Zach Wilson

Jets Draft Zach Wilson No. 2 Overall

Trevor Lawrence was a virtual lock for the No. 1 pick, but Zach Wilson‘s odds of going to the Jets weren’t far behind. With the No. 2 overall pick, the Jets tapped the BYU passer to be their next quarterback of the future. 

Wilson didn’t earn as much fanfare as Lawrence, but he still offers tons of potential. The 6’2″ passer is fresh off of a breakout season with a 73.5% completion rate, good for No. 2 in the nation. Meanwhile, his 33 passing touchdowns placed him third, and he threw just three interceptions. Wilson’s mobility powered him to ten rushing touchdowns last year, further vaulting him up the Jets’ draft board. It also helped that he hit it off with Jets GM Joe Douglas in the interview process.

The knocks on Wilson are few and far between. Some say his decision making was questionable in 2019, a season cut short by a thumb surgery. But, last year, Wilson kept the turnovers to a minimum and consistently found the open man. Some also wonder if he’ll have durability issues as his ~210-pound frame adjusts to harder hits at the pro level.

Regardless, the Jets are supremely confident in Wilson and his upside, which is why they traded No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold to the Panthers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Have Not Received Offer For No. 2 Pick

With the Jets having traded Sam Darnold to the Panthers, their quarterback path has become fairly clear. Zach Wilson is expected to head to the Big Apple at No. 2 overall. However, the Jets are not believed to have received strong interest in their rather valuable draft choice even prior to the Darnold deal.

In addition to the Jets having received little interest in the draft’s second selection, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast they have not received an offer for the pick (video link). This proves interesting, given the haul the 49ers parted with for the Dolphins’ No. 3 overall choice.

[RELATED: 49ers expressed interest in Sam Darnold]

Ahead of free agency, the 49ers inquired about what it would take to acquire Darnold. The Jets, however, were still in the process of determining their QB route. Other teams, including the 49ers, moved on, resulting in the Jets collecting a 2021 sixth-round pick and 2022 second- and fourth-round selections for Darnold. While the Jets and 49ers having discussed Darnold, they are not believed to have held talks about the No. 2 pick. With the 49ers sending the Dolphins No. 12 and two future first-rounders for No. 3, the Jets likely did wonder why the Niners did not ask about their pick, Rapoport adds.

Part of the reason behind the Jets receiving little interest for their pick stems from the league believing they will use it on Wilson and move forward with a rookie-contract passer for the next three-plus years. They join the Jaguars in being essentially locked in on a certain quarterback with their pick.

Douglas said this week the Jets would likely have been preparing for another Darnold QB1 season had they not obtained the No. 2 overall pick, so it would have taken a monster haul for the 49ers to move up. The 49ers, who did contact the Falcons and Bengals about the Nos. 4 and 5 picks, opted to climb nine spots instead of 10. Trades involving the No. 2 pick commenced in 2012, 2016 and ’17 — for Robert Griffin III, Carson Wentz and Mitchell Trubisky, respectively, though the Bears only traded up one spot for their preferred passer — but it does not look like a major deal will transpire this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Notes: Douglas, Darnold, Wilson

Joe Douglas didn’t take the Sam Darnold trade lightly, and the Jets GM acknowledged how difficult it was telling the quarterback that he had been traded to the Panthers.

“[T]he swallow-hard moment for me was just making that call to Sam,” Douglas told SI’s Albert Breer. “You know how much work and dedication he’s put in the last three years here, how many rough situations he’s been through, and never wavered with his confidence. Still, when we had the call, I know in his heart of hearts that he feels he was the right guy to turn this franchise around. I just have so much admiration for how he carries himself.”

During the interview with Breer, Douglas revealed that the front office took their time determining how to proceed at quarterback. While the team would have normally completed their scouting much earlier in the offseason, they didn’t get a chance to see the top quarterback prospects in person until late March. Eventually, the organization decided that they’d feel comfortable taking a signal-caller with the No. 2 pick.

