The downfall of Zach Wilson in 2022 coincided with the rise of Justin Fields. For each errant throw from Wilson, there’s a powerful Fields cross or explosive run, and that disparity has many individuals trying again to the 2021 draft and questioning “How on the earth did Fields go from the consensus No. 2 quarterback to the eleventh choose, whereas Wilson went from an unknown to the second general choice?” These of us at all times return to Zach Wilson’s professional day, extra particularly, this throw.
Because the tweet above aptly says, NFL followers imagine this was the throw that primarily fooled groups into pondering Wilson was worthy of a top-three choose. In flip, as Wilson rose up draft boards, Fields fell, and that throw is in charge for Fields’ drop. Each of these statements are absolute malarkey.
Wilson’s professional day occurred in March 2021. If that throw had such a drastic impact on Wilson’s draft inventory, then absolutely, he wouldn’t have been thought of a top-three choose previous to that impeccable throw, proper?
Right here’s aN NFL.com mock draft from February 2021 that predicts Wilson will probably be taken second general. Right here’s one from ProFootballNetwork with Wilson at No. 2 as effectively. USA Right now, Athlon Sports activities, Recreation Haus, Sports activities Illustrated, and Professional Soccer Focus — all of them had Wilson going second general by mid-February — greater than a month earlier than Wilson made that throw above. The Jets had their sights set on Wilson lengthy earlier than they had been allegedly fooled by his unbelievable Professional Day. At most, the Professional Day solidified their choice to take Wilson with the second general choose, however it very clearly didn’t make that call for them.
Nonetheless, the Zach Wilson catastrophe has quite a few NFL followers on edge forward of the 2023 draft, anxious extra groups will fall for excellent Professional Days from unproven faculty quarterbacks — notably Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson. Nevertheless, these are drastically totally different conditions. The place Wilson grew to become a sure-fire first-round choose over the course of his last faculty season, each Levis and Richardson had been extensively considered first-round abilities years earlier than 2022.
Right here’s a 2023 mock draft by Bleacher Report from earlier than the beginning of the school soccer season. Each Levis (projected eighth) and Richardson (twenty first) are anticipated to go within the first spherical. USA Right now had Richardson going sixth general and Levis going twenty first. Previous to the school soccer season, each of those guys had been already seen in excessive regard by most draft analysts. That wasn’t the case for Wilson.
Right here’s a “way-too-early” 2021 mock draft from NBC Sports activities. Do you see Wilson’s identify anyplace? What about on this Bleacher Report mock draft? Sports activities Illustrated? Nope. Wilson was nowhere to be discovered on any of those lists. Wilson used the shroud of the 2020 COVID season to persuade scouts that he was a pure improviser with the arm expertise to make up for his lack of athleticism. BYU performed weak competitors — solely two video games in opposition to ranked opponents, and the workforce went 1-1 in these video games — dominating the likes of Western Kentucky and Troy. That’s not the case for both 2022 Kentucky or Florida.
As is the case with any argument, there are certain to be outliers. Joe Burrow was projected to go undrafted by most individuals previous to the 2020 draft. He winds up having arguably the best season in faculty soccer historical past and going first general, main the Cincinnati Bengals to the Tremendous Bowl in simply his second season. Nevertheless, not solely ought to outliers by no means be the premise for a counterargument, however there’s additionally a distinction between Burrow main LSU to an undefeated season the place he took down Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, and Trevor Lawrence, and Wilson main BYU to an 11-1 season the place the very best quarterback he took down was…Boise State’s Cade Fennegan, the man who stuffed in for Hank Bachmeier in opposition to BYU? Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall, who beat Wilson’s Cougars whereas throwing the ball solely 15 occasions?
Clearly, hindsight is 20/20. Everybody was fooled by Wilson, together with myself. On the identical time although, Wilson’s poor profession trajectory is creating overreactions from followers evaluating him to incoming prospects who’ve taken wildly totally different paths to attain first-round standing. It’s okay to have issues over Levis and Richardson. When you dislike Levis due to issues together with his deep ball accuracy or tendency to depart the pocket too early, nice! When you dislike Richardson due to his poor decision-making or inconsistent mechanics, energy to you! When you dislike both as a result of their faculty careers have mirrored Zach Wilson… I do not know the way you got here to that conclusion.
As for Justin Fields, Wilson had nothing to do together with his fall. Fields was supposedly the consensus No. 2 choose. Keep in mind, there was one other quarterback taken earlier than Fields in Trey Lance. There have been a number of elements at play, the least of which was Wilson’s rise. Why did Fields fall? I couldn’t inform you, however I can inform you with nearly utmost certainty that Wilson was not the explanation.
With the horrid begin to Wilson’s profession, many followers are hoping their groups will keep away from equally ailing fates with the loaded 2023 quarterback class. That stated, the comparisons a few of these quarterbacks are dealing with to Wilson are unfounded. Whereas there could also be some similarities, there are additionally quite a few variations that outweigh them drastically. Cease searching for causes to dislike these QBs as prospects primarily based on off-field likeness. That’s not a profitable combo.