2021 NFL Draft Report: QB Zac Wilson
2021 Draft Profile:
QB Zach Wilson, BYU
Zach Wilson seemingly has it all on the field. The junior signal caller is coming off an outstanding season in which he threw 33 TDs and just 3 INTs, along with completing 73.5% of his passes and rushing for 10 scores. Before the 2020 breakout Wilson had a very strong true freshman campaign (12 TD/3 INT) followed by a rocky sophomore year disrupted by injuries. Once healthy he was effortlessly able to sling the ball around and took several positive steps to protect the ball. His overall athleticism is impressive, with the ability to make defenses pay with his arm and legs. He seems to be able to make every throw in the playbook, even when being pressured and on the move. He didn’t face elite competition at BYU regularly but showed up whenever that occurred, including back to back overtime wins against Tennessee and USC as a sophomore. He also performed extremely well in all 3 of the bowl games he lead the Cougars to. On paper he has all the qualities to be the #2 pick in the draft after Trevor Lawrence.
The big question here is are we looking at the next Patrick Mahomes or Johnny Manziel? The reality of that question is neither. It’s impossible for Wilson to fall into a situation as pristine as Kansas City or as dysfunctional as Cleveland, yet Wilson shows traits both on and off the field to draw comparisons to these two polarizing, polar opposite first round QBs. The talent to make and extend plays is there. The swagger and competitive spirit is there. But there’s also some smoke out there about his personality (questions about his leadership, how he was as a teammate, spoiled rich kid, injury history) that will have to be sorted out by scouts and GMs alike. I believe there won’t be a consensus favorite among team’s rankings of Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, leading to many unknowns before the draft.
The ultimate factor that comes into play here is where he lands. Situation and overall fit is critical for all players, yet none is as important as the quarterback position. The most likely landing spots for a QB starting at #2 are the Jets, Falcons (I think Matt Ryan has some more years left in him but the mock experts disagree with me), Lions, Panthers and Broncos. The Jets and Lions have the least desirable weapons and first time head coaches, leading to the best options being elsewhere. If he lands with the Panthers or Broncos I am immediately interested in his short and long term outlook as a high ceiling option with top tier surrounding casts. The possibility of a team like the Patriots or Saints trading up always looms as well.
For fantasy purposes we always have to see where players shake out post draft before making any decisions. If a team is willing to put their future on the line behind a player it speaks volumes, and that’s what we’ll have to see here with Wilson and his potential baggage. He no doubt has the skills and should be given a chance to start, but how he responds to the challenge presented by NFL defenses is yet to be seen. Right now my dynasty rookie QB rankings in order are Lawrence, Wilson, Lance and Fields, but come April this could be flipped around quickly. These next few weeks of evaluation will be critical for NFL and fantasy squads alike, so keep doing your research and know that your favorite team is putting in that work as well.