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A new hope: Zach Wilson the plan for Jets with No. 2 pick at 2021 NFL Draft

Zach Wilson Jets
BYU quarterback and Jets draft target Zach Wilson.
Melissa Majchrzak-USA TODAY Sports

Here we go again.

All signs point to Thursday night being the sixth time since Joe Namath’s departure that the New York Jets will draft a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft — and the third time in the last 12 years. 

And while they’ve yet to strike the same kind of gold that came with Namath, the hope is that BYU passer Zach Wilson can be that long-lost franchise quarterback that the organization has waited 50 years to get back. 

The junior catapulted up draft boards his junior season in 2020, completing 247-of-336 pass attempts (73.5%) for 3,962 yards, 33 touchdowns, and just three interceptions in 12 games in which BYU went 11-1. 

Throughout his collegiate career and at an impressive pro-day showing, he showed an ability to make accurate, playmaking throws both inside and outside the pocket. That mobility also helps extend the play while adding another dimension to his arsenal of threats. 

What might be the most important aspect of his game — especially when he is potentially entering a Jets franchise that has been dysfunctional for more than a decade — is his confidence. He isn’t afraid to try and make the big play, which at times may burn him, but a fearless leader in the pocket is exactly what the Jets need. 

Still, there are some concerns about that.

“His play is a little more reminiscent of a blend between Jake Plummer and Johnny Manziel coming out of college,” NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote. “As with Manziel, too much of Wilson’s work comes off-schedule due to inconsistent anticipation and a desire to hit the big play.”

It also helps that he’s going into a system that has received rave reviews for any incoming quarterback. 

“The one thing that I can attest to is from a schematic standpoint, the scheme that [offensive coordinator Mike] LaFleur is bringing is the best scheme in the world from an offensive standpoint, in my opinion,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said. 

While Wilson is a surefire bet at No. 2, the Jets also have the No. 23 pick in the first round, which they got from the Seattle Seahawks in the Jamal Adams deal.

It provides another big opportunity to address some voids along the depth chart, as former Jets offensive lineman Willie Colon told me on the Bridge and Tunnel Crew Sports Show Tuesday.

“To be honest, I hope they fill the holes,” he said. “The Jets roster is currently a C roster. It’s not a B, not an A roster. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have an A roster, meaning they can go on the road and beat a big-time team on the road… They can win big or win in a dog-fight, that’s what an A roster can do. 

“The Jets don’t have that. They have to figure out with the 21 picks [this year and next year] they do have, what’s the need? Who are they going to be picking up? Where are the holes at? They need help on the offensive line, they need some receivers, they need corners, they need linebackers for sure. They have a lot of needs.”

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