Recently, Zach Wilson has had to overcome not only proving he is a franchise quarterback, but also why he is not the next Johnny Manziel.
It is fair to say that Zach Wilson came from nowhere in 2020 to become one of the NFL’s top prospects. He exploded onto the scene, passing for over 300 yards per game and 33 touchdowns. This was in addition to throwing only THREE interceptions all season long!
Wilson made BYU relevant in 2020 and lead them to several blowout wins. However, looking at his previous college experience, it was easy to see why some people were skeptical. In 2019, Wilson completed just over 62% of his passes and only threw 11 touchdowns to nine picks.
While he is 6’2″, Wilson never seemed to display that frame and size in-game. Often, he looked small in the pocket and that is a struggle that does not translate well in the NFL. Taken over other young stars Trey Lance and Justin Fields, it was reasonable to question if Wilson would have much success as a rookie.
In fact, those exact concerns were some of the causes of a rocky training camp. Popular analyst Colin Cowherd made the bold comparison between the unproven Wilson and the infamous Johnny Manziel. After two ugly interceptions at their Green and White scrimmage, there were reports that Jets personnel were unhappy about the selection.
Ever since the start of the NFL preseason, Zach Wilson has made naysayers eat their words. In his debut, Wilson was eased into the action, given easy assignments and open reads. However, he made the most of those opportunities, going 6-for-9 with 63 yards.
More importantly, he showed off the big arm and quick decision-making. While the Manziel comparison was unfair from the start, Wilson’s ability to make a quick read and rifle in a pass sets him apart.
His second appearance is where we got to see what Zach Wilson can really become. Completing nine of his 11 passes, Wilson embarrassed the Packers’ defense. He showed his zip off again as he picked apart their zone coverages. His decision-making also impressed again, as he consistently gave his receivers room to make the play.
Perhaps most importantly, his perceived shortcomings in size did not seem to affect him at all. While he still appears smaller in the pocket, he never failed to make the tough throws over 6’7″ Becton, 6’6″ Moses, and 6’5″ Vera-Tucker. He hung in the pocket confidently and looked like a seasoned pro.
Why Zach Wilson Will Never Be Johnny Manziel
While Colin Cowherd is an educated and entertaining analyst, he could not have been more wrong in this comparison. Wilson displays all of the on-field skills that Manziel struggled with. Additionally, he brings none of the off-field baggage that derailed Manziel’s NFL career.
He has never been perceived as cocky or arrogant, and in fact, has displayed his humility on multiple occasions. Perhaps the most telling difference is the lack of legal troubles surrounding Wilson.
Even if Wilson never lives up to the standards of a number two overall pick, it certainly will not be under the route of Manziel. He looks competent in action and brings a level of maturity and composure that Money Manziel never could.
Wilson may not look big in-game, but he does have two inches on Manziel and it shows. I guess that Cowherd jumped onto the train of kicking Wilson while he was down, and made a lazy and hurtful comparison.