“I don’t know how every team approaches a quarterback [evaluation], but I’ve always thought it was a golden rule—you don’t ever take a quarterback until you stand near or next to a guy and watch him throw the football,” Douglas said. “None of the top brass were able to get out to a BYU game this year. There were no all-star games, no combine. You could see Mac Jones at the Senior Bowl. But other than that, your only opportunity to stand there and watch them throw was at a pro day.”

We explored some of the GM’s other soundbites earlier tonight, including the fact that the Jets had a competitive offer for Darnold earlier in the offseason.

Some more notes out of New York:

  • Joseph Person and Connor Hughes of The Athletic provided a detailed timeline of the Darnold trade, dating back to Jets season-ending loss to the Patriots in early January. Among the notable revelations from the article was the fact that the Panthers starting offer for the quarterback was a fourth-round pick, while the Jets were initially requesting a first-rounder (even if it was conditional). Douglas considered holding out until after the draft in pursuit of that first, but he ultimately decided to avoid the risk of the Panthers pivoting to a rookie or another veteran quarterback.
  • BYU quarterback Zach Wilson is the favorite to be selected second overall by the Jets. Wilson underwent shoulder surgery back in 2019, but NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the team continues to have no concern about the shoulder, especially after they got positive news from a recent physical. Based on advice from “trusted medical sources,” the organization has “zero issues about Wilson’s shoulder,” per RapSheet.
  • The 2020 sixth-round pick that the Panthers sent to the Jets in the Darnold trade is a compensatory selection, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). That pick comes in at No. 226 overall.
  • We learned earlier tonight that the Jets re-signed cornerback Bennett Jackson. The 2014 sixth-rounder didn’t appear in a regular season game until the 2019 season, when he appeared in six games with the Jets and Ravens. He appeared in four games this past season for New York, collecting a single tackle.

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: BYU QB Zach Wilson

Could Zach Wilson leapfrog Trevor Lawrence as the No. 1 overall pick in April? No, probably not. New Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer has taken a refreshingly candid approach to the draft process in recent weeks, telling everyone within earshot that the Clemson star will be his quarterback of the future.

“I’d have to say that’s the direction we’re going. I’ll leave that up to the owner when we make that decision official. But I’m certainly not stepping out of line that that’s certainly the direction we’re headed,” Meyer said. “Trevor checks all the boxes, you know?

Lawrence may be one of the best QB prospects — or pro talents, period — in recent draft memory. Still, Wilson offers lots of promise in his own right. He’s fresh off of a breakout season in which he completed 73.5% of his throws, good for second in the nation. Meanwhile, he placed third with 33 passing touchdowns and lobbed only three interceptions. And, for good measure, Wilson added ten rushing touchdowns in his 12 starts.

Wilson’s mobility is a big part of his appeal. In fact, some see a bit of Johnny Manziel in him — which is not necessarily the pro comparison that young QBs want. Like Manziel, Wilson has shown the ability to escape pressure. He also comes from an affluent background, and draft evaluators tend to nitpick everything about players this time of year. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the similarities are strictly limited to his highlight reel.

I’ve heard Zach Wilson is an incredible kid, but again, [he’s] a little bit new on the scene,” Schefter said (via KNBR). “Have to vet it out, check him out, make more calls, but I know people that know him pretty well, and they speak pretty highly about him.”

The other major knock on Wilson comes from his so-so decision making in 2019, a season that was cut short by thumb surgery. But, last year, Wilson kept the turnovers to a minimum and consistently found the open man. He’ll be asked to work in the pocket more frequently at the pro level, but his ability to extend the play when the pocket collapses will still serve him well in the NFL. At his pro day, the BYU product showcased that for all to see, intentionally throwing a pass across his body and nailing his target dead-on.

Some critics may also wonder about Wilson’s durability — aside from the aforementioned thumb injury, Wilson underwent thumb surgery after his frosh season. Now, he’ll be facing bigger, stronger, faster defenders with just ~210 lbs on his 6’2″ frame. Still, no prospect is perfect (not even Lawrence), and Wilson profiles as one of the very best QBs in this year’s class.

