As trades begin to shake up the top of NFL draft, BYU QB Zach Wilson impresses in pro day

Mike Jones

With a couple of blockbuster draft-related trades going down around the NFL Friday afternoon, Brigham Young University quarterback Zach Wilson put on a performance that could entice a number of teams to try to pull off another.

With talent evaluators from around the league on hand, Wilson — regarded as one of the elite passers in this year’s draft — dazzled. The 6-foot-3, 209-pound Wilson displayed impressive accuracy, arm strength and athleticism and looked as good as advertised as top officials and/or coaches from and the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Atlana Falcons, Carolina Panthers, among others, looked on. 

Wilson took the field just minutes after news broke that the 49ers had moved up from the 12th spot to the No. 3 spot after giving the Miami Dolphins their first-round pick this year (12th), the 2021 third-rounder and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023.

In a quarterback-rich draft, scheduled to begin April 29, teams are eager to position themselves to select one of the top throwers.

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It’s believed that Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence will go first overall to Jacksonville. However, Wilson is regarded by many as the second-best passer in the draft. Some draft analysts have speculated that Wilson actually possesses the more impressive skill set because of his ability to deliver throws from various arm angles, or while on the run, and with his body contorted in a variety of ways. Wilson’s athleticism and passing ability have drawn comparisons to Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. 

QB Zach Wilson was a three-year starter for BYU.

With Friday’s performance, Wilson confirmed why he receives those comparisons. He nailed quick hitters, roll-out passes and deep throws. He made some deep passes with apparent ease despite throwing off of one foot, and another time while fading away from his target.

“The goal was to show what makes me different — the type of throws that I can make that other guys don’t practice and don’t try and do. That was the goal today: to show what makes me different,” Wilson said afterwards. “The game of football is changing, especially the quarterback position. You want someone who’s athletic and mobile in the pocket and can make all the throws, but also extend and make things from different angles and things like that so it was good to be able to work some of that today.”

Wilson was critical of himself, saying he had a couple of throws he wished he could have “cleaned up,” but he certainly achieved his goal of “showing coaches what you’re made of, how the ball comes off the hand, in the pocket and how you interact with the guys.”

Wilson didn’t do any of the other physical drills that preceded the passing portion of the Pro Day because he tweaked his hamstring and wanted to make sure that he didn’t injure himself for throwing. He said that he plans to later record himself running the 40, doing the vertical jump and other drills.

The Jets currently hold the No. 2 pick, and general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur all attended Wilson’s Pro Day. Wilson briefly spoke with Douglas after his workout.

The Jets do have options, however. They still have 2018 No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold under contract. Teams already have made inquiries about Darnold’s trade availability. But the Jets also are likely to receive calls about the availability of the No. 2 pick, especially after Wilson’s impressive day.