Is Zach Wilson the #1 QB Prospect?

(AP Photo/Jeff Swinger, Pool)

Chris Simms released a scorching hot take today with his 2021 NFL Draft quarterback rankings, putting Zach Wilson at #1 above everyone else.

Bold move placing the kid from BYU over a national champion and overall consensus #1. We have seen great quarterbacks from BYU have success in the NFL before though, namely Steve Young and Jim McMahon. Perhaps Zach will be the next one on this list. Maybe this is just a publicity stunt by Simms, maybe he's serious about this. Either way I will give it a serious look.

For a guy living in Eastern PA, I watched far more BYU games than I should have last season, and Zach was the reason for that. He's a ton of fun to watch and his arm strength is off the charts. He looks small when you watch him, but he's listed at 6'3/210, so he has solid size for an NFL QB. His college stats are as follows:

Source, ESPN

Didn't play too much in 2018, but his numbers were still solid with a 4/1 TD-to-INT ratio. His 2019 numbers are not a great look. Only a 62.4 CMP% and 11/9 split. He redeemed himself last year showing how good of a player he can be. An 11/1 TD-to-INT ratio is phenomenal. 3,692 yards averaging 11YDS/throw. What's impressive about these numbers is he is not throwing screens and passes 5 yards down the field. If you watched any BYU games you saw him throwing 40-60 yard deep balls multiple times a game. More often than not these balls were right on the money. In 2020 he threw 50 balls 20+ yards down the field and completed them 72% of the time. That was the best in college football. He also had the best QBR rating on these throws. Running isn't something he likes to do, but he has good speed for a QB. He ran for 254 and 10TDs last season, so he is a bit of a double threat. He did all this in 12 games which were often times largely spaced out due to cancellations and rescheduling. Nonetheless he led the team to an 11-1 record. The one loss coming to 18 Coastal Carolina, in which the game was scheduled 4 days prior to being played and saw BYU traveling cross country to CC to play. It was a rough game for Zach as the Coastal defense really held him in check. They straight-up bullied him at times.

Regardless this kid is exceptionally talented and I believe he will be a Top 2 QB from this draft class. My only concern is his numbers could be a tad over inflated due to the level of competition BYU faced last season. The only ranked opponents they faced were 18 CC and 21 Boise State who was without their QB. The only other notable teams they played were Houston, Louisiana Tech, and UCF. He was only sacked 11 times last year, so he either had a phenomenal line in front of him or he was getting the ball out quickly. From watching them I will say it was a mix of both plus Zach scrambling ability in the pocket. He is exceptional at moving around and creating space, giving his receivers more time to get open downfield. As a top pick he will not be going to a team with a solid line in front of him, so for his sake he will need to get the ball out quickly.

Let's compare Zach's stats to Trevor's.

Source, ESPN

Trevor played in only 10 games last season with a nearly 5/1 TD-to-INT ratio. His rating was lower than Zach's, but he was on pace for about the same amount of passing yards. Trevor also ran for 200 and 8TDs. Down from 563 and 9TDs in 2019. Trevor played in the tougher ACC with notable wins over 7 Miami and 2 Notre Dame in the ACC Championship game. Clemson ultimately lost to Ohio State in the CFP Semifinals. We know what Trevor is though. He's a winner and an all around solid quarterback. His shoulder surgery in the offseason is a concern, but it was on his non throwing shoulder and he will be ready for camp. A knock on Trevor is that he played with better talent and coaching around him across the board at Clemson than Zach did at BYU, but I still believe Trevor is the more pro ready QB. He should be very successful paired with Urban Meyer in Jacksonville. At this point I still believe Trevor should still be taken over Zach, even though Zach may have the higher ceiling. We will have to see if Zach does anything crazy at the combine. In the meantime enjoy some of Zach's highlights from last season.

Lastly I am by no means a Justin Fields fan, but he should not be ranked below Jones and Kellen Mond. OSU QBs rarely find success in the NFL, but if there was one who could I believe it's Fields. I also believe Kyle Trask deserves to be on this list. Especially over Mond and Lance, who just doesn't have the body of work in college to justify this type of ranking.