Heading into the 2020 college football season, most draft analysts would’ve been hard-pressed to place Zach Wilson on their quarterback rankings for the 2021 NFL Draft. There was no way to be sure that Wilson would even enter the 2021 NFL Draft, as the Utah native had only played 18 games at BYU and looked to be a mixed bag when it came to quarterback skills.
With a severely truncated college football season (thanks to COVID-19) in 2020 and a seemingly well-defined quarterback class entering the season, most NFL fans could be forgiven for not knowing the name of the FBS-Independent quarterback out of Provo, Utah.
Just as the 2019 season saw the rise of Joe Burrow from a relative unknown to the first-overall pick, Wilson was 2020’s biggest quarterback surprise. After an impressive junior season, Wilson has skyrocketed the quarterback depth-chart of the 2021 NFL Draft. Some have even suggested that Wilson could be the second quarterback off the board this year, competing with the likes of Justin Fields for that coveted top-five draft spot.
Wilson is a bit of a football enigma. At 6-foot-3, 209 pounds, Wilson is shorter than most of the quarterback front-runners this year and is slender for a dual-threat quarterback. His stylish blonde hair and formal manner of speaking make Wilson look more like a Congressional-aide than a Gridiron warrior.
He can shout out coverages on the line of scrimmage, give orders to 300-pound linemen and then charm reporters with a humble disposition after the game, quick to cast a spotlight on his talented teammates. He attends Brigham Young University, a private religious college owned by the Church of Latter-Day Saints, but is self-admittedly not very religious.
How did a quarterback who threw less than 12 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons rise so quickly in the 2021 NFL Draft rankings? What factors were responsible for Wilson’s success in 2020? Is Wilson really this year’s Burrow or was the abridged 2020 season merely a flash in the pan? Does Wilson have what it takes to lead an NFL franchise?
In this article, we’ll examine the factors that helped Wilson shoot up the draft rankings this offseason. We’ll explore what skills Wilson showed on the field as a quarterback, both during his first two seasons and what improved in 2020.
We will also shine a spotlight on the things Wilson does well on film and exhibit the things Wilson still needs to work on. And finally, we’ll explore three NFL teams that could be looking to draft Wilson in the first round and what those teams will be looking for at this year’s 2021 NFL Combine interviews.