When analysts talk about New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, they normally reference his electric arm talent or natural throwing ability.
They need to start talking about his wheels.
In the lead-up to the 2021 NFL draft, Wilson was often compared to a variety of quarterbacks as pro comparisons.
- Aaron Rodgers (throwing motion)
- Patrick Mahomes (arm angles)
- Joe Montana (poise)
Although the one that was most fascinating was Russell Wilson.
“If he needs to run he’ll run. Zach Wilson scored 10 rushing touchdowns last season,” Jarom Jordan of BYU Sports Nation said. “He’s a weapon when he needs to be. He’s very Russell Wilson-ish. Wilson doesn’t scramble to get yards, he scrambles to get first downs and to throw deep.”
The Next Russell Wilson?
The former Super Bowl champion has played in the NFL for nine seasons. During that time span, he has carried the rock 803 times. 259 of those rushing attempts ended up being first downs.
To put that number into perspective, 32 percent of the time when Wilson scrambled he ended up getting a first down for the Seahawks.
It’s not something you can coach or teach. You either have it, or you don’t. That innate ability to go through your progressions as a quarterback and if nothing is there you tuck the ball and get what you can on the ground.
The former BYU star never ran for a lot of yards during his college career, but when he did tote the pigskin, Wilson made it count.
Wilson never ran for more than 254 yards in a single season at Brigham Young, but in his final season, he scored double-digit touchdowns on the ground (10).
“We asked Zach to do some zone read. Sometimes a little bit of QB run game or quarterback draw,” Former BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said via the ‘Move the Sticks’ podcast. When we called those plays I tried to make sure we were close enough to score a touchdown. We wanted to make sure we got points out of it and he didn’t get hit.”
Avoiding the Injury Bug at the Next Level
One of the big criticisms of Wilson heading into the 2021 NFL draft was his size.
During his Pro Day a few months ago, the 21-year-old measured in at 6-foot-2, 214 pounds. Which answered a lot of those pre-draft questions.
Something we won’t be able to answer until Wilson is taking hits on Sundays in the NFL is his durability. During college, he had a long medical history that included torn labrums and surgery on his throwing hand.
On one hand, the Jets will want to protect Wilson as much as possible, but it’s a fine line because you don’t want to take away what makes him so special.
Wilson’s ability to escape the pocket and extend plays is one of his best traits.
Going back to his Pro Day, we all saw the viral throw that highlighted Wilson on the move to his left, feet not set, and chucking it across the field to the right perfectly landing in the BYU receiver’s mitts in stride 60 yards down the field.
Zach Wilson put on a show at his Pro Day 🤩
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) March 26, 2021
You can make plays by getting outside the pocket and doing some zone read in the red zone while staying healthy. Just look at Russell Wilson.
The 32-year old has played nine years in the pros and has never missed a game. He’s played in 144 out of a possible 144 contests. Despite all the rushing attempts and hits, he’s accumulated in his career, Wilson has remained on the field.
Today’s NFL is headlined by quarterbacks that can beat you in multiple ways. The former BYU passer has the ability to make all the throws, but his potential on the ground is what can open everything else up for him.
If you’re an opponent of Zach Wilson this season, sleep on his wheels at your own risk.