Is Zach Wilson the next Detroit Lions quarterback?

Zach Wilson, Brigham Young Cougars (Melissa Majchrzak-USA TODAY Sports)
Zach Wilson, Brigham Young Cougars (Melissa Majchrzak-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Zach Wilson, Brigham Young Cougars
Zach Wilson, Brigham Young Cougars (Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports) /

Zach Wilson draft positives

Now listed at 6-foot-3, 210-pounds, Wilson is known for being highly accurate (73.4% completion rate), competitive, and a decent athlete who can make things happen with both his arm and his feet. He does not get big numbers in yards rushing but has been productive at extending plays and using his speed to get out of trouble, evidenced by the 15 career rushing touchdowns in his three years in Provo.

Watching Wilson, a few things jump out at you pretty quick, he makes quick decisions and almost every ball he throws is catchable and located well. When rushers are bearing down on him in the pocket, he keeps his focus on his target. He can make every throw, although no one would say that he has the big cannon NFL teams covet, like Josh Allen or Matthew Stafford.

He moves well in the pocket and has a good sense of when he needs to climb the pocket most of the time to help avoid the rush and help his line protect him. As quickly noted, he can extend plays by rolling out and using his good agility and speed for his position. He doesn’t look to run first like some quarterbacks but has his eyes downfield, scanning for targets and directing traffic.

While he is not a huge threat to run, he has enough quickness to make plays if he sees man coverage and you don’t spy him with a linebacker. At times his mobility is reminiscent of Russ Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, or Deshaun Watson.

Wilson seems to have a gunslinger mentality and is not afraid to throw the ball into tight windows. The gunslinger label also reflects some of what we’ll discuss in the negatives section but gunslingers keep throwing the ball and have tremendous confidence in their own abilities, in that regard Wilson fits the description.

His arm strength is average to a little above for an NFL prospect that is going to be drafted to be a starter. He has a 3/4, sidearm release but he is capable of doing what elite QB’s do, adjust their arm slot to fit the throw they need to make. Wilson is accurate from any arm slot or angle, or on the run, and can put some heat on the ball when necessary.

The former Cougar can throw the ball to almost all parts of the field, across the hashes, further than 50 yards from an opposite hash, and shows no great limitation in pushing the ball downfield. Wilson is also known to be a football junkie and to spend many hours preparing by watching film and taking care of himself; these traits serve every professional athlete well, including NFL prospects.

At 21 years old, he has good experience but a knock on him will always be that his independent schedule did not force him to play that many Power-5 opponents. Wilson’s 28 career starts are almost all versus mid-major teams, Sunbelt, AAC, Mountain West, Conference USA, and military academies. They have scheduled Pac-12, MAC, B1G, SEC, and other independents, as well, during Wilson’s time under center, just to a lesser extent.

Wilson took over as the leader of his team midway through the 2018 campaign and has a 19-9 record which includes being 2-1 in bowl games and 2-4 versus ranked opponents. His team’s most impressive win with Wilson taking snaps was a 30-27 OT thriller versus a 24th-ranked University of Southern California squad in 2019, they also beat the SEC’s Tennessee Volunteers in back-to-back games. They did beat 21st-ranked Boise State away 51-17, too.