Offseason pandemic workout descriptions of Zach Wilson have proved prophetic if not downright scary.
Back in the summer, Dave Stroshine, founder of STROformance, an athletic workout facility in Pleasant Grove, explained how the BYU junior quarterback hadn’t missed a workout. And as a personal trainer, he saw Wilson specifically work on his ability to move around the pocket and enhance his game — just be more athletic — like Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.
Around the same time, John Beck, Wilson’s throw coach in Southern California, explained how Wilson was working on his core, that he knew today’s QBs like Mahomes showed how effective it was to be able to make awkward throws, and that by practicing them, he could perfect them.
These two gurus, whom Wilson trusted his career to, are, well, kind of oracles as we now listen to evaluations coming in from NFL draft experts.
ESPN’s Todd McShay now has Wilson the No. 2 pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.
The Draft Network analyst Ryan Fowler agrees: “Some may say Wilson’s rise was due to his feasting on substandard competition. Others argue his style of play won’t last. To those critics, turn on the All-22 film and let me know what you see.
“Wilson has every tool in the shed, and his NFL-ready game will soon rejuvenate an NFL franchise back to relevance.”
Watching Zach Wilson's rise into the top-three QB discussion this past season has been quite enjoyable.— The Draft Network (@TheDraftNetwork) February 11, 2021
If there are any doubters left, @FowlerRyan1 says just put on the tape. He's got all the tools to turn around a franchise.#FrontOffice33 | #NFLDrafthttps://t.co/gcilO9g0fl
Here’s a segment from Stroshine last summer:
“Zach is up to 210 pounds and is in the best shape of his life,” said Stroshine. “He has been strengthening his shoulder after having surgery. He has come in here, but has also spent time with John Beck in California.
“Wilson came in the other day and shared videos of his throwing with Beck, but he also asked me to notice his hops. He’s never been able to jump and run like he’s doing right now. He’s doing windmill dunks,” said Stroshine. “He said in high school he was barely able to get the ball over the rim for a dunk and now he’s windmilling them.
“His arm has never felt better and stronger and he’s been able to develop his athleticism. He’s set a goal to be more able to compete at that position at a level where the game has evolved. I mean the game now is utilizing the talents of Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson in different ways.
“He wants to be one of those kinds of competitors and it’s been fun to watch him work toward getting there,” Stroshine concluded.
And here is a text from Beck to me this fall when I asked how Wilson had transformed since his surgery in the winter of 2020.
“Zach dedicated himself like crazy this offseason to make difficult throws easier,” Beck said. “Those things take time and he put in the work. I think being healthy for the first time gave him time to work on those things. That’s what Zach did in the offseason.”
Flash forward to this week.
Here are some comments from Ryan Clark, a former NFL safety and founder of DB Precision, on an NFL draft panel discussing McShay’s projection of Wilson being the No. 2 pick and the popular comparisons of Wilson to some current NFL superstars.
Clark says teams are not going to wait on Wilson in a draft with other quarterback prospects like Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields — all predicted to go at the top.
“Listen, David Pollock came on this show and he started throwing out names like Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. And I was like, man, Dave is trippin. He needs to start eating some carbs, you know, dude ain’t had carbs in six years and sometimes that can mess with your head,” said Clark. “Now I start looking at this draft and you got four quarterbacks going at the top, we didn’t see them in ’04. We didn’t see three go at the top, and those dudes, Eli Manning (No. 1), Philip Rivers (No. 4), and Ben Roethlisberger (No. 11), and they might be Hall of Famers.
“When we think about Dan Marino and Jim Kelly in that draft with John Elway those guys didn’t go four the top (in the first round), so now I’m really starting to think about if this was the Four Horsemen in the WWE — Trevor Lawrence wouldn’t be Ric Flair, it would be Zach Wilson. Zach Wilson is that dude and so I started to watch some of the things, some of the off-balance throws. You see some of the arm talent, while he’s moving up in the pocket he’s getting outside and throwing back across his body, and now you start to see some of that, some Patrick Mahomes and Aaron (Rodgers).”
And then Clark makes his point.
“And I say to myself, nobody’s gonna want to wait to 10. They’re not going to trade up if you’re Kansas City, nobody’s going to wait to the mid-20s, the way that the Green Bay Packers did for Aaron Rodgers,” Clark said. “So it doesn’t matter that he went to BYU. I don’t think it matters that he has some injury concerns because when you watch this dude play, you understand that he makes plays that other guys in college can’t, and that’s including Trevor Lawrence.
“There’s a play from this season that Daniel Jeremiah posted, where he (Wilson) steps up into the pocket, he throws into double coverage and the football hits his wide receiver in the face mask. Doesn’t that remind you of a dude that just put on a show, even though he was under siege from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line? Zach Wilson is that dude and I think he will go No. 2.”
And there you have it.
Wilson last played in a record-breaking performance in the Boca Raton Bowl in Florida but his film is in the vault.
Now the NFL carnivores are devouring his film.
What they’re seeing is what Beck and Stroshine saw Wilson working on last summer when we were all quarantined and wondering if there was enough toilet paper at Costco.