NFL Draft: Some teams value Zach Wilson over Trevor Lawrence

Zach Wilson, BYU Cougars. (Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY NETWORK)
Zach Wilson, BYU Cougars. (Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY NETWORK) /

Trevor Lawrence will go first overall, but he isn’t QB1 in the eyes of some teams.

Barring a massive surprise, the first-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft will be Trevor Lawrence.

Lawrence has long since been penciled in to be the first name called come April, his pre-draft process effectively coming to an end last week as he put his arm on show for a host of NFL teams before undergoing surgery on a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.

But there are reportedly some front offices who do not have Clemson star Lawrence as the top quarterback in the class, with those franchises favoring Zach Wilson after his spectacular 2020 season with BYU.

Following up from a report from Matt Miller that one team has Wilson over Lawrence on their board, Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting posted on Twitter that multiple teams rank the Cougars signal-caller as the best in class, comparing him to Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray.

It is an eye-raising claim that will be derided by many, though the 2020 numbers indicate it is not the ridiculous assessment it seems on the surface.

Is Zach Wilson in the same class as Trevor Lawrence?

Wilson finished second in the nation in 2020 in adjusted passing yards per attempt (12.6 to Lawrence’s 10.2) and outperformed the presumptive top pick in terms of passing touchdowns (33 to 24) and passing efficiency rating (196.4 to 169.2).

Their skillsets are comparable, both are exceptionally accurate throwers who process information quickly, can push the ball downfield with outstanding placement and can make throws on the run that are beyond the realm of most quarterbacks.

But what has to be taken into account is the level of competition. BYU, due to schedule changes enforced by the public health crisis, did not play a Power 5 team in 2020. Lawrence also enjoyed more consistent success over his three-year college career, with Wilson having made the leap this past season after an injury-affected 2019.

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The comparison between the two is largely moot given Lawrence’s status as a lock for the No. 1 pick. However, talk of teams preferring Wilson is instructive of how highly the NFL thinks of what he did for BYU in 2020 and suggests he has a strong chance to quickly follow Lawrence off the board as the second overall pick.