A breakout campaign has vaulted Wilson into early first-round consideration
Arguably no player helped himself more this past fall when it comes to 2021 NFL Draft stock than BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. After flashing his tantalizing dual-threat abilities during his first two seasons with the Cougars, Wilson finally put it all together as a junior. As a result, Wilson went from being labeled an intriguing prospect to one of the top quarterbacks in this class and is expected to hear his name called early in the first round.
Here's a look at far how Wilson has come in his development and why teams are excited by what they see.
(This profile is one of 230 featured in the Athlon Sports 2021 NFL Draft Guide. With in-depth scouting reports on the top prospects, position rankings, and more, no source will have you better prepared for draft day. Click here to get your copy.)
Zach Wilson Draft Profile
Wilson was the biggest riser of 2020, enjoying a monster breakout season. He has two of the most important traits for the modern NFL: accuracy and an ability to create time and space when he needs to. He can operate on schedule just fine; he was adept in BYU’s play-action game and delivered accurate throws on time after turning his back to the action. He played in rhythm and showed exceptional touch downfield as a junior, calibrating his deep throws perfectly. But it’s when things break down that Wilson is at his best; he showed the mobility to extend plays behind the line of scrimmage and deliver strong, accurate throws from different platforms, especially when having to move left and contort his body to deliver the ball. Overall, he put up big numbers with a fairly middling group of receivers. He earned high marks as a respected leader in BYU’s program.
He doesn’t necessarily have a “one-year wonder” tag hanging on him, but BYU’s 2020 schedule was unusually soft due to a handful of Power 5 opponents coming off the slate due to the COVID pandemic. His effectiveness operating from within the pocket in the NFL is a question mark; the pocket is much more condensed at the pro level, and the subtle movements necessary to extend plays while allowing route designs to play out are absolutely necessary. His arm talent is good but not great — those tight-window throws at the intermediate and deep-intermediate levels will be dicey due to middling velocity.
There’s risk he’s a one-year wonder, but his 2020 performance was outstanding, and it’s not a stretch to see Wilson thriving in a highly schemed offense (think systems like San Francisco, Cleveland, Tennessee and Minnesota).
Final Grade: Top-10 pick
(Top photo courtesy of BYU Athletics)