Right now, just about everyone has Wilson ticketed for the Jets at No. 2. It’s not quite as certain as Lawrence going No. 1, however. Mac Jones, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance are also in the mix, but it seems more likely that those will be the names available for the 49ers. Even if the Jets throw a curveball, we’d be surprised to see him slide much further.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Split On Quarterback Decision?

Three-plus weeks away from the draft, the early consensus points the Jets to selecting Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall. This would lead former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold out of the Big Apple. But the incumbent has supporters within the organization.

Some “high-powered” Jets personnel remain in the pro-Darnold camp, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes, with that faction preferring to see the former USC prospect be given another chance with a better roster in 2021. However, another group within the organization is behind a Wilson-centric future — one that would give the Jets at least three years to build around another rookie contract.

Wilson’s value laps Darnold’s at this point, and Vacchiano adds that some around the league wonder if the Jets could even fetch a second-round pick for their three-year starter. Some teams that would have made sense as Darnold suitors have moved on, and the Broncos are not planning to fork over a second-rounder for Darnold. While it is not certain if Denver is fully out on the passer it once coveted, new GM George Paton is not keen on trading his second-round pick for the passer that ranked last in 2020 QBR. The Panthers are also not believed to be high on Darnold.

The Jets were connected to a trade of Darnold or a trade of the No. 2 pick, but Vacchiano notes nothing has surfaced indicating the team has engaged in serious Darnold trade talks. Teams have inquired, however. Darnold remains on his rookie salary for 2021, but the Jets (or the team that acquires him) must decide on an $18.8MM fifth-year option by May 3. The Jets could theoretically keep both QBs, which would remind of the Chargers’ Drew BreesPhilip Rivers situation in the mid-2000s, but it should still be expected the team chooses between them.

The 49ers are not believed to have had serious discussions with the Jets about trading up to No. 2 overall, with San Francisco instead climbing to No. 3. The price the 49ers paid to rise nine slots — the No. 12 pick and a third-rounder in this year’s draft, along with 2022 and ’23 first-rounders — illustrates the value of the Jets’ selection. While Wilson still appears on course to succeed Darnold, GM Joe Douglas may not have made his final decision yet.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers, Jets Did Not Discuss No. 2 Pick

The 49ers’ decision to trade multiple future first-round picks to move up to No. 3 overall concluded a weekslong process, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that San Francisco held trade talks with both Atlanta and Cincinnati for their respective top-five selections (Nos. 4 and 5 overall, respectively).

However, the Jets and 49ers did not discuss the No. 2 overall pick, according to Schefter. Despite the high cost, the 49ers opted to move as high as they could in this draft. Having turned to ex-49ers coaches to help ignite a rebuild, the Jets have been connected to BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with that choice. The Jets attended Wilson’s pro day Friday, and Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes John Lynch was present at the Provo, Utah, showcase as well. (Interestingly, Jaguars HC Urban Meyer did not, SI.com’s Albert Breer tweets.)

While GM Joe Douglas may still trade the pick and go with Sam Darnold, the reality Corey Davis said he signed up for, quarterbacks are a near-certainty to go first and second overall. With the 49ers making this move, QBs should be expected to go first, second and third for the first time since 1999 (Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith).

The Jets chose Darnold third overall in 2018 but saw the once-coveted quarterback regress last season, and the team has not seen the USC product justify the previous regime’s investment. Douglas not being with the Jets when they chose Darnold figures to be important here. The 49ers trading up points to the team believing the Jets will draft Wilson second, Brian Costello of the New York Post writes, leaving Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones — among QBs — on the board after the Jaguars and Jets make their respective picks.

Douglas keeping Darnold and trading out of that draft slot would open the door to another team trading up to No. 2 and potentially leaving Wilson on the board, should the trading-up franchise prefer one of the other QBs. However, Wilson-to-New York has become the most likely scenario after the Jags begin the draft with Trevor Lawrence.

