SALT LAKE CITY — As BYU quarterback Zach Wilson has gotten off to a blazing start this season, chatter about his NFL potential has grown louder, and on Tuesday he received a particularly noteworthy endorsement.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., who has covered the NFL draft for more than 35 years, released a list of his top five quarterback prospects for the 2021 draft, and Wilson came in at No. 5.

In the preseason, Kiper Jr. predicted that three signal-callers will be taken in the top 10 in 2021, and that trio of Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance did not change on Tuesday’s list, but the bottom two did. Florida’s Kyle Trask replaced Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger at No. 4, and Wilson replaced Iowa State’s Brock Purdy at No. 5.

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Kiper Jr. made special mention of Trask and Wilson, calling Trask the “biggest riser” of the group, and saying Wilson is a “guy you better get to know now.”

“It’s early, and he is only a true junior, but Wilson has really impressed me so far. He looks completely healthy following the shoulder surgery he had in early 2019,” Kiper Jr. wrote. “That setback led to a bumpy season a year ago, as he was reckless at times and held the ball too long, resulting in mistakes (nine interceptions and too many off-target throws).”

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Kiper Jr. noted Wilson’s the eye-popping 85% completion percentage among other notable numbers and wrote, “He’s on fire. Wilson has added weight and strength to his 6-3 frame, and he is sensing pressure well, manipulating the pocket and showing off his arm. He throws a great ball. Again, Wilson could stay in school and enter the 2022 draft, but he is a legit prospect.”

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