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Why the praise, accolades for Zach Wilson continue unabated

The hype over the former BYU quarterback’s NFL prospects has taken on a life of its own

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Quarterback Zach Wilson warms up during BYU’s pro day in Provo on Friday, March 26, 2021. Wilson is projected to go early in the first round of the NFL draft, perhaps No. 2 overall to the New York Jets.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Sorry, Jason Ah You. All that impressive work you and your gang did to stage a top-drawer BYU pro day didn’t really matter to most of the NFL media herd.

With or without that day, the horde already had what was needed to create layer upon layer of Zach Wilson hype: They had film.

The Wilson hype machine has become an organic phenomenon this winter and spring.

The media pack, and throw a multitude of NFL scouts into that swarm, have been on Wilson like bees on honey.

It’s a sweet anthem for BYU fans and fingernails on the blackboard for haters.

But it’s there.

It’s only getting louder and more frequent.

It isn’t going away.

And leading up to the NFL draft, it’s going to get higher and louder and thicker.

The latest comes from ESPN NFL insider Field Yates, whose breakdown of Wilson was pure saccharine.

Well, he does fiddle in fantasy football. But his report of Wilson is still sugar.

Yates doesn’t do contract work for BYU’s depleted sports information machine, still reeling from fall layoffs.

He’s works for the biggest sports voice in the game.

Yates starts his TV segment, now on YouTube, with a script that begins: “So, sometimes when the pocket breaks down or the first read is unavailable, I need a quarterback to simply make a play and Zach Wilson is the most exciting playmaker prospect of the quarterback position in the 2021 NFL draft.”

Yates then sets up his film break with this Wilson anthem:

“Wilson’s rise was meteoric during the 2020 season as the 21-year-old true junior tripled his touchdown passes from the year before, from 11 to 33, while throwing just one-third of the interceptions, down from nine to three. 

“He has an unquestioned electricity to him that takes just a handful of plays to discover. Wilson displays an array of creativity inside and outside of the pocket, a fearlessness to let the ball rip down the field, of willingness, extend a play, fight for more, and the athletic ability to make this all happen.”

The report by Yates isn’t couched in what-ifs or what he didn’t see Wilson go against. It was more of a bucket of upbeat praise for his skill, acumen and talent. He claims, like others, it just jumps out of the game film. Like you might be an idiot if you can’t see it.

Said Yates, “Occasional pre-draft comparisons to Patrick Mahomes are unfair to Wilson because comparing any prospect to a player like Patrick Mahomes is unfair. That’s just how special Patrick Mahomes is, but there were plays in Wilson’s college career where a near sack turned into an offensive highlight.  

“The learning curve for him will be steep. He will need to be a more consistent decision-maker, and he’s got room to grow on his frame, but with an unwavering confidence, and an ability to make something out of nothing to lose is his upside.”

As evidence, Yates uses a myriad of plays to show quick resets by Wilson when flushed from the pocket and accurately completing downfield passes. 

He uses film of Wilson against USC running for a huge gain, pulling up after a pocket breakdown and firing a dart to a covered target. 

He showed that touchdown from this past fall where Wilson ran to his right and without a complete setup, fired a 60-yard touchdown pass to Dax Milne. Another play was a dart thrown down the sideline for a touchdown to tight end Isaac Rex that hit the big man in stride.

He kind of reviews it like a video game routine. And in 2020 for Wilson it kind of was.

No, Ah You, all that work you and your committee did for staging that remarkable first-class pro day back in March graded out as an A.

But for Wilson, it wasn’t necessary.

He already had a video library.

And many folks breaking it all down are coming to many of the same conclusions.

Wilson made his case to be QB1 or QB2.

Others are then confirming his body of work, regardless of the competition.