Regardless of where Wilson goes in the draft, the Dolphins trading out of the No. 3 slot almost certainly means the rest of the non-Jags/Jets/49ers contingent will be down to two of these passers. The Falcons have been connected to quarterbacks as well. No draft has started with four straight QBs going off the board.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Likely To Draft Zach Wilson With No. 2 Pick?

When the Jets deigned to win a couple of games towards the end of the 2020 campaign to take themselves out of the running for Clemson signal-caller Trevor Lawrence, their draft plans suddenly became very uncertain. There was still plenty of speculation connecting them to consolation prize QBs like BYU’s Zach Wilson or Ohio State’s Justin Fields, but a trade down, a top receiver (LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase), or a top LT (Oregon’s Penei Sewell) also became distinct possibilities.

As the offseason has gone along, though, it has looked increasingly likely that the Jets would nab Wilson. And according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, it’s Wilson’s “job” to lose (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com on Twitter). Wilson’s pro day is tomorrow, and assuming all goes well, it looks like he is destined to become the Jets’ next hope for a franchise quarterback.

Of course, that leaves the third overall pick of the 2018 draft, Sam Darnold, in an awkward position. Some of the Jets’ theoretical trade partners for Darnold may no longer be viable landing spots, and while New York could keep Darnold and have him and Wilson battle it out for the starting gig, Gang Green would obviously prefer to acquire some draft capital for Darnold if it’s committing the No. 2 overall pick to Wilson.

For what it’s worth, new acquisition Corey Davis said that when he signed with the Jets, he was under the impression that Darnold would be the team’s signal-caller. Of course, that doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s still notable that a top free agent wideout was comfortable enough with Darnold to hitch his wagon to the embattled QB.

Wilson was tremendous in his final collegiate season, throwing for 33 TDs against just three picks, and he added 10 rushing TDs for good measure. That showing catapulted him past Fields in the eyes of many pundits, and it seems the Jets feel the same way.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

New York Notes: Darnold, Giants, Sanders

Before the legal tampering period kicked off, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com said it was more likely than not that the Jets would trade Sam Darnold, assuming that BYU QB Zach Wilson — whom the Jets would select with the No. 2 overall pick to replace Darnold — “checks the important boxes during the pre-draft process.” Cimini said at the time that there was a market for Darnold, and he named Washington, the Bears, the Seahawks, the Texans, and the 49ers as potential landing spots.

But since then, WFT signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chicago acquired Andy Dalton. Obviously, neither of those QBs are long-term answers, but they do at least obviate an immediate need for a signal-caller. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are moving forward with Russell Wilson, Houston may be unable to trade incumbent QB Deshaun Watson in light of the sexual abuse allegations that have been levied against him, and it’s unclear how actively San Francisco is pursuing an upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo. As such, the Jets might not be able to trade Darnold, and it will be interesting to see if that will impact the team’s decision with respect to Zach Wilson (or any other rookie passer).

Now for more out of the Empire State:

  • In less exciting Jets news, the team is still looking into free agent kickers and wants to find a starting-caliber corner, as Cimini writes. The CB need will probably be filled in the draft; Cimini does not expect the club to pursue Richard Sherman, despite the obvious Sherman-Robert Saleh connection.
  • It might go without saying, but when the Giants agreed to a three-year, $63MM pact with DL Leonard Williams a few days ago, Williams agreed to drop his grievance concerning his 2020 franchise tag, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Williams was tagged as a defensive tackle but believed he should have received a defensive end tag, and if he had prevailed, his tag number for 2021 would have jumped to $21.4MM. Since he got a $21MM AAV on his extension, things worked out just fine for him in the end.
  • Per Dan Duggan of The Athletic, Williams — who is clearly not afraid to bet on himself — pushed for a shorter contract so that he can hit the open market again before he turns 30. Duggan says the Giants have explored restructures for 2020 signees James Bradberry and Blake Martinez, something the club may need to really push for now that it has agreed to a big-money deal for WR Kenny Golladay.
  • The Giants signed veteran TE Kyle Rudolph earlier this week, but his addition does not impact Evan Engram‘s status with the team, a source tells Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. Engram will play out the 2021 season on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal and hopes for a strong platform performance after struggling a bit in 2020.
  • These days, instead of being forced to reach out to agents to convince their clients to play in western New York, agents are the ones calling the Bills, as Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News writes. Head coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane have created a winning club and a positive culture, and players around the league are taking notice and now see Buffalo as an attractive destination. While the Bills didn’t have a ton of cap space heading into this year’s free agent cycle — or many major holes to fill — they did bring in WR Emmanuel Sanders, whom they had targeted for several years. Sanders is a prime example of the changing feelings towards Buffalo, saying “[w]ho wouldn’t want to be part of it?” (via John Wawrow of the Associated Press).

