rusher at BYU, but they were almost all short scores and he only averaged 3.0 yards per rush. He’s not a running quarterback per se but can certainly rush in touchdowns in addition to throwing them.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 210 pounds
40 time: 4.84 seconds

His star was rising after his sophomore season, but his strong junior campaign rocketed him up the draft boards. He had been hampered by a torn labrum that was repaired between his first two seasons. A right-hand injury impacted his second year and it too required surgery. But his junior season was all healthy and served up what Wilson was capable of doing.

Zach Wilson BYU stats (2018-20)

Year Games Runs Yards TD Pass Complete Yards Avg. TD Int QBR
2018 9 75 221 2 182 120 1578 13.2 12 3 157.2
2019 9 67 167 3 319 199 2382 12.0 11 9 130.8
2020 12 70 254 10 336 247 3692 14.9 33 3 196.4

Pros

  • Accurate passer
  • Big arm
  • Rarely makes an error
  • Can make any throw
  • Poised in pocket, almost fearless
  • Confident and very competitive
  • Big arm that can has touch on deep tosses
  • Throws very catchable ball
  • Smart player that excels reading defenses
  • Enough mobility to avoid rush and buy time
  • Burst as a runner helps notch short rushing scores
  • Expected to continue to improve
  • Athletic

Cons

  • Only had one big year
  • Did not face top competition
  • Could use more weight
  • Some character concerns as too confident
  • Needs work on anticipation
  • injuries in high school and in college

Fantasy outlook

There is a chance that the Jets surprise with their 1.02 pick and select Justin Fields, but odds are heavily leaning to Wilson ending up in New York where there has never been a 4,000-yard passer since the league went to 16 games in 1978. On the plus, he gets that extra 17th game this year to break the curse.

Sam Darnold never experienced the level of success expected when the Jets grabbed him in 2018 with their 1.03 pick. Or the 2009 1.05 pick they used on Mark Sanchez. The Jets history of underwhelming at the quarterback spot is lengthy and uncomfortable.

There’s a new coaching staff with HC Robert Saleh and OC Mike LaFleur, so the rebuild begins centered around Wilson. The talent of receivers remains below average, but they are expected to mine the draft for wideouts. The 2021 outlook is low given the installation of new schemes, new coaches, new players and just being Year 1 of a rebuild. His dynasty value is much higher, but even then the history of the position points to marginal fantasy position for the Jets and Wilson is just the newest young gun trying to turn the franchise around.

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