The questions that could ultimately haunt Jets’ Zach Wilson obsession

Joe Douglas could have drafted Justin Fields. He could have drafted Trey Lance. He could have drafted Mac Jones. And he could have kept Darnold.

More from:

Steve Serby

Giants’ offensive line fix better be in for NFL Draft 2021

Joe Douglas' moment of truth with Jets is here

Trevor Lawrence is about to take Jaguars by storm: 'He can do anything'

Plenty of blame to go around for Mets' ugly Jacob deGrom hangover

Giancarlo Stanton's awakening a scary Yankees reminder

Only six days before Sam Darnold would begin his ill-fated 2020 season with Adam Gase, Zach Wilson was quarterbacking BYU in relative anonymity to a 55-3 romp over Navy at an empty Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.

The Tank For Trevor drumbeat quickly became the soundtrack to the Jets season. Not a single Tank For Zach anywhere.

Look at him now.

On the eve of being announced by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as the next franchise quarterback asked to be savior of the New York Jets, 53 turbulent seasons after Super Bowl III.

Forget for now the prayers of long-suffering Jets fans and dreamers that he can be the quote-unquote Next Joe Namath. 

The kid will have other more immediate fish to fry: proving Jets GM Joe Douglas right.

Douglas didn’t get the chance to draft Lawrence. 

But he could have drafted Justin Fields.

He could have drafted Trey Lance.

He could have drafted Mac Jones.

And he could have kept Darnold.

It was Wilson who made his jaw drop and his heart throb.

Zach Wilson’s career will forever be compared to the QBs the Jets didn’t go with.
Getty Images

It was Wilson who convinced Douglas to reset the financial clock at quarterback and trade Darnold to the Panthers.

It is Wilson who will be measured against each and every one of them for years, the way Eli Manning was measured against Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. The way poor Mitch Trubisky was measured against Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. The way Daniel Jones was for a fleeting few minutes against Dwayne Haskins. The way Tua Tagovailoa is measured against Justin Herbert.

It is all there on tape why Douglas made this career-defining decision to usher in the dawn of yet another day, the ease and machine-gun speed with which the ball leaves his hand, the tight-window accuracy and ball placement, the off-platform genius, the swagger, the fearlessness, all of it. The Jets, of course, know full well that evaluating quarterbacks is an inexact science. 

“He’s got freakish throwing ability, and passing ability, they’re two different things,” ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick told the Post. “You can throw the football like you’ve been blessed with an arm that just can do things other people can’t, and he can pass the football with touch and accuracy in the way that it doesn’t always have to be perfect for him for him to still do that. Good athlete, highly competitive, you watch their offense at BYU, it does a lot of the same things you see in the NFL, and when I watch them I think of Kansas City’s offense. It looks just like it.”

Douglas and new Jets HC Robert Saleh pegged him as a perfect fit for OC Mike LaFleur’s system, which means he would have been a perfect fit for the 49ers, because LaFleur learned under Kyle Shanahan. 

In no particular order:

Question No. 1: Will Wilson, a kid from Draper, Utah, handle the biggest fishbowl of his life as well as Darnold did coming out of USC? Those who swear by him believe he will. Darnold, because of his three years experience, and because he has more weapons around him — RB Christian McCaffrey, WRs Robby Anderson and DJ Moore —  and an elite play-caller in OC Joe Brady, will have the early edge.

Sam Darnold never got the right personnel around him during his Jets tenure.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Question No. 2: Will Wilson be a better fit in New York than the quarterback Shanahan covets — reportedly Jones or Lance — in San Francisco?

Not in the beginning, because the Jets are in rebuilding mode and Douglas must ace the player procurement test so Wilson has a better supporting cast than Darnold ever did, and because the 49ers are built to win now.  

Question No. 3: Given the difference in their respective levels of competition, why didn’t Douglas opt for Fields? There were several teams that reportedly rated Wilson over Lawrence, but there are also evaluators such as ESPN’s Mel Kiper who prefer Fields to Wilson. Fields is as tough as they come and the modern-day dual threat quarterback who seems to love the big game and the bright lights. At 6-foot-3, 227 pounds, the guy runs a 4.44 40? Are you kidding me? 

Question No. 4: Will Lance ultimately be the best of the bunch? Riddick believes he has the highest upside of them all. Lance is arguably the most intelligent of  the crop and his upside as the modern-day dual-threat quarterback is to the moon.  And he’s an imposing 6-4, 227.  Wilson’s slight build — 6-2, 214 — gives some pause as to how well he will stand up to the weekly pounding. The Jets had no issues with his 2019 right shoulder surgery. 

Wilson figures to get the early jump on Lance, who played one game last season at North Dakota State and will be best served to redshirt as a rookie until he is deemed ready. 

The Jets blew their shot at Lawrence. Wilson’s mandate: prove he’s no consolation prize.

“We know this — people are gonna be hyped-up,” Riddick said recently. “The Jets fan base is already like out of control hyped-up about him.  I just hope he’s able to live up to it. He is a phenomenal talent.” 

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Steve Serby

Follow us on Google News