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Is Zach Wilson a Buy?
Is Zach Wilson a Buy?

September 29, 2022

Quarterbacks get too much credit when they’re good and too much blame when they’re bad. Most player failures are really organizational or coaching failures. If you don’t support a young quarterback with an offensive design that comports with his skill set and, most importantly, a sound offensive supporting cast, you’re setting him up for failure.

The Jets failed to support Sam Darnold, who also got extremely unlucky with a case of mono in his critical second season. Joe Douglas wasn’t fully responsible for that, having joined the franchise after the 2019 draft and free agency, but he learned from it. In the past two drafts, he’s added two top wide receiver prospects and two running backs, one of whom, Breece Hall, was the top RB prospect in his draft class. The Jets supporting cast is making Joe Flacco look competent, which no one thought was possible. Flacco leads the NFL in attempts and completions. A big reason: rookie WR Garrett Wilson, who is drawing Justin Jefferson comparisons and is up 13% over the past month.

Yet here is Zach Wilson bumping around near his low price of $30.18. If this Jets skill talent is too big for Joe Flacco to fail, why isn’t the same thing true for Wilson? Yes, Wilson was bad last year, but so was Trevor Lawrence. Yet Lawrence is trading at nearly twice the level that Wilson was. Sure, Lawrence was a generational prospect, but Wilson was the near unanimous second-best prospect in what was considered a strong QB class. It’s not hard to succeed at quarterback when you have wide receivers as highly regarded as Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore.

So how likely is a rebound for Wilson? I looked at rookies age 22 or younger (Wilson played at age 21 in 2021) with a yards per pass attempt (YPA) of 6.0-to-6.5 (Wilson’s was 6.1), and with more interceptions than TDs (Wilson had nine TDs and 11 picks, though he ran for four scores).

Note that YPA, unlike passer rating, is relatively stable across all eras. Here’s the results (min 10 starts):

Norm Snead (1961)

Bob Griese (1967)

Peyton Manning (1998)

Matthew Stafford (2009)

Blake Bortles (2014)

Josh Allen was just over 6.5 YPA, so he did not make the list, though he had more picks than TD passes, too. So you have a couple of Hall of Famers (Bob Griese), a future Super Bowl MVP, a four-time Pro Bowl QB (Snead) and Bortles, who is fairly called a bust, but who did have a 35-TD-pass season and nearly advanced to the Super Bowl another season.

Irrespective of the personnel upgrades, Wilson should not have been written off as a prospect due to his rookie season. But of course there are dramatic changes favoring him, as we’re seeing with Flacco. He also is in a Kyle Shanahan-based system that generally elevates QB play (Jimmy Garoppolo is third all-time in YPA, minimum 1,000 pass attempts). It’s interesting that Wilson won the Rookie of the Week Award last year three times. No other rookie QB won it once. Is this mere trivia? Maybe. But Wilson did flash elite traits at least periodically even last season.

Michael Salfino is a Contributing Writer at Mojo. All trades you make are with Mojo, which sets the lines as the “house”. Recommendations are for entertainment purposes only. Please use your own judgment and data to make trades. 21+. Must be in NJ to trade. Gambling Problem? 1-800-GAMBLER
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