The Jets’ quarterback plan came more into focus on Friday through developments in Utah, California and Pennsylvania.
A Jets contingent of general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur watched BYU quarterback Zach Wilson throw all over an indoor fieldhouse in Provo, Utah as part of the school’s pro day. Wilson is the favorite to be the No. 2 overall pick by the team and did nothing to change that perception in his throwing session.
The bigger tells came from what other teams possibly in the quarterback market did on Friday afternoon. First, the 49ers traded with the Dolphins to move up to No. 3 in next month’s 2021 NFL Draft. The assumption is the 49ers are moving up to draft a quarterback.
ESPN reported the 49ers and Jets did not engage in any trade talks, but that may be because the 49ers already knew the Jets are set on taking Wilson.
The 49ers and Jets also have close ties with their coaching staffs with Saleh and LaFleur coming from the 49ers. The likelihood is the 49ers know what the Jets are thinking at No. 2 and made the trade knowing what quarterbacks will be available at No. 3. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is expected to be taken No. 1 overall by the Jaguars. Urban Meyer did not attend Wilson’s pro day, another indication that Lawrence is Jacksonville’s guy.
The other trade that happened on Friday was the Eagles moving back from No. 6 to No. 12 in a trade with the Dolphins, who shipped a pick they just got from San Francisco to Philadelphia. The NFL Network reported the Eagles had interest in moving up to No. 3, but only for Wilson. Their decision to then move back indicates they know Wilson will be taken No. 2. Douglas worked for the Eagles for three years before getting hired by the Jets.
All of this dot-connecting leads to one conclusion: the Jets will draft Wilson No. 2 overall next month and trade Sam Darnold, barring something really unexpected.
The Jets got their first in-person look at Wilson on Friday. He threw around 70 passes during the session and did not disappoint. He made a few beautiful throws, one that stood out was a deep pass to his right while rolling left that demonstrated remarkable arm strength.
“The goal of today was to kind of show what makes me different, the types of throws that I can make that I feel like other guys don’t practice and don’t try and do,” Wilson said in a Zoom interview after. “That was the goal of today to show what makes me different.”
The NFL Network showed Wilson and Douglas chatting after his throwing session. Wilson said he has already talked with the Jets via Zoom and likes the staff.
“Great staff, love those guys. Joe Douglas is a great guy,” Wilson said. “It was good to see him out here. They’ve got a good thing going. My Zoom interactions with them have kind of been like with any other team, just trying to go through and they just try to pick your brain, see what you’re about, the way you process things and all that kind of stuff. It’s been good.”
Wilson said he has family in the New York area and has been here several times. He said he would be happy to join whatever team that drafts him.
Wilson is coming off a monster 2020 season when he threw 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions. There are questions about the level of competition he faced and why his statistics were not better in the two years before last.
The 21-year-old did not do any of the pro day drills because he said he tweaked a hamstring a few weeks ago. The teams were not there to see him run the 40-yard-dash, though. They wanted to see him throw and he put on a good display.
“Something I feel like that separates me is just my passion for the game,” Wilson said. “I really put a lot of time into what I do. Throughout all the years and stuff, I’ve really just dedicated my life to football. It’s crazy you know when people try to ask me what I do outside of football, football is really my life. It’s like everything I’ve got going on.”