The popular saying is that you can’t complete an assessment of a rookie until they’ve had at least three years in the league. While I largely agree with that, I don’t think there’s any harm in comparing our rookies to their peers, so other rookies who are starting in this league.
It’s important to remember that every situation is different, their performance will be based on a number of factors that can’t all be captured and calculated within a statistical table. I’ll also be using numbers from PFF, so if you dislike their grading system then I’d look away now.
I accept and often point out the flaws in the system, but when comparing our players to other rookies, I need a reference point and while I’d love to watch every game, my wife would almost certainly divorce me, especially considering the look she gave me over dinner as I explained that the Knicks season starts tonight (well pre-season).
Take this for what it’s designed to be, a little bit of fun with some base comparison stats. I will be using a minimum snap cut-off, so if a guy’s only been out there for 10 snaps, don’t expect to see him in here.
Today I’m going to be looking at Zach Wilson in comparison to Davis Mills, Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields.
Round 1: Zach Wilson, QB
QB Rookie Comparison
Just looking at the raw stats, it doesn’t look that good. Again you take it with a pinch of salt, we know that there have been protection issues with Zach and It’s clear there have been some protection issues elsewhere as well. There are a couple of points to make on here though.
Zach Wilson has been hurt more than any QB by his supporting cast. He has been pressured the most, sacked the most and has experienced 14 drops by his receivers, the next closest is Trevor Lawrence with 8.
Mac Jones has performed well and the Patriots have game-planned to his skill-set. His average depth of target sits at 7.7 which is significantly lower than Zach Wilson, Davis Mills, Trevor Lawrence (9.4) and Justin Fields (9.9). Then again his 2.7% turnover worthy throw rate is the lowest of everyone.
Looking at the completion percentage isn’t attractive unless you’re the New England Patriots and Mac Jones, but if you look at the differential between the completion % and the adjusted completion % (throws that were actually on target), it makes for better reading. Zach Wilson may only be completing 56.8% of his throws, but his adjusted completion percentage is 71%, a huge difference. That’s the highest differential of any QB:
Mac Jones: +7.6% adjusted completion
Justin Fields: +5.0% adjusted completion
Trevor Lawrence: +10.9% adjusted completion
Davis Mills: +10.0% adjusted completion
Next I had a look at deep passing. After witnessing this weekend’s action I thought I’d see if the other QB’s in the class were slinging it with as much style as Zach is.
incredible work from the skycam here pic.twitter.com/m4k0x9sv7t— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 4, 2021
The answer is...not really. Zach Wilson has attempted 19 passes of 20 or more yards through the first four games and has completed 11 of them, giving him a deep ball completion rate of 57.9%. That’s higher than Fields, higher than Lawrence and significantly higher than the 23.5% completion rate that Mac Jones has put on the table (17 attempts, 4 completions). Mac Jones short-range completion (0-9 yards) leads the pack at 81.4% with Wilson lagging behind at 69.4%.
Nobody has attempted more screen passes than Mac Jones (17) with the passing yards as a result of screen passes low across the board. Mac Jones again leads here with 69 yards, while Zach Wilson has less than half that with 33.
Last week Greg Van Roten said that Zach needed to learn to get rid of the ball quicker. While there is an element of truth to that, I question whether a press conference was the right time to bring it up, considering Van Roten is on for a career year in terms of sacks and pressures allowed.
I thought I’d have a look at the stats to see how many sacks have been attributed to Wilson in comparison to other QB’s and how many pressures have been attributed to him too.
Wilson does lead the rookie QB’s in sacks allowed due to his own play, with 6 of the sacks next to his name. That’s one more than Davis Mills and double that of Justin Fields (3), while Mac Jones has only been culpable for just the one sack. Wilson also leads the pack in being responsible for the most pressures (10), in comparison to 8 for Lawrence, 5 for Mills and 4 each for Jones and Fields.
(Just a note for GVR, 31.0% of pressures rests on his shoulder, that’s the highest on the Jets by some margin and the 2nd worst record for any offensive lineman for all rookies combined, only the 32.7% attributed to the right tackle position for the Patriots has allowed a higher % of pressures on the QB).