The wait is finally over and the Jets believe they have their quarterback of the future (again).
Gang Green shocked the NFL world by selecting BYU QB Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday night’s NFL Draft.
Alright enough jokes.
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After Wilson dazzled at his pro day in March with throws that set the internet on fire, and when the Jets traded former first-rounder Sam Darnold to the Panthers in April, this pick was solidified.
“The pro day really helped solidify the decision,” GM Joe Douglas said. “Obviously done a lot of work on him prior to even the season ending, just watching the tape and watching his unbelievable junior year. But I think I think that is ultimately that pro day really cemented it.”
New York is where Wilson wanted to be.
“This is what I was hoping for,” Wilson said. “This is what me and my family were praying for us to be in this situation and go play for the Jets. I’m so excited that I get to go and be in New York City, I know there’s so many opportunities there and some great fans so I can’t wait to be able to represent that city.”
Wilson isn’t scared of the challenge of being the Jets’ franchise quarterback, something they’ve been chasing since legend Joe Namath.
“I got confidence in myself, but I got confidence in the ownership and all the way down to these new coaches and the players,” Wilson said. “I’ve heard from multiple sources how talented this team is, that maybe the pieces just didn’t align. I’m so excited to get in there and just try and figure out what we can do to make it better.
“This is a team game, it can go from a losing season one year to a winning season the next. You can flip it real quick so I’m excited to get in there and make this thing work.”
The Jets are getting a fantastic talent in Wilson.
Wilson, 21, has emerged as the consensus second-best quarterback in this draft class behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, who went No.1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In 2020, Wilson led BYU to a 11-1 record. He finished with 3,692 passing yards, completed a career-best 73.5% of his passes with 33 touchdowns and added 10 scores on the ground.
The 6-2, 214-pound prospect’s play style includes a lightning quick release, a strong arm and playmaking ability that creates explosive off-platform throws reminiscent of two Super Bowl MVPs: the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. Along with talent his work ethic and competitiveness are exceptional.
Wilson’s skill believes he fits in offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s offense, who will be running a west coast scheme like Kyle Shanahan’s with the 49ers.
“I think it’s so similar to BYU, tons of shifts motions, a little bit of prostyle under center, pushing the ball down the field, play action pass,” Wilson said. “I think that West Coast style offense that coach LeFleur and coach (Robert) Saleh are going to bring in is exactly, you know, if I had to write exactly the offense I’d want to play in, it would be right there. I think the coaching staff is exactly what I needed and in scheme is right there so I can’t wait to wait to start learning.”
Saleh agrees that Wilson’s ability fits extremely well into the Jets scheme.
“When you look at Zach, a lot of the principles that he played in college, you can see it,” Saleh said. “They ran a lot of our system. So, you can see him making all those throws you can see the deep bench routes to the sideline, you can see the over the middle throws, you can see the boots, the play action pass game you can see all of it.”
The Saleh and Joe Douglas era will be defined by this pick.
The Jets know they must do the opposite of everything they did with Darnold, who struggled in his three seasons after Gang Green traded up to select the ex-USC star with the third overall pick in 2018. They need to make sure Wilson has weapons to throw to, get him a strong offensive line and provide him with an efficient running game. Also, they must revamp the defense that allowed 28.6 points per game last season.
This will alleviate the pressure on Wilson while he develops through his first few years in the NFL.
This is Saleh’s first year as a head coach, but he’s been in organizations that have dealt with rookie quarterbacks. He’s been on multiple defensive-minded staffs that have dealt with developing a young quarterback.
Saleh was hired in a Defensive Quality Control role for the Seattle Seahawks when they drafted Russell Wilson in 2012 and was the linebacker coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars when they drafted Blake Bortles in 2014.
Saleh saw up close what worked in Seattle and what led to disaster in Jacksonville.
If it works, their tenure here will be a success, if not, Gang Green will be in this position again in a few years. Now it’s time to create an environment for Wilson to thrive.