The Jets’ quarterback plan came into focus on Friday with developments in Utah, California and Pennsylvania.
A Jets contingent of general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and attack coordinator Mike LaFleur watched BYU quarterback Zach Wilson pitch an indoor fieldhouse in Provo, Utah as part of the school’s pro day. Wilson is the favorite to be the team’s # 2 overall pick and did nothing to change that perception during his throwing session.
The bigger signals came from what other teams may have been doing in the quarterback market on Friday afternoon. First, the 49ers traded with the Dolphins to move to No. 3 in next month’s 2021 NFL Draft. The assumption is that the 49ers will go up to draft a quarterback.
ESPN reported that the 49ers and Jets did not hold trade talks, but that may be because the 49ers already knew the Jets wanted to conquer Wilson.
The 49ers and Jets also have close ties to their coaching staff with Saleh and LaFleur coming from the 49ers. Chances are, the 49ers will know what the Jets are thinking at No. 2 and will let the trade know which quarterbacks will be available at No. 3. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is expected to be taken by the Jaguars as No. 1. Urban Meyer did not attend Wilson’s pro day, another indication that Lawrence is the Jacksonville man.
The other exchange that happened on Friday was for the Eagles to go back from No. 6 to No. 12 in an exchange with the Dolphins, who shipped a crop they’d just gotten from San Francisco to Philadelphia. The NFL Network reported that the Eagles were interested in moving up to No. 3, but only for Wilson. Their decision to subsequently go back indicates that they know that Wilson No. 2 will be taken. Douglas worked for the Eagles for three years before being hired by the Jets.
All of this leads to one conclusion: the Jets will launch Wilson No. 2 in general and trade Sam Darnold, except for something very unexpected.
The Jets got their first personal look at Wilson on Friday. He threw about 70 passes during the session and did not disappoint. He made some beautiful throws, one that stood out was a deep pass to the right as he rolled to the left, showing remarkable arm strength.
“Today’s goal was to show what makes me different, the types of throws I can make, so I feel like other guys aren’t practicing and trying to do it,” Wilson said in a Zoom interview afterward. “That was today’s goal to show what makes me different.”
On the NFL Network, Wilson and Douglas were chatting after his throwing session. Wilson said he has already spoken to the Jets through Zoom and likes the staff.
“Great staff, love those guys. Joe Douglas is a great guy, ”said Wilson. “It was good to see him out here. They have a good business. My Zoom interactions with them were a bit like any other team, they just tried to keep going and they just try to pick your brain, see what you stand for, the way you process things and all that sort of thing. It has 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 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 have not improved over the past two years.
The 21-year-old didn’t do any of the professional exercises because he said he adjusted a hamstring a few weeks ago. However, the teams weren’t there to watch him run the 40-yard dash. They wanted to see him throw and he put up a good display.
“Something that I feel separates me is just my passion for the game,” said Wilson. “I really put a lot of time into what I do. Through all these years and so, I have devoted my life only 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 have. ”