Zach Wilson's Draft Situation Compared to Patrick Mahomes' in 2017 by NFL Coach

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 21, 2021

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson warms up before participating in the school's pro day  football workout for NFL scouts Friday, March 26, 2021, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Zach Wilson is seemingly a lock to be the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, and at least one coach compares his college career to that of Patrick Mahomes coming out of Texas Tech.

Per Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, an anonymous NFL quarterbacks coach said:

"People think now about Mahomes as the Super Bowl-winning quarterback and how great he is now, but coming out of Texas Tech, he was not this surefire guy. He was uber-talented arm-wise, and he does a lot of stuff that is really sexy now, but he threw a lot of bad picks, and his decision-making, I thought, was really inconsistent. With Wilson, you see a lot of, 'Why would you even try that?'"

After two pedestrian years at BYU in which he threw for 3,960 yards with 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 18 games from 2018-19, Wilson broke out last season with 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions in 12 starts.

In hindsight, Mahomes was clearly the best quarterback in the 2017 class. He's arguably the greatest player to be drafted, regardless of position, in at least the past 10 years.

Coming out of college, though, there were serious questions about what Mahomes could do at the professional level. He had great stats at Texas Tech with 9,705 passing yards, 77 touchdowns and 25 interceptions from 2015-16, but it came in a system where every quarterback put up big numbers.

ESPN's Jeff Legwold had Mahomes ranked as the 52nd-best prospect in the 2017 draft.

"For some observers, Mahomes' power arm has him at the top of the QB list," Legwold wrote. "He threw 77 touchdown passes the past two seasons combined, but his accuracy wavers when he can't match his delivery to the throw required. An impatient team will impede his development."

Mahomes found a perfect situation with the Kansas City Chiefs. He didn't have to play as a rookie because Alex Smith was the starter. Head coach Andy Reid is one of the best offensive minds in the NFL. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are two of the best players in the league at their positions.

Now, Mahomes has clearly transformed his game and elevated the Chiefs to being a superpower that has played in three straight AFC Championship Games and two straight Super Bowls (with one win).

Wilson, assuming he ends up going to the Jets at No. 2, won't be afforded the same luxuries. New York's collection of skill-position talent isn't close to being what Kansas City had when Mahomes took over in 2018. Head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur are entering their first season in those roles with an NFL team.

This doesn't mean that Wilson can't become a great quarterback, but his path to success will likely take time as the Jets continue to build a roster around him.