The Jets officially anointed Zach Wilson their latest savior under center.
In a move that’s been expected all month, New York made the BYU quarterback the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft on Thursday night. In doing so, Wilson became the latest gunslinger tasked with leading the Jets back to the promised land.
Wilson will follow in the footsteps of Sam Darnold, who the Jets traded to the Panthers earlier this month despite drafting him third overall just three seasons ago. Darnold, of course, followed Christian Hackenberg, who followed Geno Smith, who followed Mark Sanchez. The list of disappointing quarterbacks goes on and on.
Not that optimism didn’t follow most of the men above to New York, but there are some legitimate reasons to believe the Jets finally got it right with Wilson. That has as much to do with his talent as it does the people around him. The mobile quarterback profiles as a strong fit in Mike LaFleur’s offense, which is predicated on run-pass options and play-action. Wilson will also have a better supporting cast, front office and overall coaching staff than Darnold ever did with the Jets.
Wilson soared up draft boards this past season, responding to an injury-plagued 2019 campaign with a breakout 2020. The 21-year-old threw for 3,692 yards in 12 games as a junior, adding 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing 73.5 percent of his passes. He also ran for 286 yards and 10 scores.
While there were questions about Wilson’s durability — he had shoulder surgery following his freshman season and required hand surgery during his sophomore year — and the weak competition he faced at BYU, Joe Douglas and the Jets obviously came away impressed.
Now they must do a better job of setting Wilson up for success after so many recent quarterbacks flopped in New York.