Latest On Jets, Sam Darnold

With Carson Wentz now a member of the Colts, the next quarterback domino to fall could be Sam Darnold. The former second overall pick’s status is up in the air, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s starting for the Jets next season or if he’s shipped out for whatever trade compensation New York can get. In a recent piece, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com runs through all the plausible scenarios for Darnold.

Trade him and draft a quarterback, keep him and take the best player available at number two, or keep him and trade down with a team looking for a passer. Cimini writes that “there are some who believe” the Jets could get more for Darnold than the Eagles got for Wentz. Philly, of course, got a third-round pick and a second-rounder that can turn into a first-rounder if Wentz plays 75 percent of the snaps for Indy this season. We heard just yesterday that potential compensation for Darnold would be a second-rounder, but apparently others in league circles think it would take more.

One league source highlighted to Cimini that Darnold is under team control relatively cheaply for the next two years as a reason why. If the Jets do decide to throw in the towel on Darnold and start over, Cimini writes that his “hunch” is that it would be for BYU’s Zach Wilson with the second pick.

Interestingly, Cimini says that a source from one team that had inquired with the Jets about trading for the former USC star “came away with the impression Darnold won’t be dealt.” We heard a couple weeks ago that multiple teams had called about Darnold, and it doesn’t sound like those calls were too productive.

Many have treated it like a foregone conclusion that Darnold will be dumped this offseason, but that sentiment is probably misguided. If he is dealt, one hypothetical trade that Cimini floats is between the Jets and Washington, with the teams swapping first-round picks (19 & 23), and Washington sending their second-rounder this year and their third-rounder next year.

If they stand pat at number two and don’t trade Darnold or trade down, Cimini currently projects them to take LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase as the best player available. We should hear a lot more about Darnold in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Zach Wilson Declares For NFL Draft

A fast-rising quarterback prospect, Zach Wilson will depart BYU early. The junior quarterback announced Friday (via Twitter) he will skip his senior year and declare for the 2021 draft.

Not on the early-first-round radar going into this unusual college football season, Wilson has rocketed onto that tier. The Cougars quarterback finished with a 33-3 TD-INT ratio in 12 games, and his 3,699 yards rank third in the country. Also rushing for 254 yards and 10 touchdowns, Wilson led BYU to an 11-1 record this season.

The BYU quarterback has leapfrogged Ohio State’s Justin Fields, whom most expected to be the second quarterback drafted behind Trevor Lawrence in April, on ESPN.com’s Todd McShay’s latest big board. A host of NFL staffers believe Wilson will come out ahead of Fields, per Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com.

While McShay slots Wilson eighth on his latest big board, the value of the quarterback position will put him in play as a top-five pick. With the Jets missing out on Lawrence, who is the expected Jaguars selection at No. 1, they could turn to the ascending BYU product at No. 2 overall.

Wilson will join a quarterback class that is expected to include Lawrence and Fields, along with North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Alabama’s Mac Jones and Florida’s Kyle Trask. The Gators quarterback announced Thursday, as expected, he will not seek a now-available fifth season in Gainesville.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.