2021 NFL Draft: Can Zach Wilson sneak into the first round?

2021 NFL Draft prospect Zach Wilson (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
2021 NFL Draft prospect Zach Wilson (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images) /

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson has been skyrocketing up 2021 NFL Draft boards after his hot start to the season

Zach Wilson had a solid first two seasons at BYU. He became the youngest starter in BYU’s history during his Freshman year. He appeared in nine games and started in seven of those for the Cougars. He threw for  1,578 yards, 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions as a true freshman.

His sophomore year on the other hand was rocky. He injured his hand mid-way through the season, and missed four games after receiving surgery. When he was healthy Zach Wilson did not play necessarily well either. He turned the ball over nine times, which was more than the previous year, and made a lot of errand throws. Wilson was still able to throw for 2,382 yards and 11 touchdowns, but he was nowhere near the NFL discussion.

That all changed this season. Wilson, the former three-star recruit, has played lights out for the Cougars en route to a 3-0 record thus far. He has been the leader of the offense, and has flashed elite arm strength and accuracy. He throws perhaps one of the prettiest spirals that you’ll see; while completing 85 percent of his throws, and delivering dimes.

Wilson hasn’t been throwing check-downs either. He’s thrown for 949 yards, six touchdowns and only one interception in three games while being aggressive throwing the ball down-field. Per PFF, Wilson ranks second in yards per attempt this season with a 13.2 average. The NCAA leader is Alabama quarterback Mac Jones who leads with 13.4.

Listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Wilson is a little lean for his size, but has the height to stay in the pocket and find receivers. His athleticism also allows him to extend plays when the pocket collapses and find open targets. Wilson isn’t much of a runner, but is not afraid to take off and run when needed. He’s able to use his under-appreciated athleticism and pick-up yards. This season Wilson has ran into the end zone five times.

Wilson’s recent play has catapulted into both the Heisman and NFL conversation. The BYU quarterback has the sixth best odds (20/1) to win the coveted award. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. put Wilson as his fifth ranked quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.

"“He’s on fire. Wilson has added weight and strength to his 6-3 frame, and he is sensing pressure well, manipulating the pocket and showing off his arm. He throws a great ball. Again, Wilson could stay in school and enter the 2022 draft, but he is a legit prospect.”Mel Kiper Jr. (via ESPN)"

dark. Next. First-Round 2021 NFL mock draft

In a 2021 NFL Draft class that includes Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence, it may be difficult for Wilson to secure himself as a first-round pick. However, If he keeps up his stellar play, he could leap-frog fellow prospects Trey Lance and Kyle Trask. And be the third quarterback taken off of the board. The smarter move may be to wait until 2022 and potentially be the first quarterback taken in the draft.