Is Zach Wilson Destined For The First Round?

By Joe Kerrigan

With the #8 nationally ranked BYU Cougars boasting a fantastic 8-0 start to the season, Zach Wilson, the junior from Draper’s Corner Canyon High, has catapulted himself to the top five candidates for the Heisman Trophy. Wilson is reportedly flying up NFL draft boards, even though he still hasn’t officially declared for next April’s Player Selection Meeting — the draft’s official name.

Making A Statement

Zach Wilson
Credit: Associated Press

BYU seemingly launched Wilson’s official Heisman campaign with a “#W1LSONHE1SMAN” tweet, following Wilson’s commanding victory over #21 ranked Boise State for 360 yards, three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a 51-17 Cougars thriller.

Wilson ranks fourth best in the country in completion percentage with 75.1% and fifth in passing yards per attempt (11.37), these numbers provide a true indication into Wilson’s productivity. 

Speaking of efficiency, Wilson is fifth nationally in passing efficiency with a mark of 201.6 and has thrown 22 touchdown passes with just two interceptions, remarkable considering he’s only played all four quarters in two of BYU’s eight games: against UTSA and Houston.

Wilson will be a force to be reckoned with when he eventually steps into the NFL, and if he falls into the hands of someone like the 49ers Head Coach, Kyle Shanahan, he could be moulded into a top tier quarterback.

Standing Out From The Pack:

So how does Zach Wilson stack up against the three PAC-12 QB’s I previewed in my article two weeks ago so far this season? Let’s take a look:

Jayden Daniels

Sizzling

Jayden Daniels may only be one game into the season, but he is already someone viewers should have on their radar. 

In his first game against USC against my other PAC-12 player to watch, Kedon Slovis, he led Arizona state to a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but the game unfortunately slipped out of his hands. 

His stats against USC were not fantastic with only 134 yards with 11 completions from 23 attempts but his ground game was hopeful with nearly 11 yards per running attempt. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, for the second straight week, they have had a game cancelled as their week 3 matchup against Colorado is rescheduled. 

It’s far too early to compare Daniels’ meagre body of work to Wilson’s, but ASU fans will have optimism for the future. Daniels will hope to prove people wrong who have doubted him in the past, but will he be able to live up to the hype? Time will tell.

Kedon Slovis

PAC-12

Two weeks in and Slovis is undefeated, but is he playing as well as we had hoped?

USC almost crippled themselves in the first game of the season against Arizona State with three turnovers inside Sun Devils territory. Twice, they turned the ball over on downs in the same spot. 

Even when the offense racked up 556 yards, they struggled to find a rhythm. USC had rebuilt half of its staff and fortified almost everything else to avoid the mistakes from a season ago. 

As the Trojans lined up for a frankly desperate onside kick, down six points with 2:49 remaining and no timeouts left, its fate seemed assured and USC had done all it could to lose the game. 

But then, as if by magic, USC recovered an errant bounce and hope was suddenly alive and surging throughout the Coliseum. Kedon Slovis capped an extraordinary comeback seven plays and 45 yards later that ended in a 28-27 opening weekend victory for USC. 

Even the second game against Arizona, was left up in the air until the final minutes and some clinical plays by Slovis. He went 5 for 5 for 69 yards in the final drive of the game to win the game 34-30. He mixed some insane long throws with several missed targets and spiral-less wobbles, leaving question about his arm talent

Slovis deserves a ton of credit for dragging his team back into both contests this season. And whilst he has the skillset and measurables that some scouts might look for, his achievements this term haven’t jumped off the screen like Wilson’s have, USC are winning, they aren’t winning pretty. Will someone dash their post season dreams, or will Slovis continue to work miracles?

Jayden de Laura

PAC-12

The freshman Washington state quarterback has established himself as a force in the conference and whilst it is only two optimistic games into the season, he has far exceeded his pre-season expectations. 

In his first game against Oregon State, a game which many expected him to lose, de Laura came out and dominated with a 38-28 score line. He threw for 227 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and while his stats don’t speak volumes, he proved he could hang in this conference.

With even more eyes on him in week two, de Laura verified that he belongs as a starting quarterback in the PAC-12, throwing for 321 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Jayden performed admirably against what many might claim to be the best defense, especially the secondary, in the entire conference and has shown his athleticism to use his feet if necessary, a quality heavily looked for in todays game.

Not only has de Laura marked his territory as a force to be reckoned with, but his position of second in the conference in passing yards and third in passing touchdowns is only more fuel to the fire. 

Unfortunately for the near future, de Laura’s career is on hold as he recently tested positive for COVID after only the second game of the season. Things look promising for the freshman, and whilst he won’t provide competition to Wilson should the BYU gunslinger declare, he will no doubt be on the radar of NFL scouts in the future.

JOE KERRIGAN

CFB/NFL ANALYST

JOE IS A 22 YEAR OLD PACKERS FAN FROM LONDON. HE IS STUDYING A MASTERS IN SPORTS JOURNALISM AND IS THE CREATOR AND HOST OF THE OVERTIME SHOW PODCAST.

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