Since before the draft, I have been the loudest voice in America telling anyone who would listen, not to draft quarterback (QB) Zach Wilson in the first round.
Scouting is not all that difficult. All you have to do is look at and study the pieces of his puzzle to project what is going to happen. Saturday night in the Jets’ Green and White instrasquad scrimmage at MetLife Stadium, Wilson went 11-24 for 112 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. The NY Daily News reported there were too many three-and-outs and the Wilson-led offense only managed to produce one field goal.
All anyone in the Jets building had to do was watch him on You Tube and analyze everyone of his throws leading up to the draft in order to predict his performance. All the signs were there. Every one of Wilson’s throws are on this film from last season. Half the time he looked good and half the time he looked bad – – easy math. His completion percentage (11-24) was completely predictable. All anyone had to do is watch the film like I did. The film does not lie.
Prior to the draft, I stated Wilson “will be an interception machine in the NFL.” I made that statement not just to grab attention, it was easy as pie to predict. He threw two interceptions during the scrimmage, and I heard he almost threw a third. Wilson’s accuracy was all over the place (too high and too low) with his ball placement last season at BYU. There were more times than I could count his receivers had to wait on the ball to get to them (which will get Wilson killed against NFL defensive backs) and I questioned how well he would be able to throw an NFL regulation sized football (since it is larger than the college football he threw). Most of Wilson’s deep passes last season were also 50-50 jump balls (meaning it was a coin flip if his receiver or the defensive back would make the catch) and many of the deep passes he did complete, the receiver was running wide open. Wilson will not see that “coverage” too often in the National Football League.
Next, at BYU, Wilson played against an incredibly soft schedule last season. It was so soft, it made me wonder if politics were involved in creating it to give Wilson his best chance at going high in the draft? That is strictly me speculating, but nobody can compare last year’s schedule Wilson played and BYU’s schedule this year and not notice the difference in the level of competition.
These were the teams BYU faced in 2020: Navy Midshipmen, Troy Trojans, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, UTSA Roadrunners, Houston Cougars, Texas State Bobcats, WKU Hilltoppers, Boise State Broncos, North Alabama Lions, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, San Diego State Aztecs and the UCF Knights. I have nothing against these programs, I just question the level of competition.
So what, Wilson was 247/336 for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in 2020 (cbfstats.com). It was fair to say Wilson barely played top rated defensive backs throughout those games. Many of the players on those teams will never even get a shot in the NFL.
Next, Wilson ranks ninth all time in career passing statistics at BYU. Not first, second or even third….ninth. The following quarterbacks rank higher than Wilson at his own school; Ty Detmer, Max Hall, John Beck, Jim McMahon, Robbie Bosco, John Walsh, Kevin Feterik and Steve Young. Wilson, barely cracked the top 10.
When it is all added up, it is very, very – – I mean extremely easy to see why Wilson had the night he had at the Jets’ scrimmage. It is just as easy to predict Wilson’s future struggles – – it is as easy as predicting tomorrow’s sunrise. Nobody who did the work I am talking about would have seen it any differently, if they actually did the work.
This is not rocket science.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.