The New York Jets drafted Zach Wilson with the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Could he be a cautionary tale on who to not draft at the position? Zach Wilson had a breakout season when he was at BYU in the 2020 college football season.
Wilson’s shifty athleticism and absurd arm talent had him draw comparisons to guys like Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. He was seen pretty well into the process as unquestionably the QB2 behind Trevor Lawrence. So, when the Jets’ pick came, Joe Douglas made the selection.
In year one, Wilson wasn’t good, and in year two, it doesn’t look like much has changed. The passing offense is incredibly simplified in New York. Wilson is getting rid of the ball very quickly and many of his passes are at the line of scrimmage.
His receivers are being tasked with getting YAC to move the ball consistently through the air, and their revived rushing attack and stingy defense is helping. However, all the good that Douglas has done rebuilding the Jets roster might not matter if Wilson can’t play. It’s unknown whether he’ll get a third year in the system, as Douglas might feel compelled to get his team all the way there, if you will.
In his fourth year as GM, he has seen an impressive turnaround, but the QB is so clearly the issue, and maybe Douglas feels similarly.
Perhaps Wilson is a case study in having caution when drafting the one year breakout QBs in college. It’s by no means a perfect equation, but it does hold merit.
Starting back in 2012, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, and Robert Griffin III all produced in multiple seasons in college, as did Kirk Cousins. Derek Carr fits this equation as well. He was doing damage in multiple seasons in college. Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, and Jared Goff also had notable production in more than one college season.
Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson also follow this trend. You see, there are a ton examples of successful NFL QBs producing in more than one college season before making it in the pros. Guys like Mitchell Trubisky, Dwayne Haskins (may he RIP), Jameis Winston, and Trey Lance only had notable production for one year in college, and their careers did not work out like they had hoped, and I am not high on Trey Lance at this point.
Obviously this is not a perfect science, but I do think it is a warning for front offices when scouting quarterbacks. It does seem that those QBs who produced for more than one year in college have a better chance at making it in the NFL than those who only have one year of production on their resume.
Perhaps the Jets missed on Zach Wilson. Maybe he does put it together, but there’s no indication that he will.