Zach Wilson QB1? A Breakdown of His Tape
I've been diving into Zach Wilson for the last few months and have been really intrigued by his potential. Let's first look at his measurables, with more detailed descriptions of his hand size coming later at the NFL Combine. Wilson comes in at 6'3" and weighs 210 pounds. He has a great size and pocket presence needed to play in the NFL, but that has become less of a factor due to the success of other small quarterbacks (Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Drew Brees, etc.). He definitely has room to get stronger and with an NFL weight room, I expect him to continue to grow into his body. I've seen some comparisons to Josh Allen, but Allen is a little bit bigger than Wilson.
His third season as the BYU Quarterback was without a doubt. Career highs in Touchdown passes (33), completion percentage (73.5%), Yards passing (3,692) and Quarterback rating (196.4). We all can read stats and understand that he had a great season. What I wanted to do was dive in to some of his games and see how his play on the field reflects his statistics. As we know, being a quarterback at the professional level is a whole other beast. Wilson will be a first round selection in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft and I hope to give you a better perspective on how he fits with your team.
Sep. 7, 2020 @ Navy
Starting on with the first play of the game. Wilson sees the high safety drifting down closer to the LOS. He does an excellent job recognizing that he has his receiver at the top one on one. Wilson goes through his progressions from left to right fairly quickly and takes a shot deep. Although this play was an incomplete pass, notice he drops it right in the bucket and on stride. Wilson goes through his progressions from left to right fairly quickly and takes a shot deep. Although this play was an incomplete pass, you notice his deep ball accuracy immediately.
Anticipation and placement of the ball is a trait that good quarterbacks have. This next throw is a RPO style look where Wilson has to make a quick read and anticipate a throw. The quick read, followed by confident decision making, leads to a perfect throw and catch. Wilson fires this ball with speed and anticipates the receiver before he has even turned around. It may seem like a simple read but it is truly an Impressive NFL level throw right here.
Now a couple of plays back-to-back to show Wilson's ability outside of the pocket. The first play shows him on a play-action rollout to the right. The deep ball accuracy, coupled with a back shoulder throw is quite impressive. I like the ball placement, but would like to see a little more zip on this throw. I think an NFL corner can make the adjustment on this throw, so there's something to work on at the next level. The second play is a great read on the read option. Wilson sees the defensive end commit to the back and keeps it. A great design on defense from LA Tech has the corner blitz to blow up the play. Wilson is able to fake out the corner and sprint to the pylon for 6. This shows his elite athleticism and ability to make "unscheduled plays".
October 2, 2020 vs. Louisiana Tech
Blitz recognition and hitting your check down receiver is a key for any quarterback at all levels. On this play, you see the safety commit to the blitz right away. Wilson is still able to go through the play-action, progress through his first options, and dump it down to his check down receiver before the rush hits him. Wilson doesn't even look at his check down option until he commits to the throw. This shows discipline, patience, and awareness in the pocket. Love this play as sometimes the simplest plays result in the biggest gains. The play was ultimately called back due to a holding call, but you see the positive play none the less.
This is a really simple throw out to the wide receiver, but in a lot of tape I've reviewed, his accuracy on screen passes is really impressive. Almost every throw I've seen in my review of 4 games in the All-22 view have been perfect. Love to see Wilson hit the receiver in the numbers on these basic screen throws.
Moving on to the Boise State game, this is an Aaron Rodgers type of play that I would like to see him take a shot deep. However, he makes a solid read, zips a ball in there, and the play results in a first down. With more experience and development, Wilson will learn to take a shot deep on an offsides/12 man on the field situation. Still, a positive result on the play, but something he can learn from in the film room.
November 6, 2020 @ Boise State
Wilson gets locked in on one read here in the second quarter against Boise State. There are going to be a lot of good and some bad on film and this was some of the bad. Wilson appears to get locked in on a read to his left and does not go through his progression as a man comes open down field on the opposite side. Something that scouts and general managers will look for is a quarterbacks ability to progress through his reads. Not his best moment here, but I want to stress that its just one play.
Another great example of his ability to make plays with his legs. Wilson is able to make a quick decision and pick up the first down, while avoiding the linebacker with ease. Playing devil's advocate here, he may come off his reads a bit too early, but the result is a first down. Much better than a sack or a forced throw. Moves the chains.
This play results in an incompletion, but I love the throw and accuracy from Wilson here. The red zone is the quarterback's money time. Wilson makes a good decision and gives his receiver a chance to take advantage of one-on-one coverage. The ball is perfectly placed on the back shoulder and the receiver makes that catch at the NFL level more times than not.
Just a beautiful play design and accurate throw from Wilson on this vertical out-and-up. He makes an accurate throw down field, but I would like to see him give his receiver a bit more separation. However, a completed ball down the sideline for a big play is much better than an overthrow. You can see his arm talent displayed in full force here.
Two plays here to digest. Wilson displays accuracy here once again and zip. He hits his receiver in stride and is quick in his decision making process. Another half-second or so and this ball could be taken the other way for 6. The second play is a minimal example of Wilson under center. Great play design and a perfect pass with the safety incoming. He allows the receiver to turn and move up field for a touchdown, meanwhile avoiding a collision with the safety. Ball placement has been excellent in the majority of his throws.
Ultimately, I've got Wilson as my QB2 in this year's draft class right behind Trevor Lawrence. With the right coaching and organization, Wilson has the ability to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL for many years to come. He can make plays with his arm and his legs. Accuracy/Ball Placement in the short and long throws continue to impress me on the tape. I'll come out with my final rankings as we get closer to Draft Day, but Zach Wilson is definitely worth a top 10 pick. Follow and engage with me on Twitter @FFSourPatchKid. I appreciate all feedback and conversation, positive or negative!