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Zach Wilson 2021 NFL Draft profile: Fantasy football fits, dynasty outlook, full scouting report and more

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Zach Wilson has enjoyed a rise up draft boards similar to what we saw from Patrick Mahomes prior to his final collegiate season to the end of it,, but Wilson’s ascension trumped even that of Mahomes in terms of draft stock and he is already now discussed as a potential option for the New York Jets at No. 2 overall (around this time prior to the 2018 draft, Mahomes was just starting to move into the first-round conversation). It’s no coincidence that both Mahomes and Wilson share an elite trait: arm talent. 

If you’re betting on Wilson, you’re betting on that same trait that helped both Mahomes and Justin Herbert find early success at the NFL level after not always dominating at the collegiate level. Wilson is nowhere close to a complete prospect or quarterback, and it’s impossible to know what kind of impact playing behind an elite offensive line will have as he attempts to translate to the next level, but it’s impossible to go more than a couple of series without seeing him complete NFL-level difficulty throws to all three levels of the field.

Wilson also consistently demonstrates the ability to create plays with both his legs and arm outside of structure when the pocket breaks down, which is more important in the NFL now than maybe ever before.

We’re breaking down everything you need to know about Wilson from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.

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Fantasy fits

San Francisco 49ers

Although it seems unlikely San Francisco can sit at No. 12 overall and have an opportunity to land Wilson, stranger things have happened in the draft. The 49ers could also get aggressive and trade up for Wilson if the Jets opt to draft Justin Fields or bypass QB and stick with Sam Darnold. Regardless, there’s no better fit for Wilson’s skillset than Kyle Shanahan’s offensive design besides maybe Andy Reid’s (and at BYU, Wilson’s offense stole a few plays directly out of Reid’s playbook). With a top-10 offensive line, plus skill players like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle, this is the ideal spot for Wilson.

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New York Jets

A more likely suitor given that New York owns the No. 2 overall pick, the Jets are also a strong fit based on how we can project their system to look under first-year offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. After coming over from San Francisco with Robert Saleh, LaFleur is expected to bring with him a similar system to Shanahan’s with the 49ers. The Jets have taken strides to rebuild their offensive line, Denzel Mims could take a Year 2 leap with improved QB play, and they have the cap space plus draft capital to upgrade multiple skill positions this offseason.

Carolina Panthers

If Carolina were to draft Wilson and give him a chance to start right away, it might be the only landing spot than can compete with San Francisco. With the Panthers franchise tagging Taylor Moton, they’ll have bookend tackles for Wilson plus Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and potentially Curtis Samuel to offer him at the skill positions.

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Dynasty outlook

In one-QB dynasty formats, Wilson comes in at No. 11 overall for me, just behind Trevor Lawrence. In superflex and two-QB formats, he’s top five on my big board. If you haven’t already picked up on it, I’m pushing most or all of my poker chips to the middle of the table on Wilson. Betting on elite traits that stand out above the competitions has been an excellent way for NFL teams to identify blue chip prospects and Wilson certainly has elite arm talent. More specifically, betting on arm talent has been fruitful in three of the last four draft classes (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert).

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Scouting report

Strengths

  • Rare arm talent that shows up more than ever when Wilson is tasked with throwing from an unbalanced base/platform. Wilson doesn’t need to have his feet set to generate throwing power and accuracy.
  • Pinpoint ball placement to all three levels of the field, earning elite 2020 grades (per PFF) as both an intermediate and deep thrower.
  • Doesn’t put the football in harm’s way often (just 1.2% of all of Wilson’s plays deemed “turnover worthy” per PFF).
  • A truly effortless thrower with a compact throwing motion that doesn’t feature any wasted movement — similar to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
  • Creative at avoiding pressure in the pocket, avoiding sacks, and turning in positive plays — similar to former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
  • Underrated athleticism and rushing ability both as a scrambler and on designed runs (642 career rushing yards, 15 TDs).

Concerns

  • Small sample size. Wilson broke out during the 2020 season at BYU but didn’t make much of an imprint during his previous two seasons.
  • Has dealt with injuries in the past. Shoulder and hand injuries limited him during the 2019 season.
  • Wilson played behind an elite offensive line, specifically relative to its competition. Wilson finished with a 96.5 PFF grade from a clean pocket under no pressure and a 74.1 PFF grade when pressured.
  • Was not pressed to come off his first read too often at BYU, and often times when he was, he opted to bail from the pocket and use his legs to create — the latter can be a blessing and a curse.
  • Wilson never faced a slew of highly-ranked opponents or top defenses while playing at BYU
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Stats breakdown

2020 12 73.5 3,692 33 3 254 10
2020 v top 25 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2019 v top 25 2 62.7 485 1 2 29
Career 34 67.6 7,652 56 15 642 15

Advanced stats to know

  • Highest-graded QB vs. zone coverage (95.9) in 2020, per Pro Football Focus
  • Second-highest accurate pass percentage (59.0%) in 2020 on throws past the first-down marker, per PFF
  • Second-highest graded QB (92.3) in two-minute drills in 2020, per PFF
  • Fourth-best adjusted completion percentage, per PFF
  • Third-best turnover-worthy play rate (1.2%), per PFF

NFL comparison

The more you watch Wilson, the more you see a few different former NFL quarterbacks show up in his play. There’s no former quarterback I see more of in Wilson than Tony Romo. But I also see bits and pieces of Baker Mayfield and Brett Favre. Wilson’s lightning-quick and compact release is reminiscent of Rodgers.


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