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2021 NFL draft film breakdown: BYU QB Zach Wilson (vs. Western Kentucky)

Zach Wilson
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Sam Crnic takes an initial look at BYU quarterback Zach Wilson‘s impressive 2020 film against Western Kentucky.

One of the fastest risers ahead of the 2021 NFL draft, BYU quarterback Zach Wilson has drastically improved his game from 2019. With many considering him as a top-three quarterback in the 2021 draft class, Wilson has led BYU to a top-25 ranking and a 9-1 start in the process.

Before his phenomenal season comes to an end, I wanted to take a look at his 2020 tape before constructing my final scouting report and exploring what makes him so special as a QB. Today, with BYU’s 2020 All-22 film, we will take an initial glance at Wilson, focusing on his game against Western Kentucky (10/31).

Could Wilson be making a play to steal Justin Fields‘ spot as the consensus No. 2 QB prospect?

BYU vs. Western Kentucky Game Recap

In a 41-10 trouncing, BYU took control by the end of the first half with a 35-3 lead. Wilson finished 18-of-32 with three touchdowns and an interception, totaling 224 yards through the air.

For only the third time all season, Wilson ended the game with an interception—a poor decision on his part. In addition, his completion percentage (56.3%) was his worst of the season with the second-most attempted passes (season-high was 35 attempts against Houston).

Despite the lackluster numbers, Wilson was extraordinary during many parts of this game, even adding another touchdown through the run game.

With a commanding lead heading into the second half, BYU stalled on offense, being outscored 7-6 in the second half. While a lot of good resulted from this win for Wilson’s draft stock, there were a couple of concerns worth mentioning.

The Good

Arm Angles

One of the growing desired skills in the NFL is the ability to deliver throws from unique arm angles. The man best known for thriving in this area is Patrick Mahomes, but it is a very common denominator among the elite quarterbacks in the league. Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson are among the many top-tier quarterbacks who can complete passes when they are forced to release the ball in an unorthodox way.

Displaying shortstop-esque throws throughout the Western Kentucky game, Wilson makes the flick of the wrist look easy and effortless.

Having fun with it, Wilson drops his arm and sidearms while off-platform on the run-pass-option (RPO).

Equipped with one of the smoothest releases in college football, Wilson isn’t the most mechanically sound on this play, but he shows off his natural throwing ability. With the option to either hand the ball off to the running back through the B-gap or target the tight end, Wilson chooses the latter.

Wilson displays why so many scouts love his effortless arm talent. With mechanics that would typically be considered improper – as he doesn’t square his base to the target and instead just contorts his upper-body – Wilson darts the ball right into the TE’s chest with an off-platform sidearm pass, setting him up for the first down. This rushed, awkward throwing motion was necessary to get the ball out quickly enough to fit it through the rapidly-shrinking window, and Wilson pulled it off beautifully.

Off the bootleg, Wilson sidearms another ball – this time on the run – in a tight space where only his TE could catch it, a beautiful NFL-caliber throw:


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