Chris Simms compares the rookie-offseason hype surrounding Zach Wilson to the positive chatter around Justin Herbert heading into 2020.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers third-round pick Chris Simms has become known for his supremely unique quarterback opinions during his post-NFL career as an analyst. Some of his recent bold takes include ranking Josh Allen as the league’s No. 2 quarterback ahead of third-ranked Aaron Rodgers going into 2021 and projecting Ohio State prospect Justin Fields at the No. 32 slot in his final 2021 mock draft.
As hot as his takes may be, Simms has an underrated track record of success with quarterback evaluations. In 2018, he ranked the five first-round quarterback prospects as follows:
- Lamar Jackson
- Josh Allen
- Baker Mayfield
- Sam Darnold
- Josh Rosen
Pretty darn good.
In 2020, Simms ranked Justin Herbert as the draft’s second-best quarterback prospect behind Joe Burrow, two spots ahead of Tua Tagovailoa (with Jordan Love between them). That prediction is also looking good; Herbert set an all-time rookie record with 289.1 passing yards per game while Tagovailoa largely struggled in his debut season (throwing for under the league average of 7.2 yards per attempt in 7 of his 9 starts).
Heading into the 2021 draft, Simms made headlines with his ranking of now-Jets quarterback Zach Wilson as the top signal-caller in the class, one spot ahead of Trevor Lawrence.
Simms recently spoke about the chatter he has around the league regarding the offseason performances of Wilson, Lawrence, Fields, and Trey Lance. He discusses how the increased positivity around Wilson compared to his peers is similar to how Herbert outplayed his fellow first-rounders in the 2020 offseason.
Simms compared the early reviews on Wilson favorably to those of the other rookies.
“From what I’ve read, reading between the lines, it doesn’t sound like Justin Fields or Trey Lance are blowing anybody out of the water in either of those cities,” Simms said. “I’m just interested. Because there’s a lot more on Zach Wilson, there is real chatter. He is opening eyes daily.”
Media hype has not been the only driving force for Wilson – people close to the team are also raving about him, according to Simms.
“I’ve heard it from people who are not here outside of league circles, like ‘Oh man hey, people in the Jets are telling me Zach Wilson is just – every day it’s unreal.’ ”
Continuing to compare the talk around the first-round prospects, Simms stated, “Comments I hear out of San Francisco sometimes [are] like, ‘When Trey Lance makes a mistake, he doesn’t make it again.’ . . . I didn’t hear that one time with Zach Wilson. All I hear is awesome throw, awesome play.”
“With Justin Fields, it’s ‘I’m working on my mechanics’ . . . I didn’t hear that one time with Zach Wilson either. There’s something there to be said about that. I’m not saying I’m right or wrong. I’m just telling you that’s where my mind goes as I read into things a little bit.”
Simms harkened back to Herbert and the 2020 offseason process.
“I heard the same stuff last year. I said this with Tua and Justin Herbert. I went, ‘Man, you hear, like, people kind of raving about Herbert. Tua, you just hear, like, average stuff.’ ”
If Wilson comes anywhere close to matching the rookie-year production that Herbert produced (4,336 passing yards, 31 passing touchdowns), the Jets will have their most promising young quarterback since Joe Namath.