National Football League

Is Zach Wilson a better quarterback prospect than Trevor Lawrence?

March 9

For the past three seasons, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft has seemed like a forgone conclusion.

Since leading the Clemson Tigers to their second national championship as a true freshman in 2019, Trevor Lawrence has been pegged as not only the top quarterback in his draft class but also the top prospect overall.

But as April 29 draws closer, there has been a growing belief that a different quarterback prospect warrants examination as the top prospect in the draft: BYU junior Zach Wilson.

That conversation increased a decibel last week, when former NFL quarterback-turned-analyst Chris Simms said not only that Wilson is the best quarterback prospect in this class but also that it isn't a debate.

"Zach Wilson is clearly the No. 1 quarterback in the draft for me. There is some separation. Zach Wilson is a really, really special football player from every aspect and angle. The only negative I can come up with here is that I wish he was a little thicker and bigger."

After two solid but unspectacular seasons as a freshman and sophomore at BYU, Wilson broke out as a junior, throwing for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

He also showed elite accuracy as a passer, completing 73.5% of his passes.

Simms' co-signing Wilson might bode well for the QB's future because when Simms speaks on a quarterback prospect, it's usually best to listen.

FOX Sports senior national writer Peter Schrager broke down Simms' track record of predicting success at the NFL level for quarterbacks who were not seen as elite prospects.

"Chris was in on Lamar Jackson when everyone was like, 'He's not an NFL quarterback.' Chris said he was the No. 1 quarterback in his draft class. He was in on [Patrick] Mahomes a year before that. When he says that he thinks that Zach Wilson is above Trevor Lawrence, that certainly makes the Jets' No. 2 pick even more valuable."

But there is still Lawrence.

After winning the championship in his freshman season, Lawrence took Clemson back to the national title game in 2020 and the College Football Playoff in 2021, all while throwing 90 touchdowns and only 17 interceptions in three seasons as a starter.

Colin Cowherd believes that because of his immense success, Lawrence has fallen victim to his own consistency and accolades at the collegiate level, which he explained on "The Herd."

"One is a prodigy. One is a prospect. And Zach Wilson could be a great prospect, but he's a prospect. ... Nick Saban had six weeks to prepare for true freshman Trevor Lawrence, six weeks for the greatest college coach ever. And Trevor Lawrence at 18 ate him alive. That's a prodigy — ate him alive to win the national championship."

To that point, the team with the first overall pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars, seems to still have its eyes set firmly on Lawrence, if comments from recently hired head coach Urban Meyer after Lawrence's sterling Pro Day are any indication.

"We had extremely high expectations, and we were not disappointed," Meyer said.

"But even more than the actual Pro Day was the way he handled it. We found out just days earlier about his left shoulder, that he had a labrum issue that’s very fixable — and by the way, it is fixed. He’s in rehab now. He very well could have said, ‘I’m not going to throw. I’m going to go, and you guys take me or not. I’m that good.’"

It seems that in the month-and-a-half remaining before the NFL Draft, the conversation about the top quarterback prospect will only intensify, with both players' games being picked apart.

Let the debate rage on.


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