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Where Zach Wilson lands in re-rankings of the 2021 NFL QB rookie class

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New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson throws a pass during the first half against the Buffalo Bills.

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard park, N.Y., Sunday Jan. 9, 2022.

Jeffrey T. Barnes, Associated Press

The 2021 NFL season was anything but smooth for New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson.

The former BYU and Corner Canyon High star struggled much of the year, while showing flashes of his ability at times for a New York team that was lacking quality depth and health at several key positions.

Still, Wilson showed some glimpses, particularly toward the end of the season, to give fans hope his NFL career can be successful.

So, how does Wilson stack up his fellow rookie quarterback class after one year?

Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner re-ranked the top quarterbacks from the 2021 class, and Wilson took a dip.

Re-ranking the 2021 NFL rookie quarterback class

Here’s how the top rookie QBs ranked on PFF’s pre-draft big board:

  1. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence (No. 1 overall, selected No. 1 overall by Jacksonville Jaguars).
  2. Wilson (No. 2, selected No. 2 overall by the Jets).
  3. Justin Fields (No. 3, selected No. 11 overall by Chicago Bears).
  4. Trey Lance (No. 10, selected No. 3 overall by San Francisco 49ers).
  5. Mac Jones (No. 14, selected No. 15 overall by New England Patriots).
  6. Kyle Trask (No. 64, selected No. 64 overall by Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
  7. Davis Mills (No. 81, selected No. 67 overall by Houston Texans).
  8. Kellen Mond (No. 84, selected No. 66 by Minnesota Vikings).

And here’s how they landed in Renner’s re-rankings:

  1. Lawrence.
  2. Jones.
  3. Fields.
  4. Lance.
  5. Wilson.
  6. Mills.

Assessing Zach Wilson

Renner had this to say about Wilson:

Wilson’s fall is emblematic of two things: 1. How close this QB class was to begin with; 2. How ugly his rookie season was. It’s definitely not an apples-to-apples comparison, though — Wilson was playing without his franchise left tackle all season, and Braxton Berrios was his de facto top receiver by the end of the year. With Wilson, you saw the tremendous arm talent, and you saw it repeatedly. His ability to make plays out of structure was truly jaw-dropping at times. The problem is that that’s where nearly all his impressive plays came. A distinct lack of confidence marred his play from the pocket. But, again, it’s impossible to measure how much of that is due to the offensive line in front of him and the lack of playmakers on the outside. Wilson’s near-upset win against the Bucs in Week 17 was about the only full game in which he looked confident playing in the rhythm of the offense. This ranking isn’t writing him off by any means; it’s simply saying others flashed more frequently.

A look at Wilson’s season overall

Wilson had a 3-10 record as starting quarterback for the Jets this season, and he finished the year completing 55.6% of his passes for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions while missing three games due to a midseason injury.

Over his final five games, though, Wilson did not throw an interception while tossing three touchdowns. He also had four rushing touchdowns on the year, including two in the final five games.

How Wilson fared against Trevor Lawrence

In assessing No. 1 Lawrence, Renner said, “The former No. 1 overall pick showed more high-end quarterbacking plays than anyone else in the rookie class by some margin. He avoided sacks well and made plays inside and outside of structure.”

Wilson and Lawrence faced each other in Week 16, the only time Wilson faced another rookie QB all year. On that day, Wilson got the better of Lawrence in a 26-21 Jets win.

Lawrence threw for more passing yards (298) while completing 26 of 39 passes, and he also rushed for 37 yards on six carries.

Wilson, though, accounted for a pair of touchdowns — one rushing (a 52-yarder) and one passing. He completed 14 of 22 passes for 104 yards, while rushing for 91 yards on four carries.

Wilson also had the edge in turnovers: he had none, while Lawrence lost a fumble.