The top two picks were no surprise during the 2021 NFL Draft as Trevor Lawrence went No. 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Zach Wilson went No. 2 to the New York Jets. The Jets will hope their seemingly never-ending quest to find a franchise quarterback is over, but what can fans and bettors expect from Wilson as a rookie?
Oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook listed an over/under on Wilson’s passing yards in Year 1 at 3,800.5 for the 2021 season. For context, 10 quarterbacks accomplished that feat in the 2020 season, including rookie Justin Herbert. However, in NFL history, only four rookies have surpassed that number — Herbert in 2020, Andrew Luck in 2012, Cam Newton in 2011, James Winston in 2015.
While the Jets are impressed with his skill set and he projects to be a difference maker at the next level, oftentimes a quarterback’s success can be determined by the players around him.
Wilson will not have an elite group of pass catchers heading into the offseason workout program. Jamison Crowder had the most receiving yards on the team last season with 699, but there’s a chance he gets cut depending on how well second round draft pick Elijah Moore is able to adjust to the professional level. The Jets brought in Corey Davis, who had 984 receiving yards last season with the Tennessee Titans. If Denzel Mims can break out in Year 2, this could turn into a quality receiver group.
The Jets had among the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season according to Pro Football Focus, so this is an area that will absolutely need to improve for Wilson to have success both in the short term and long term in his development as a pro. New York traded up for offensive tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker with the No. 14 pick in the draft to go along with Mekhi Becton, who was picked in the first round of the 2020 draft.
Wilson is undoubtedly going to be the starter in Week 1, but the Jets could really use a veteran backup quarterback to help him. As of now, New York does not have a QB on the roster who has ever taken a snap at the NFL level. Adding a player with some experience should be a priority for the Jets as they get closer to training camp.
Wilson has the potential to be a difference maker in the NFL, but it’s likely not going to come in Year 1. If last season’s results remain similar, Wilson will likely need to be better than half of the starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Even as the No. 2 overall pick, that’s pretty difficult to do as a rookie. Even with what should be an improved offensive line and better pass catchers, we’re going with the under on 3,800.5 passing yards in Year 1.
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