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Draft Notes: Thoughts on Wilson & AVT

2021 NFL Draft Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The first day is in the books and what a day it was for the New York Jets. Not only did we get the QB that we wanted, but we also put some insurance in place by securing the best guard in the draft. It’s a great start, but there’s more work to be done. Lets dive straight in.

Wall Street Wilson - Zach Attack - Broad... Boca Raton Bowl - BYU v Central Florida Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The worst kept secret in the draft is a secret no more. BYU’s Zach Wilson is a New York Jet.

The expectation on a QB anywhere is huge, the expectation on a QB in New York is even bigger. Zach Wilson has the confidence to run with that expectation rather than let it weigh him down, and if his Verizon tweets were anything to go by, he’s always nailing the corny commercial aspect to being a top 5 draft pick.

There are always going to be questions about any QB entering the league, but now’s the time to support Zach with everything we have.

72.7% completion last year, throwing 3,694 yards and 32 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. He excelled in short (123 passer rating), intermediate (122 passer rating) and deep areas of the field (131 passer rating). He has a swagger and confidence that will be celebrated in New York, as long as he’s winning.

Everyone knows that Fields was my preference, but that doesn’t matter anymore. Wilson has to have the full support of the fanbase, regardless of your pre-draft preference. It’s not always going to be plain sailing, he’ll have really rough games and it’s important to not get too down or too critical too early, he’ll also have some excellent games and it’s equally important to not get too high on it.

His release bodes well for the next level, he gets the ball out in a hurry with just a flick of the wrist, he’s aggressive and confident in his arm. This is likely going to lead to more turnovers at the next level as the level of athleticism goes up another level, but it’ll also result in some special TD’s that will have highlight reels spinning.

Wilson has shown a tremendous amount of talent at the college level, does that translate to the NFL? That’s the big unknown. His ability to perform off-platform and his ability to push the ball deep are great assets for the QB, and he will be playing in a very QB-friendly system that asks the QB to make the right decision, and then be rewarded by his receivers.

Here’s what Zach had to say upon being selected:

“It was awesome, it was everything I’d hoped and dreamed for. I’ve worked my whole life for this situation so I was so excited to get that phone call, it was awesome. I love all those guys in that room so you know what a special moment to share with my family”

When asked about what happened last year for him to be able to put up the season he did, he said:

“I think it just comes from the development and also being able to play as a Sophomore and Freshman, I learned a lot of amazing things playing in those two years, there were a lot of bad plays I made and I took a lot away from them. So going to my Junior year I finally had a healthy shoulder and a healthy hand and the confidence of my team was at an all time high. We felt like we could go in there and compete with everybody and I had the belief in myself”

Wilson knows that the NFL is going to be difficult and there will be bumps along the way:

“The NFL is going to bring you a lot of challenges, there are some amazing pass-rushers, there are some amazing defenses you’ve got to go against, the disguises are different, so I really think it’s just like that transition from high school to college, it’s that adjusting to this style of game and how it’s going to be different, the terminology will be harder, the players will be better and you have to give it your all and I can’t wait to get started as it’s just a new challenge that’s presented themselves”

It’s time to get excited Jets fans.

Alijah Vera-Tucker

USC Spring Football Practice Begins Photo by Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images

When you’re a GM and you take a QB with the #2 overall selection in the draft, that’s your career investment. Whether he likes it or not, Joe Douglas’s reputation will forever be tied to the success or the failure of Zach Wilson, that’s now the NFL works.

So knowing that, the first thing you do with a high-value investment is you try and protect it, and that’s exactly what Joe Douglas did by being aggressive and trading up to get USC G/T Alijah Vera-Tucker.

Joe Douglas, who usually prefers to move back and accumulate picks decided to switch things up and become a little more aggressive. He sent the #23 pick and both 3rd round picks to the Vikings to select the best guard in the draft.

Having seen Sam Darnold running for his life at times, Douglas was keen to not repeat history. Vera-Tucker will slot straight in at left guard, and along with Becton provide the Jets with a dominant left-side of the line.

Vera-Tucker was kicked out to left-tackle for the 2020 season and he played exceptionally well, only facing difficulties when he came up against Oregon pass-rusher and sure top-5 selection in the 2021 draft Kayvon Thibodeaux.

In a pinch I think Vera-Tucker could play at tackle, but he will be a starting guard straight away and I think that’s where he’ll excel. In 2019 he was the starting left-guard for USC and he gave up just 1 sack, 0 hits and 6 hurries in nearly 600 pass-blocking snaps. I mean that is absolutely ridiculous.

What you get with AVT is consistency, he’s balanced, he’s technically very gifted and his reactions to stunts and disguised pash-rushes is elite. He is dominant in the run-game and once he latches on you’re not getting rid of him. He’s not the most athletic of players but he is smooth in space and is an ideal fit for the Jets outside-zone scheme.

Speaking to Eric Allen, AVT had this to say about joining the Jets and if he was surprised to see the Jets move up for him:

“I heard they moved up and I just got the call and I put the pieces together, they told me they wanted me, they moved up for a reason, so I’m really excited for my family and it’s just time to get to work”

“It’s a great feeling that he (Joe Douglas) has so much trust in me, he knows I’m a guy who’s going to come in and work his butt off every single day, but he’s right the game does start in the trenches so that’s why they came to get me. I’m a guy who likes being in there and gets the job done”

Some have questioned if the price was too high considering the Jets have so many holes to fill. However, for me I think the price was just about right. We’re not going to be able to fill this roster out in one year, it’s going to take multiple drafts and multiple free-agency periods to get that done, if you have a top-10 grade on someone (which is what the Jets had on AVT), and he starts sliding, go get your guy.

What’s next?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Notre Dame at Georgia

Surprisingly there are two players still available for the Jets at the top of the 2nd round that I had top-20 grades on. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah from Notre Dame and Teven Jenkins from Oklahoma State.

At this point I’d be happy with either one, JOK represents the best value as I personally had him as a top-15 selection. His versatility and coverage ability may appeal to someone like Saleh who’s seen Fred Warner flourish due to his coverage ability in San Francisco.

If the Jets want to continue to protect their asset, they’ll go with Jenkins who has allowed 2 sacks in three years at Oklahoma State.

There is an option to trade back and recoup at least one of those third-round picks, and the Jets will explore that option if they have a lot of players with similar grades on their draft board. For me I’m taking the value here and rolling with either JOK or Jenkins.