The Future: 2021 NFL Draft Prospects Zach Wilson
BYU Quarterback Zach Wilson stands at 6'3", and weighs 210lbs. In his junior year at BYU, he threw for 3692 yards with 33 touchdowns and 3 interceptions and had a completion percentage of 73.5% while throwing 3 interceptions. On the ground, he ran for 254 yards and another 10 touchdowns. He has all the tools to be a successful NFL quarterback but where ever he gets drafted to is going to need to scheme for him as he thrives in an offense that runs run-pass options (RPO's) and some designed quarterback runs. I currently have him as the 3rd ranked quarterback with not much room between him and Justin Fields at 2. Below I will discuss his accuracy, poise, decision making, arm strength, and ability to extend plays.
Accuracy- Wilson has very good/borderline elite accuracy to all levels of the field. He has shown the ability to change his arm angles to complete passes as well as Mahomes type cross body throws while on the run. When outside of the pocket he is very comfortable throwing on the run and his accuracy remains very good. His deep ball accuracy is elite. He can push the ball downfield in 1 on 1 opportunities and consistently put it where only his receiver can make a play on it. He can deliver the ball accurately to any part of the field and it is evident when he is asked to make throws outside the opposite numbers on a college field (hashes are wider at the college level). He can win with both his accuracy, anticipation, timing and arm strength.
Poise- Wilson hasn't been able to play in some of the big moments like other top quarterback prospects so his poise in those situations has not been seen but under pressure, he remains very relaxed and poised. He does have a few moments of 2-minute drills and a potential game-winning drive against Coastal Carolina where he was able to march his team down the field to get held up at the 1-yard line on a strike of a pass where he receiver was unable to beat defenders to the goal line. Under pressure, he does not get flustered. He can navigate the pocket as well as escape it to avoid pressure all while keeping his eyes downfield looking for the next open receiver.
Decision Making- Wilson's decision making is very good for what he is asked to do. Within BYU's offense, he runs many RPO's screens, play-action, and is not often asked to simply drop back in the pocket and get through 2-3 reads consistently. This is a big reason why he will need to be in the right offense to succeed in the NFL. It is undetermined how well Wilson will be at being able to simply read an NFL defense and get through his progressions consistently because he isn't asked to do it often enough at BYU. In 2020 I've noticed that he is willing to take what the defense gives him and simply check it down. BYU utilizes a lot of pre-snap motion that helps him read defenses pre-snap to help him determine what to do post-snap. He takes care of the ball and doesn't turn it over a lot. In RPO's he does a very good job of making the right decision to hand it off of make the quick pass and gain yards. As a runner, he makes very good decisions to protect himself as far as getting out of bounds or sliding when he can.
Arm Strength- Wilson has very good arm strength to push the ball down the field as well as put the zip on the ball to fit it into tight windows as well as get it to opposite sidelines. He isn't going to throw it 70-80 yards downfield like some of the elites in the NFL but he is right behind those guys. Where he impresses me is on the opposite side of the field throws where he can make some jaw-dropping throws into tight windows in between multiple defenders. On the run, his arm strength is still very good being able to push it downfield and across his body.
Extend Plays- This is arguably Wilson's best attribute. Both within the pocket and outside the pocket he can extend the play and make plays with both his arm and legs. With his arm, he can roll out both to his right and his left and consistently deliver catchable balls to his receivers. When rolling out to the left he does a very good job of flipping his hips and finding open receivers. To the right, he is very comfortable and makes ridiculous throws that could get him in some trouble at the next level, but with his arm strength and accuracy, he should continue to thrive outside the pocket. As a runner, he is always a threat as he has the speed and acceleration to outrun defenders to make plays with his legs. There will be times where he tries to do too much which can lead to sacks but he tends to play more so on the safe side and protect the ball. He has similarities to Kyler Murray in his ability outside of the pocket, but he is not as shifty as Murray and isn't going to make many NFL defenders miss in the open field.
Wilson fits the modern-day quarterback who can make plays with both his legs and arm from both within and outside of the pocket. I project Wilson to be taken within the first 10 picks of the draft to a team that has an aging quarterback or a team that thinks they are a quarterback away from contending.