Amidst a day of chaos in the NFL, the Jets may have found their clarity at the quarterback position.
Representatives from 31 out of 32 NFL teams packed into BYU’s indoor practice facility in Provo, Utah, eager to watch Zach Wilson’s Pro Day get underway. For many executives, it was their first time seeing the potential No. 2 overall pick in person.
He didn’t disappoint.
Wilson threw about 60 passes over the course of a half hour, exhausting every possible route and angle in what will be his lone chance to work out in front of teams due to the cancellation of this year’s NFL Combine.
At first, the Pro Day was rather pedestrian. Wilson went through the short and intermediate routes, virtually mistake-free, building toward the trademark deep balls. He completed those at a 62.5% rate this year, good for highest in the nation.
When he unleashed them, executives in attendance couldn’t help but clap and cheer.
Towards the end of his workout, Wilson faked a handoff, rolled out to his left, flipped his hips and uncorked a missile down the middle of the field. 50 yards later, the ball nestled into his receiver's outstretched arm, perfectly in stride.
It was just a practice throw, but it was hard to ignore the eerie resemblance to the superstar plays outside the pocket off which Aaron Rodgers has made a living.
Wilson is still miles away from Rodgers, but he has said publicly that he models his game after the Green Bay quarterback. If the Jets draft him at No. 2—which appears more likely than ever after today’s shake-up atop the draft board—they’re hoping to run an offense that gets Wilson out of the pocket and throwing on the move, much like the one Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has instituted in Green Bay.
His brother, Mike, the Jets’ new offensive coordinator, has the chance to find his version of that quarterback who can make plays outside the tackle box.
Wilson knows that’s where his main strength lies. Nearly half of his throws on Friday’s Pro Day came on the run.
“There was more movement from a quarterback workout than I think we’ve ever seen,” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said of Wilson. “It was fun to watch.”
Of course, Pro Days aren’t everything. Hurling deep balls in a t-shirt and shorts without a pass rush doesn’t seamlessly translate into stardom in the NFL. But what Joe Douglas, Robert Saleh, Mike LaFleur and all the other executives in attendance were looking for on Friday morning was a DNA match for the quarterback they saw lead his team to 11 wins this past season. Wilson provided them with one.
That’s just one step for the Jets. Another came at the outset of the workout, when Wilson measured in at 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, with 9.5 inch hands, checking the size boxes that many NFL teams value.
Next, and perhaps most importantly, comes the medical evaluation. Wilson didn’t participate in running and jumping drills due to a mild hamstring strain. That doesn’t qualify as a question mark. What might is the surgery he had on his right shoulder in January 2019, and the procedure he had on his thumb in October that same year.
Neither have shown any signs of lingering this far into the future, but it’s always a necessary box for teams to check.
Finally, the Jets will want to meet with Wilson. Douglas was seen chatting with him after the Pro Day, and the two have spoken over Zoom over the course of the past few months, but the Jets will likely want to bring him in for a more formal meeting since they won’t have that chance at the combine.
“Great staff, love those guys,” said Wilson of the conversations he’s had with the Jets thus far. “Joe Douglas is a great guy and it was good to see him out here and they’ve got a good thing going. My Zoom interaction with them has been just like any other team, trying to go through and pick your brain, see what you’re about, the way you process things, all that kind of stuff.”
All signs point to the Jets liking what they’ve seen and heard from Wilson. The 49ers moving up from No. 12 to No. 3 in the upcoming NFL Draft—rather than No. 12 to No. 2—provides ample evidence of the Jets wanting to stay put.
If they do, a quarterback is almost certainly in the cards, and they can send that card into the commissioner a tad early.
San Francisco might already be on the clock.
- Grading the Jets' Free Agency Signings on Defense
- NFL Insider Reveals Why He Doesn't Think the Jets Will Pass Up On Zach Wilson
- Corey Davis Is Certain He Can Be the Jets' No. 1 Wide Receiver