The Jets’ quarterback plan became more focused on Friday through developments in Utah, California and Pennsylvania.
A contingent of the Jets consisting of general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur watched BYU quarterback Zach Wilson pitch over a covered home field in Provo, Utah, as part of the school professional day. Wilson is the favorite to be the team’s second overall pick and did nothing to change that perception in his pitching session.
The biggest clues came from what other teams possibly did in the quarterback market Friday afternoon. First, the 49ers negotiated with the Dolphins for a promotion to No. 3 in the 2021 NFL Draft next month. The assumption is that the 49ers are moving to select a quarterback.
ESPN reported that the 49ers and Jets were not involved in any trade negotiations, but that may be because the 49ers already knew that the Jets are determined to take Wilson.
The 49ers and Jets also have close ties to their coaching staff, with Saleh and LaFleur coming from the 49ers. The 49ers most likely know what the Jets are thinking of No. 2 and made the trade knowing which quarterbacks will be available at No. 3. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is expected to be No. 1 overall for the Jaguars. . Urban Meyer did not attend Wilson’s professional day, another indication that Lawrence is the kid from Jacksonville.
The other trade that occurred on Friday was the Eagles downgrading from No. 6 to No. 12 in a trade with the Dolphins, who sent a just-received pick from San Francisco to Philadelphia. NFL Network reported that the Eagles had an interest in ascending to No. 3, but only for Wilson. Their decision to then return indicates that they know Wilson will be the No. 2. Douglas worked for the Eagles for three years before being signed by the Jets.
All this connection of points leads to one conclusion: The Jets will select Wilson No. 2 overall next month and trade Sam Darnold, unless something really unexpected happens.
The Jets first saw Wilson in person on Friday. He threw around 70 passes during the session and did not disappoint. He made some beautiful throws, one that stood out was a deep pass to his right while rolling to the left that demonstrated remarkable arm strength.
“The goal today was to show what makes me different, the kinds of throws I can do that I feel like other guys don’t practice and don’t try to do,” Wilson said in an interview with Zoom afterward. “That was the objective of today to show what makes me different.”
NFL Network showed Wilson and Douglas chatting after their pitching session. Wilson said he’s already spoken to the Jets through Zoom and likes the staff.
“Excellent staff, I love those guys. Joe Douglas is a great guy, “said Wilson. “It was good to see you here. They have something good. My Zoom interactions with them have been like any other team, just trying to get through and they just trying to pick your brain, see what it’s about, the way you process things, and all that kind of stuff. It has been well.”
Wilson said he has family in the New York area and has been here several times. He said he would be happy to join the team that chooses 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 stats were not better in the previous two years.
The 21-year-old did not do any of the pro day exercises because he said he injured a hamstring a few weeks ago. However, the teams weren’t there to see him run the 40-yard dash. They wanted to see him pitch and he put on a good display.
“Something that I feel separates me is just my passion for the game,” Wilson said. “I really spend a lot of time doing what I do. Through all these years and stuff, I’ve really only dedicated my life to soccer. It’s crazy, you know, when people ask me what I do outside of football, football is really my life. It’s like everything I have. ”