Former NFL quarterback and current NBC analyst Chris Simms is widely known for going against the grain when it comes to NFL prospects.
However, his recent track record isn't so bad. He told everyone who would listen in 2018 that neither Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold nor Josh Rosen was the best QB in that draft class. Lamar Jackson was, and while that wasn't a popular opinion three years ago, it's played out that way at this point.
But when Simms touted BYU's Zach Wilson, not Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, as the No. 1 QB in the 2021 NFL Draft class, his take still turned heads, to the degree that ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard strongly disagreed Wednesday on "Get Up."
“Well, it’s laughable,” Howard said about Simms' evaluation. “But like you said, everyone is entitled to their opinion. You look at Trevor Lawrence. I was at Clemson’s football camp about two years ago with my sons and Trevor Lawrence walked in there with a t-shirt on and shorts. You were just amazed at how big he actually is outside of his pads. And like Mike (Tannenbaum) said, you look at Zach Wilson, he’s a slender-built guy, he’s already been hurt. Don’t forget, this guy’s going to be the face of your franchise for 10, to 12, to 14 years. Trevor Lawrence has been the face of Clemson football, if not college football, for at least two years."
Lawrence is listed at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds while Wilson measured 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, leading some to wonder if Wilson can hold up physically from the toll of hits he'll receive.
Howard thinks Wilson isn't worth the risk because the former Clemson star played against a higher level of competition than what the BYU product faced. And the Jacksonville Jaguars agree. New coach Urban Meyer has already sent Lawrence an early look at a proposed playbook.
Draft night is two weeks away, and Wilson is widely expected to be the next name called after Lawrence as the New York Jets, who traded Darnold to the Panthers earlier this month, await a new QB.
Time will tell if Simms' evaluation is true, and while he's essentially on an island, his "hot takes" have plenty of people talking.
"Zach Wilson is the top quarterback in the draft for a lot of different reasons, really,” Simms said to USA TODAY Sports. “This is a great quarterback class. These top five, six guys all have elite traits. But when it comes to just pure talent throwing the football, to me, Zach Wilson is the top thrower in this draft.
"There’s a very (Patrick) Mahomes and (Aaron) Rodgers quality to the way he throws the football. And every game you turn on, there’s eye-popping throw after eye-popping throw where you just go, ‘Whoa.’”