New York Jets NFL Draft
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

BYU’s Zach Wilson is flying up draft boards. Should the New York Jets snag him with the second-overall pick?

Kyle Newman

New York Jets fans are looking for the team’s next quarterback after the win over the Los Angeles Rams. The Jets were in line to take Trevor Lawrence, a generational prospect, but now things have changed. If the Jaguars lose out and hold onto the No. 1 overall pick, the Jets will be faced with a major decision — Justin Fields or Zach Wilson?

Fields is a fantastic prospect and he deserves plenty of consideration from the Jets, but Wilson’s upside is tough to pass up. Let’s take a deeper dive into Wilson and try to figure out which quarterback is the right pick for Gang Green.

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Strengths

Athletic

He’s not going to wow anyone with his athleticism, but it makes him a threat on the ground and his escapability in the pocket is phenomenal.

Elite Arm Strength

I’ve seen this kid throw 40 yards in the air off one foot on the run. I’ve also seen him throw the ball 65 yards in the air with ease. Both of these were in-game action. Not only can he make any throw, but he’s going to make a lot of throws on people could dream about.

Flexibility

Wilson is flexible in his motion. He’s not married to one kind of throwing style. He’ll throw overhand, sidearm, pitch it underhand. He can do whatever that specific set of circumstances calls for and he can do it all accurately.

Deep Ball Accuracy

Wilson throws an incredibly pretty deep ball. The strength and touch he gets on these passes are obscene. It helps that his receivers adjust so well to the balls he throws, but so will his NFL receivers.

Accuracy outside the numbers

Wilson is accurate and throws with zip outside the numbers. He’ll often beat cornerbacks in tight coverage on curls and comebacks while perfectly placing the ball.

Quick Release

Wilson gets the ball out quickly. Even when he doesn’t have his first read he’s quick to find his second read and get the ball out of there.

Doesn’t Fear Pressure

One thing that immediately comes to light watching Wilson is he doesn’t fear a pass rush. He often welcomes it as he thinks it’ll give him the opportunity for a bigger play. He’s going to need that fearlessness to take on an NFL pass rush, especially with the New York Jets offensive line.

He has IT at the end of games

Some QBs just have that rare ability to bring out their absolute best when the game is on the line. Each and every time the clock starts to wind down you know this kind of QB is going to be trouble. Wilson has that.

The two best examples are the end of the Houston game and the last drive of the Coastal Carolina game. He’s never going to give up on winning a game and he has the ability to make the impossible possible when the time comes.

Weaknesses

Concentration
Zach Wilson makes a ton of simple concentration makes, something New York Jets fans have become way too accustomed to. He drops snaps that he’s called for, fails to hand the ball off to the running back resulting in either a fumble or a broken play multiple times, He’s even sacked himself. He’s good for at least one of these mistakes per game.
Short Pass Accuracy
Wilson’s ball placement and accuracy on short passes is absurdly bad. If the pass is three yards or less in the air then Wilson struggles with it. The mistake he made most often was throwing behind his receiver, but he also often overthrew them.
This got so bad that as the season BYU just wrote screens out of their playbook. The few screens they did run were often fake option plays to get Wilson more space to throw the ball. This matter a ton, even the most innovative offense throws the ball three yards or less about 65% time
Accuracy over the middle
Every pass from Wilson over the middle seems to be low. It’s possible he’s trying to avoid his receiver getting hit, but it’s costing him yards.
Decision Making
Wilson sees the field extremely well. He rarely takes a shot he doesn’t think he can win. That’s the issue though, he thinks he can win on just about any pass. He’ll often throw deep passes into double or even triple coverage.
His arm and deep ball accuracy are so good that it often doesn’t matter, but it will in the NFL. Confidence is amazing for a QB, but if they get overconfident it can ruin them.
YAC
This goes hand in hand with Wilson’s accuracy concerns. He rarely leads his receivers into space for YAC opportunities. Because he’s so often throwing behind o short passes or low over the middle of the field he costs his team chunks of yardage after the catch.
Most of this is all about timing on routes like slants and swing passes. Still, this is a major concern because even the best QBs in the NFL are getting about 45% or more of their yards from YAC.
Hero Ball
This isn’t just about his decision making, though that’s a big part of it. Zach Wilson refuses to throw the ball away. He seems content taking a sack rather than throwing the ball away.
One play that really highlighted his her ball tendencies came against Coastal Carolina. They sent the house at him and one was a free rusher. Wilson had three choices; He could throw the ball away, he could eat the sack, or he could try and make something happen against the odds. The correct call here is throwing the ball away 10 times out of 10. Wilson decided to drop back into his own endzone and juke out the pass rusher. Lucky for him it worked and turned into a 25-yard run.
That’s not going to fly in the NFL with his athleticism. He’s not Lamar Jackson, though he tries to play like him at times. If someone doesn’t reel him in at the next level he’s going to an exciting to watch disaster.
Injuries
Zach Wilson has a ton of issues with injuries during his first two years. First a shoulder issue than a thumb issue. He was healthy this year, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Conclusion

Zach Wilson is a gamble on a single year. He had been a fine quarterback battling through injuries during his first two years at BYU, but nothing special. Maybe he would have gotten a look as a day three pick. Now that he’s finally healthy he put together a monster junior season.

Still, for every eye-popping tool, there’s a matching red flag. On top of it all, there are injury questions. So what is there to be made about Wilson?

Well if he can stay healthy it looks like he’ll be a starting quarterback on day one, but he’ll need time to develop. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Wilson match Justin Herbert’s rookie season. It also wouldn’t be a shock to see Wilson’s accuracy concerns on short passes and over the middle haunt him early in his NFL career.

Like Fields, Wilson would need help from the New York Jets offensive scheme in his rookie year. He fits best in a vertical offense that will allow him to throw the ball down the field with regularity.

Wilson would fail in a west coast style offense. His ability to hit passes over the middle and short are just not there yet. He needs to be put in a system similar to the one Andy Reid runs in Kansas City, Kliff Kingsbury runs in Arizona, or Matt LaFleur runs in Green Bay. A modern NFL style spread offense.

What should the New York Jets do?

This isn’t the answer that fans want to hear, but it’s impossible to say what the New York Jets should do right now. Justin Fields still has to play in the playoffs against Lawrence’s Clemson. A strong performance in that game could erase all the poor performances he’s had this season. A bad performance and Zach Wilson may be locked in at No. 2.

What will really decide things though is who they hire as their head coach and offensive coordinator. If the Jets go with an old-school coach like Jim Caldwell or Marvin Lewis then the better choice may be Wilson. If they go with a new school coach like Greg Roman or Brian Daboll the better choice will likely be Fields.

These two quarterbacks are fits for very different offensive schemes. Who the New York Jets hire as their next head coach is going to play a massive role in which quarterback they should draft.

That said, Justin Fields currently has a higher grade than Zach Wilson. His athleticism and accuracy are a rare combination that make Fields a unicorn. That’s enough to push his grade higher than Wilson as things stand.