Here we go. Just 10 weeks into their respective NFL careers, we are already seeing rookie quarterback re-drafts dropping left and right.
I want to say straight from the beginning that it’s important not to take too much stock into hot takes like these that often involve a good deal of hindsight and a tremendous lack of bravery from analysts that were very high on the exact same prospects months before.
For the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars, similar two-win records have not fulfilled the feeling of change that most fans hope for under a new franchise quarterback. Things are even worse for the Green & White, who have been without their rookie signal-caller since Week 7.
Having said that, you never expect a positive re-draft for a struggling prospect but a little conviction would be nice once in a while — and Jets fans got the opposite from a poll administered by Matt Miller of The Draft Scout.
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NFL Experts Re-draft Wilson Fifth
As beat reporter DJ Bien-Aime spoiled in his tweet, “this redraft had Wilson ranked [fifth],” but the reasoning isn’t solely based on the BYU product. A lot of it has to do with the Jets organization.
First of all, Miller “polled five scouts or high-level decision-makers from NFL teams about where they would re-draft the quarterbacks.” I want to be clear, this is not his analysis.
This time around the order went:
- Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (same rank).
- Justin Fields, Ohio State (up two spots).
- Mac Jones, Alabama (up two spots).
- Trey Lance, North Dakota State (down one spot).
- Zach Wilson, BYU (down three spots).
In a very Jet-like turn of events, the second overall pick has already dropped to fifth on the board and that includes falling below the rookie for the division rival New England Patriots. As ex-WFAN radio show host, Joe Benigno would say, “oh the pain!”
Based on the analysis, you have to wonder how unbiased these ranks were though. Lawrence has not taken a hit despite a rocky start to his career with the Jags. “His talents are undeniable. Said one evaluator, ‘anyone in Jacksonville would be struggling right now. His talent isn’t the issue,'” explained Miller.
Fields also seemed to get a pass in this regard (talent over situation). “Fields has the chance to be really good, he just needs help around him in terms of system and supporting cast,” said one undisclosed expert. Yet his record is 2-5 all the same, with a 59.4 completion percentage and six total touchdowns compared to eight interceptions and eight fumbles (16 turnovers).
Then there was Lance, who somehow outranked Wilson as a backup quarterback to Jimmy Garoppolo. The risky prospect has started one game this season, going 15 of 29 for 192 yards and a pick in a 17-10 loss to Arizona. He was sacked twice in that outing but did rush for 89 yards.
Here was the full statement on Wilson that came with a disclaimer:
Situation matters. I can’t express that enough when talking about quarterback success, especially early on. Zach Wilson has struggled and is now injured—something that was my primary concern with him coming out of BYU where he had two major injuries and one really good season of play. Four of our five scouts ranked Wilson at QB5 with one placing him at QB3. The biggest question is how much of Wilson’s ranking is his talent and production thus far, or the obstacles of becoming successful as the quarterback of the New York Jets?
So why does Wilson’s poor situation seem to plummet him in the ranks while the top two QBs on the list have had similar rookie campaigns? Is the knee injury that large of a concern? Or is this just another case of hindsight at its finest?
After the win over the Tennessee Titans, Wilson was flying high off a spectacular rookie effort — which was quite possibly the most jaw-dropping first-year QB performance of the season. Now he’s been forgotten after a loss in London and an injury in New England.
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Jets Fans Criticize Pundits
Many supporters did come to Wilson’s aid on Twitter. Joey Jets wrote: “Lol Mac Jones at three. Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields have not done anything more than Zach Wilson.”
Another football fan commented sarcastically: “Wow great rankings! Justin Fields and Trey Lance are dominating through the first 10 weeks right now and it shows! #ScoutingisDead”
NYJ Matt added: “My boy Matt Miller went from not having Zach Wilson in his Top 10 2021 QBs in November to having him [number two] overall in January, to now [number five] after [six] games played?” Although Miller didn’t technically rank the QBs as mentioned above, the argument still stands for those that did.
Finally, Shane Mosley wrote: “These are always bad cause rookie seasons never dictate a QB. Baker Mayfield, Sam Bradford, [Robert Griffin III] all [rookie of the year winners]. [Two] were some of the biggest bust QBs ever and Baker if he doesn’t start playing [consistently] will be a bust. [Four] years now of hot and cold pattern. But I get casual fans like this.”
Our very own Heavy on NFL panel broke down the franchise’s future behind Robert Saleh and Wilson on a segment of “I’m Just Saying with Brian Mazique.” Three out of four experts gave bleak outlooks for the organization describing the future as “highly questionable, nebulous/cloudy and sketchy.”
The only positive adjective came in from our beloved Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr., who described the future as “hopeful” before adding “extremely” in front for the sake of emphasis.
“For Pete’s sake people, Zach Wilson is 22 years old,” voiced Esden, “he’s just a little baby, he just came out of the womb.” It’s true, along with Lance, Wilson was the quarterback that most expected to take longer to develop based on the university he played at and the talent level he faced.
Still, there’s no denying the raw ability we’ve seen from the Jets prospect that is far greater than a player like Jones, who’s received a ton of NFL praise for executing within a helpful Patriots system.
Miller noted in the introduction: “The old rule was to wait three years before evaluating a draft pick—give the player and team time to figure things out was the idea.” Sometimes the old ways are still the best ways, Matt.