Zach Wilson enjoyed a swift rise up boards during the entire process and the New York Jets just made him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. His rise since his junior season at BYU is reminiscent of Patrick Mahomes' rise in 2018. But Wilson's ascension trumped even that of Mahomes in terms of draft stock, as Mahomes ultimately made it to No. 10 overall. It's no coincidence that both Mahomes and Wilson share an elite trait: arm talent.
If you're betting on Wilson, you're betting on that same trait that helped both Mahomes and Justin Herbert find early success at the NFL level after not always dominating at the collegiate level. Wilson is nowhere close to a complete prospect or quarterback, and it's impossible to know what kind of impact playing behind an elite offensive line will have as he attempts to translate to the next level, but it's impossible to go more than a couple of series without seeing him complete NFL-level difficulty throws to all three levels of the field.
Wilson also consistently demonstrates the ability to create plays with both his legs and arm outside of structure when the pocket breaks down, which is more important in the NFL now than maybe ever before.
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We're breaking down everything you need to know about Wilson from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
2021 Fantasy Impact
It's interesting that the Jets seemingly keyed in on Wilson so quickly in the process, but it's obvious what they're betting on is Wilson's exceptional physical tools. His stock rose quite a bit with an excellent junior year during which he passed for 33 touchdowns to just three interceptions, as he had just 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his first two seasons. He doesn't have the track record of excellence some of the other QB in this draft do, but it's hard not to fall in love with a guy who draws Patrick Mahomes comparisons.
Remember, Mahomes was considered quite a risk when the Chiefs took him in 2017 with the No. 10 pick. He was a much more productive player than Wilson was, but he was viewed as a toolsy prospect who needed a lot of development. And he had the luxury of sitting out his rookie season and playing in a Chiefs offense loaded with talent and with an offensive genius coaching them. Wilson won't have access to any of those three things, at least not at first.
So, it could be a pretty rough landing for the new Jets QB. But the bet the Jets are making is that, in today's NFL, which puts more of an emphasis on mobility and playmaking ability than polished pocket passing, is an easier place for a prospect like Wilson to thrive. It's not one Fantasy players in re-draft leagues will want or have to make, but Wilson is going to be a top-10 pick in Dynasty rookie drafts, and potentially top-three in SuperFlex rookie drafts.
The more important factor for 2021 is whether he can help the Jets offense take a step forward. It won't be hard, given how bad they've been with the Sam Darnold/Adam Gase combination, but it's not guaranteed. The Jets don't have a ton of talent around him -- a receiving corps of Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, and Jamison Crowder probably isn't the worst in the league, but that might be damning with faint praise -- and Mike LaFleur is a first-time playcaller, so we don't really know what to expect, exactly. This is likely still going to be one of the least interesting offenses in the league in 2021, but if Wilson does hit the ground running, that could change quickly. -Chris Towers
In one-QB dynasty formats, Wilson comes in at No. 11 overall for me, just behind Trevor Lawrence. In Superflex and two-QB formats, he's top five on my big board. If you haven't already picked up on it, I'm pushing most or all of my poker chips to the middle of the table on Wilson. Betting on elite traits that stand out above the competitions has been an excellent way for NFL teams to identify blue chip prospects and Wilson certainly has elite arm talent. More specifically, betting on arm talent has been fruitful in three of the last four draft classes (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert). Hopefully the Jets offense can take a big enough step forward this year to allow Wilson to live up to his considerable potential.
- Rare arm talent that shows up more than ever when Wilson is tasked with throwing from an unbalanced base/platform. Wilson doesn't need to have his feet set to generate throwing power and accuracy.
- Pinpoint ball placement to all three levels of the field, earning elite 2020 grades (per PFF) as both an intermediate and deep thrower.
- Doesn't put the football in harm's way often (just 1.2% of all of Wilson's plays deemed "turnover worthy" per PFF).
- A truly effortless thrower with a compact throwing motion that doesn't feature any wasted movement -- similar to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
- Creative at avoiding pressure in the pocket, avoiding sacks, and turning in positive plays -- similar to former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
- Underrated athleticism and rushing ability both as a scrambler and on designed runs (642 career rushing yards, 15 TDs).
- Small sample size. Wilson broke out during the 2020 season at BYU but didn't make much of an imprint during his previous two seasons.
- Has dealt with injuries in the past. Shoulder and hand injuries limited him during the 2019 season.
- Wilson played behind an elite offensive line, specifically relative to its competition. Wilson finished with a 96.5 PFF grade from a clean pocket under no pressure and a 74.1 PFF grade when pressured.
- Was not pressed to come off his first read too often at BYU, and often times when he was, he opted to bail from the pocket and use his legs to create -- the latter can be a blessing and a curse.
- Wilson never faced a slew of highly-ranked opponents or top defenses while playing at BYU
|2020 v top 25||0||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|2019 v top 25||2||62.7||485||1||2||29||0|
Advanced stats to know
- Highest-graded QB vs. zone coverage (95.9) in 2020, per Pro Football Focus
- Second-highest accurate pass percentage (59.0%) in 2020 on throws past the first-down marker, per PFF
- Second-highest graded QB (92.3) in two-minute drills in 2020, per PFF
- Fourth-best adjusted completion percentage, per PFF
- Third-best turnover-worthy play rate (1.2%), per PFF
The more you watch Wilson, the more you see a few different former NFL quarterbacks show up in his play. There's no former quarterback I see more of in Wilson than Tony Romo. But I also see bits and pieces of Baker Mayfield and Brett Favre. Wilson's lightning-quick and compact release is reminiscent of Rodgers.