Zach Wilson knows how to make a first impression.
General manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh raved about their new franchise quarterback when speaking to reporters late Thursday night, hours after their team selected the quarterback second overall.
From their first introductions early in the recruitment process, speaking in person at his Pro Day and checking in periodically over Zoom, there's a reason why New York picked Wilson beyond his skills between the lines.
Wilson made quite the first impression with the fans and media on Thursday as well, speaking eloquently about his background, his excitement to get to work in the NFL and why he knows that he'll be a good fit under center in green and white.
Here are six takeaways from that introductory presser between Wilson and the media on Thursday night, a first look into who will be leading the Jets' offense for years to come:
All gas, no brake
Wilson is ready to get to work.
The quarterback talked about his obsession for watching film, putting in the time and effort on and off the field to improve his game.
Transitioning to the NFL is never easy, but Wilson knows his work ethic has prepared him for that challenge.
"When I made my decision to come out of college, it was because I felt like mentally, physically, I was ready for the NFL game," he said. "I felt like my maturity, my ability to pick up an offense, be able to connect with the guys around me was ready to go."
Wilson added that he's been preparing to play in the NFL since he was seven years old. No doubt that will pay off in head coach Robert Saleh's system.
Perfect fit in New York's offense
Wilson was a force to be reckoned with in BYU's offense. In his final year at school, in 2020, Wilson threw for 3,692 yards and delivered 33 touchdown passes, over 10 times the amount of interceptions (three) through 12 games.
Well, with Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur taking over in New York, Wilson will be playing in a similar offense at the next level, another reason why he believes he'll thrive with Gang Green.
"I think it's so similar to BYU," Wilson explained when asked about fitting into LaFleur's offense. "Tons of shifts, motions, a little bit of pro-style under center, pushing the ball down the field, play-action pass and I think that West Coast style offense that coach LaFleur and coach Saleh are going to bring in—if I had to write exactly the offense I'd want to play in, it would be right there."
The Jets had the worst offense in football each of the last two years, failing to put former quarterback Sam Darnold in a position to succeed. Now, they're replacing Darnold with a signal-caller that's tailor-made to play (and excel) in this new system.
That's a recipe for success, as long as they can continue to add pieces around him.
Big market? No problem
Coming to The Big Apple from BYU in Provo, Utah will certainly be a change of scenery for Wilson. That doesn't mean he's not prepared.
The quarterback acknowledged that his readiness to move to a new city and experience life away from the West Coast was something he thought about when he declared for the draft.
Asked about coming to New York, Wilson said that he and his family had been hoping and praying for this scenario. Sure, there's pressure to perform, and he'll have to get used to the media presence in a bigger market, but he's looking forward to soaking up the city life as well.
"Hopefully COVID will pass by in a little bit and we'll be able to get to the city and try out some of the good restaurants and I'm just excited to experience the great parts of New York."
Pressure is a privilege
When it comes to that pressure, joining a team that had two wins a year ago and hasn't made the postseason in over a decade, Wilson isn't worried.
In fact, he's already heard that the Jets have the players in house to succeed. That means turning this franchise around quickly is feasible.
"I've heard from multiple sources how talented this team is but maybe the pieces just didn't align, so I'm so excited to get in there and then just try and figure out what we can do to make it better," Wilson said. "You can go from a losing season one year to a winning season in the next. You can flip it real quick so I'm excited to get in there and help make this thing work."
Wilson is the sixth quarterback taken by the Jets in the first round since Joe Namath was picked first overall by the team in 1965. The likes of Darnold, Mark Sanchez and Chad Pennington didn't take this team to a championship, some performing better than others, and Wilson is eager to be the driving force in New York's journey to success.
"When a team isn't doing super well and you can go in there and actually be a key piece into what actually flips that organization around, I think that's so special and so I'm so excited," he said.
Always room for improvement
Those stats from Wilson's third year at BYU are impressive. The throws he made during his Pro Day were spectacular. But Wilson isn't stubborn about his game. He knows there's always room for improvement.
"I honestly think I can get better in every single aspect," he said. "I think I can get better in the pocket with pocket movements, the ability to throw from a phone booth, small tight spaces, accuracy can always get better, and then decision making. So along with this process of getting to the NFL, it comes a new learning curve, you're gonna learn about different defenses and you're gonna have Pro Bowlers lined up across from you and you're gonna have to try and study the ins and outs of those guys and what makes them special and then you've got to build to react and make plays off that."
Ready to lead
Finally, even if Wilson is a rookie, joining a team that's been through it all these last few years, the No. 2 pick won't hesitate to be a leader in this Jets locker room.
Asked what kind of man and teammate the Jets are getting with the second overall selection, Wilson said he's going to be there for everyone on this roster and lead by example.
"I'm a big believer in bringing the guys around you together having a strong connection with them so that's a leader I'm going to be," he said. "I'm going to be the man that they can look up to, they can call for any advice, any help that they ever need and then as a player, I'm going to make sure I'm in the facility every single day, giving it everything I have because I want to do whatever I can to make sure that this team is is on the right track and we're getting all the right things done."
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