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Is Zach Wilson better than Trevor Lawrence? Expert breaks it down

BYU quarterback is turning heads of pre-draft experts and climbing in the grades

Quarterback Zach Wilson looks to pass during BYU football practice in Provo on Friday, March 6, 2020.
Quarterback Zach Wilson looks to pass during BYU football practice in Provo on Friday, March 6, 2020.
Deseret News, Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Is Zach Wilson better than Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence?

Some will say emphatically, heck no. Others may say, “What planet did that come from?”

And then, just this past week, there are experts who are throwing it out there, that maybe Wilson is better than Lawrence.

All this Wilson chatter landed BYU coach Kalani Sitake on the NFL Network, describing Wilson’s skills, which he’s witnessed since Wilson was just a kid and saw every day in practice. “He’s got that ‘it’ factor a lot of people talk about,” Sitake told the interviewer.

As the week rolled on, Matt Miller of The Draft Scout, tweeted out that he’d heard from NFL scouts that Wilson had climbed up draft boards and was pushing Lawrence as QB1. Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting, reported he had heard from multiple NFL scouts that this was the case.

Many are taking their lead off Fox Sports analyst Mark Schlereth’s comments that he was more impressed with Wilson than Lawrence after looking at the film.

Schlereth played 12 seasons in the NFL as a guard for Washington and the Denver Broncos. He also does the popular “Stinkin Truth” podcast with Mike Evans.

Many NFL experts quote an @NFLdraftscout report on Wilson that the Cougar has risen to Lawrence’s tier.

That report reads: “What he does as a thrower, and as a runner, is exactly where we are as a league right now. He throws some of those 50/50 balls with his shoulders square to the defense after running around in the pocket and I’m seeing Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech all over again.”

Schlereth takes his observations deeper, pointing out that critics dump on Wilson’s 2020 competition. Schlereth said that should go both ways. He asks, who was Wilson throwing to? And what takes more skill: Lawrence throwing to receivers who had seven steps on defenders, or Wilson, who completed passes to covered targets?

“I’m not so sure that I wouldn’t take Zach Wilson over Trevor Lawrence. Dude, his live arm, compact throwing mechanics, and unbelievable feet in the pocket. (It’s) just the balance, the quickness to set the foot energy (that) becomes ball velocity out of his hand,” said Schlereth.

“They’re just clips, understand. Here’s one of the things I like. All his throws, a bunch of deep throws, covered. Throwing to dudes open, covered. Tight windows, accuracy, ball placement, touch, velocity, all that, and I’m talking about a BYU receivers guys (with a defender) in their hip pocket. There wasn’t, ‘Hey, here’s the throw’ and the guy’s got seven yards of separation, Uh, uh. I mean I’m talking about down the sideline 35 yards in a milk carton window, bam, complete. Again, his athleticism, his footwork, all that stuff. I was really impressed.”

Schlereth was even more detailed in his comparison on his podcast, saying he watched Lawrence’s pro day and he wasn’t all that impressed. Wilson’s pro day will be March 26.

Said Schlereth of Wilson’s film: “I loved his foot energy. Like, he is so quick. In his drops he’s so quick, has a great base in that that foot energy and base becomes rotational power. And you can see how wide his arm is, and a lot of that comes from the way his base is. His feet are so quick. His base is so good.

“He definitely has a hose, I mean definitely can sling it. He’s got great touch. I just was really impressed, he just looks the part. A lot of people will look at you and say, ‘Well lesser competition’ or whatever. Well, part of lesser competitions you have lesser guys you’re throwing to than you do at Clemson or Ohio State.

“I’m calling (it) tight-window throws downfield, throws that require touch, that require accuracy, velocity. I mean, he has thrown it into coverage, he’s throwing covered guys open. He’s making, in my estimation, the throws that I see in the NFL that you normally don’t see in week to weekend competition in college football, where guys are open. I mean I saw a bunch of Trevor Lawrence highlights where guys were seven yards beyond the guy covering them, right? These (Wilson completions) are all shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, like unbelievably tight window throws.”

This is an interesting phenomenon developing for Wilson’s case in the offseason. As so-called experts start picking over film, breaking down nuances, they’re seeing minute details about his game that make sense at the next level.

A year ago, Wilson was barely on the radar, with nice wins over USC and Tennessee.

In the span of eight months, he’s being compared with Lawrence, a superstar athlete with season after season of praise on a national stage every time he trotted out on the field.

Not bad for the guy from Corner Canyon High.