Zach Wilson is going from BYU to NYC, shouldering enormous Big Apple expectations with the New York Jets.
Wilson was selected as the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night after being linked to the Jets for the last few months. He’s now the blond, blue-eyed face of a frustrated franchise that has gone 10 seasons without making the playoffs – and 52 without reaching the Super Bowl.
“There’s not another team I’d want to play for besides the Jets,” Wilson said on NFL Network shortly after being drafted. “We’re going to be a special team. We’re going for the Super Bowl.”
The 6-foot-2, 214-pound Wilson made a massive jump in his development – and on teams’ draft lists – while throwing for 3,692 yards with 33 touchdown passes and just three interceptions last season for BYU. He also broke Steve Young’s school record for completion percentage with an eye-popping mark of 73.5%.
New York gave Wilson an athletic and strong protector up front when it traded with Minnesota to move up from No. 23 to No. 14 and took USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker, considered by many the best interior offensive lineman in the draft. The Jets also sent two third-rounders (Nos. 66 and 86) to the Vikings for a fourth-rounder (No. 143).
The 6-4 1/2, 308-pound Vera-Tucker is expected to play left guard, where he was a standout as a sophomore before moving to left tackle last season. He will team with left tackle Mekhi Becton, the Jets’ first-rounder last year, on New York’s young, new-look left side of the line.
The Jets have been fruitlessly searching for decades for a quarterback to emerge from the massive shadow of Joe Namath, who led the franchise to its only Super Bowl in 1969. There have been flashes of individual and team success from several players under center since. But none has produced consistent enough results to solve the team’s seemingly endless quarterback quandary.
Since Namath was taken in the first round of the AFL draft in 1965, the Jets have used their first selection in the NFL draft on a quarterback six times: Richard Todd (1976), Ken O’Brien (1983), Chad Pennington (2000), Mark Sanchez (2009), Sam Darnold (2018) – and now Wilson.
And the Jets and their fans are hoping the former BYU star is finally the answer.
Meanwhile, the New York Giants traded down in the first round of the draft for the first time in 15 years and still found help for quarterback Daniel Jones, taking Florida wide receiver Kadarius Tony on Thursday night with the 20th pick overall.
The Giants’ deal with the Chicago Bears came right after Philadelphia and Dallas swapped the 10th and 12th picks. The Eagles took Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, the Alabama wide receiver who many predicted would be taken by New York.
In making the trade, the Giants picked up the Bears’ first-round choice this year and next, a fifth-round pick this year and a fourth-rounder in 2022. Chicago picked Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
Toney, who can change direction at top speed, is more versatile than polished as a receiver. He was a dual-threat quarterback during his final two seasons of high school. He had 70 catches for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns this past season.
The last time the Giants made a trade in the first round was with Pittsburgh in 2006. New York dropped from 25 to 32 and selected Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who was part of two Super Bowl championship teams with New York.
It also marked the first time Dave Gettleman has traded down as a general manager.
“I’ve tried in the past,” the 70-year-old executive said in a pre-draft conference call last week. “Honest, I’ve tried to trade back, but it’s got to be value. I’m not getting fleeced. I refuse to do it.”
The Giants were among the most aggressive teams during free agency last month, signing 16 players. The big money was spent on playmaking wide receiver Kenny Golladay and cornerback Adoree Jackson.
New York created cap space by releasing guard Kevin Zeitler and receiver Golden Tate and renegotiating a couple contracts, most notably that of tackle tackle Nate Solder, who opted out last season.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
Copyright © 2021 . All Rights Reserved.