Before setting the CFB world on fire in 2020, Zach Wilson showcased intriguing positives that translate during the 2019 season.
Who is Zach Wilson?
Understandably, this is the biggest question to surface during the entirety of the 2021 NFL draft process. How does a junior quarterback playing in Provo, UT become the favorite to be chosen No. 2 overall?
Naturally, in an effort to find the answer, Zach Wilson‘s 2020 season becomes the first piece of evidence. Quite frankly, the 21-year-old captain was flat-out sensational. So much so that it helped Wilson shoot up quarterback rankings and draft boards.
However, there is a popular narrative surrounding Wilson that goes something like this …
He’s an extremely talented player, but BYU played cupcake competition, his offensive line played spectacularly, a clean pocket was overwhelmingly frequent, he didn’t face any pressure, and he failed to beat Coastal Carolina.
That narrative gets heightened when the expected landing spot is the New York Jets.
Coming from Utah, how will Zach handle New York? Can he elevate those around him? Will the pressure be too much? How will he fare on the field with a rebuilding roster?
When the going gets tough, will Zach Wilson fight through adversity to lead his team?
A Look Beyond 2020
During my evaluation of the BYU quarterback, I started with his sophomore season. The more I watched and broke down the film, the more I felt there were answers, or at least indications, to all of the above questions.
Each and every time I turn on ESPN Radio while driving into work, and an analyst or caller brings up those question marks, my mind immediately goes to overtime vs. Tennessee in front of an SEC crowd of 92,475, or the touchdown run via the quarterback draw, 24-20, late in the fourth quarter vs. 24th-ranked USC.
I get it.
The stat sheet says Zach Wilson had a poor 2019 season. So, it’s easy to be dismissive or look right past it. What could we possibly learn about a quarterback who put forth a TD/INT ratio of 11:9 while missing games?
Ultimately, while there absolutely was bad tape, the 2019 film features Wilson playing in situations where things are not perfect. He faces difficult competition with a lesser supporting cast and continues to compete through the adversity.
Additionally, his talent is still evident. The arm strength, ball placement, quick release and sneaky athleticism were put on display. Zach then took that next step in 2020; he definitely improved.
Here we go. I broke down 62 Zach Wilson plays (over two hours) from his first four games in 2019: Utah, Tennessee, USC and Washington.
Just one week away from the NFL draft, there is a whole lot that can be learned about Zach Wilson from a season he was given very little attention.