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NFL Draft

Be Patient And Let Zach Wilson Show Steady Progress

  • The Draft Network
  • October 7, 2021
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New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson was one of the most anticipated quarterbacks of the 2021 NFL Draft class set to take the field this season. Like several other players making the leap from the college to the pro level, there have been some growing pains for Wilson. But at the same time, there have been several bright spots for the first-year signal-caller.

In his latest performance, a 27-24 home win over the Tennessee Titans, Wilson completed 21-of-34 passes for 297 yards with two touchdowns and one interception en route to the team’s first win of the season.

Wilson made some notable strides during the showing—it looks like slow upward momentum at times, but it’s definitely there. For perspective’s sake, it’s also important to note that rookie quarterbacks like Wilson are just that—players making one of the toughest transitions of their lives to the next level of a sport. It’s too early to make snap judgments on Wilson or any other rookie, considering that we’re quite literally only four games in. 

Despite the fact that we may live in a world where several demand instant gratification, the whole concept of instant gratification doesn’t work with quarterbacks going from college to the NFL. Good things take time, and Wilson has shown the foundation.

Wilson’s arm talent was on full display throughout the game against the Titans, as was his ability to do work outside of the pocket—both of which were aspects of his game he was credited for ahead of the draft and still show up in his NFL tape.

This play in the third quarter was a prime example of that. Wilson rolls out of the pocket and, while on the run, manages to get one perfectly to wide receiver Keenan Cole inside the red zone to set his team up in scoring position while trailing.

Wilson has been solid on the deep ball compared to some of those he’s in the company of in this class, as he’s the second-highest graded rookie behind Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (97.6) on 20-plus yard throws, according to Pro Football Focus. Wilson graded out at 91.6, far ahead of New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (62.4) and Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (61.8).

This deep shot to wideout Corey Davis spoke volumes in itself about Wilson’s abilities, and is probably the best throw of his professional career so far. That’s a tough play for anyone to make regardless of age.

It’s the going off-script stuff that contributes a lot to the “it” factor Wilson has, and it’s something Jets head coach Robert Saleh has picked up on.

“For defensive football, quarterbacks who improvise and go off-schedule, there’s no call for it,” Saleh told reporters after the game. You call a play, you beat it in sequence or in timing, and then the quarterback does something that disrupts the entire flow. A quarterback who can improvise and go off-schedule, there is no play call for it… “It’s, ‘Hold onto your seats and hope something good happens.’ For him, that’s what he has shown and done.”

Of course, the type of stuff Wilson did on that play isn’t going to work every time on every single defense and he’s got some fixing and learning to do as he continues to progress. But that’s a difficult ability to teach and one Wilson has on top of other promising traits.

Wilson and the Jets will look to stay on the right side of the win column as they face the Atlanta Falcons in London on Sunday morning.

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