BYU's Zach Wilson lifts the MVP Trophy after beating Central...

BYU's Zach Wilson lifts the MVP Trophy after beating Central Florida at FAU Stadium on December 22, 2020 in Boca Raton, Florida. Credit: Getty Images/Mark Brown

Zach Wilson showed his impressive arm talents during his pro day, but people who studied his game video were even more wowed by what he did i against actual defenses.

Wilson’s outstanding junior season at BYU – 33 touchdown passes, three interceptions - helped him leapfrog every quarterback in this year’s draft class except Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars are expected to take Lawrence first overall Thursday night. It’s hard to find a draft expert who wouldn’t draft Wilson with the No. 2 pick, which the Jets likely will do.

"I would take Zach Wilson," ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky said. "He had the most throws on tape this year that made me go, ‘Holy Cow!’ He’s got some throws that you’re like, ‘Man, you just can’t teach that.’ He’s got uncoachable traits.

"I don’t use the ceiling and the floor thing. But when people reference ceiling, – he’s got some of that in his game. You go ‘Holy Smokes.’"

Over the years, Orlovsky has been extremely high on former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. He said he would take Darnold just ahead of Wilson if they were both in this draft. But Orlovsky understands why the Jets, who dealt Darnold to Carolina, are high on Wilson.

Orlovsky likened one aspect of Wilson’s game to Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson.

"He’s got that FOMO," Orlovsky said, "that Fear Of Missing Out style. Patrick has that, Russell has that, where they feel like they can make any throw on the field and they’re capable of making any throw on the field. And they’re always looking for it.

"I think there’s a lot of intrigue in that aspect of his game and his talent."

That comparison will have Jets’ fans giddy. They have been waiting for the Jets to acquire a quarterback who can make them perennial contenders.

The Jets’ 10-year playoff drought is the NFL’s longest current streak. They have never made the postseason for three straight seasons in their franchise’s history.

Wilson is a good fit for new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s system, but he won’t be able to snap the Jets’ playoff skid without help. Wilson will need the Jets to make sure they give him the weapons and protection that Darnold didn’t have, and that Robert Saleh has the players to make the defense dominant.

Orlovksy does have some concerns about Wilson’s future and one is whether the Jets can give him the support he needs as well as the coaching to develop his strengths and mitigate his weaknesses. They came up short in doing that Darnold.

"If you don’t do that or you can’t do that or the player’s unwilling to do that, that’s when we get these failures, that’s when we get those organizational quarterbacks busts so to speak," Orlovsky said. "That’s the question the Jets have to ask when it comes to Zach."

One other apprehension Orlovsky has is that Wilson didn’t play the same competition or "his job was the easiest" of the other four other highly touted quarterbacks in the draft – Lawrence, Alabama’s Mac Jones, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Ohio State’s Justin Fields.

Orlovsky said Wilson had all day to throw and his receivers had little trouble getting open.

"I think that he wasn’t tasked with the burden of playing quarterback and the difficulty that comes with it as much as the other quarterbacks with what the reality of the NFL will be," Orlovsky said.

That’s what makes it critical that general manager Joe Douglas gets Wilson as much help as possible to give him a chance to flourish in this wide-zone scheme that features plenty of play-action and the quarterback making throws on the run and off-schedule.

"Just as a thrower, some people would take him over Trevor," NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. "Just as a pure thrower from every platform, from every arm angle, he can do some unique things.

"He fits in beautifully into that system. I think Justin and Trey that would add a little twist to that offense. What Zach can do in there is going to be pretty remarkable. He was built to play in that system."

Running backs/Receivers the Jets could target

Travis Etienne, Clemson, RB: Dual-threat back with big-play abilities would be a good fit for new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s system.

Najee Harris, Alabama RB: Big-time playmaker, had 57 career touchdowns at Alabama, including 30 last season – 26 rushing and four receiving.

Elijah Moore, Mississippi, WR: Dynamic playmaker, led the FBS with 10.8 catches and 149.1 receiving yards per game.

Javonte Williams, North Carolina, RB: Either Williams (1,512 scrimmage yards and 22 touchdowns) or his backfield mate Michael Carter (1,445 yards 11 TDs) could help Jets.

Kadarius Toney, Florida, WR: Slot receiver can line up outside and do a little of everything: he had passing, receiving, rushing and punt return touchdowns at Florida.

- Al Iannazzone

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