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Chris Simms defends why he likes BYU’s Zach Wilson over Trevor Lawrence

Veteran NFL analyst explains to national pundit Dan Patrick why the former Cougar signal-caller is better than the Clemson QB heading into this year’s NFL draft

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (1) delivers a pass as BYU and Boise State play a college football game at Albertsons Stadium in Boise on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020.
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson delivers a pass as BYU and Boise State play at Albertsons Stadium in Boise on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Wilson effect is slopping over the tub now.

NFL draft analyst and quarterback expert Chris Simms blew Zach Wilson up on the “Dan Patrick Show” Thursday. Simms reasserted and defended his declaration that the BYU junior is better than Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and more polished for the NFL than any QB in the 2021 draft.

Simms, a former QB for the Buccaneers, Broncos and Titans, didn’t stutter, didn’t mince words and didn’t flinch under Patrick’s questioning of his observation, including bringing up BYU’s loss with Wilson at Coastal Carolina.

It was bold, clear and unvarnished praise for Wilson’s skill level.

Simms said he took a nitty-gritty look at all the top college quarterbacks — Wilson, Lawrence, Justin Fields and Trey Lance — and all have elite traits and could be first-round-type talent except for Lance. He also acknowledged that he is getting beat up big-time for what he’s saying about Wilson, really taking heat.

Patrick put it direct to Simms: “What does Zach Wilson do better than Trevor Lawrence?”

Simms answered without hesitation.

“I’m blown away by Zach Wilson, Dan. You know I look at it, and look at, and say this is an Aaron Rodgers, a Patrick MaHomes, Brett Favre-ish type guy,” said Simms.

“He’s a more consistent, bull’s-eye, dead-eye thrower, I mean you know I love Trevor Lawrence. He’s worthy of the No. 1 pick. I know I’m getting a lot of crap about that. I’m not trying to make this about, ‘Oh, he’s not good.’ There’s a lot to love about him. But Zach Wilson, it’s just every ball is a perfect spiral (and) on the money; all the plays that are there to be had for ease and completions he really never misses, and it’s the plays when there’s nothing there that he is really special and able to create and buy time and make unbelievable plays with his arm.

“And his ability to deliver the ball in magician-like ways, like a Mahomes or an Aaron Rodgers.”

Patrick came back, hitting Simms with BYU’s only loss, the quick, midweek prep flight across the country to play Coastal Carolina and his concern that Wilson was frustrated and showed some emotion and didn’t play well.

Simms’ comeback led off with how he agreed Wilson was a little off that game. He didn’t know all the ins and outs of why, but the performance didn’t ding him as far as Simms is concerned.

“I’m just trying to evaluate what I see on the football field, and even in that game, which was his worst game of the year, it still was really damn good. He made some throws that (BYU) had some drops.”

And there was the one play where a BYU receiver ran backward and lost a lot of yardage, which was not on Wilson.

Simms then shot down the “competition” argument against Wilson, which some critics have floated regularly since the season ended.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence passes against LSU during the College Football Playoff national championship game in New Orleans on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. A debate has arisen about which QB, Lawrence or BYU’s Zach Wilson, is the more NFL-ready quarterback.
Gerald Herbert, Associated Press

“I understand Coastal Carolina and (how) it’s not Alabama, but he also doesn’t have Clemson and Alabama’s offense and things to help him out the same way.

“We have to remember that. So, you know, the competition thing. I hear that a lot of, ‘Well it’s not the same competition.’ I understand that, but Trevor Lawrence got to step on the field in every game in the ACC and they were clearly the better team, it’s not even close. So there are some benefits to having that as well.

“And, you know, throwing into tight coverages or throwing under pressure? I don’t really care what level that is. ... ‘Oh, he’s open by an inch, man the guy hits the target. Oh, it’s a tight window.’ He (Wilson) hits the target and he’ll adjust accordingly. Yes, the speed might be different in the NFL. Of course it’ll be greater, and all those things, but you know, the Phil Simms, the Josh Allens, the Joe Flaccos and the Terry Bradshaws of the world, they came from schools like that and ended up doing OK, so I don’t go too crazy with that aspect all the time.”

So, what is Lawrence missing?

Simms said it was refinement and consistency, which are two traits he said Wilson displays.

“Again, he’s (Lawrence) is an awesome prospect, like I said, definitely worthy of the No. 1 pick. I just think Zach Wilson’s is a ready-to-go NFL system superstar right now.”

If you get the feeling Simms has taken heat for being so high on Wilson, you’d be right.

If you hear him defend that opinion, his passion for Wilson as the best QB in the draft, it is more elevated every time he speaks.