Dont’a Hightower certainly studied the film on New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the New England Patriots linebacker opened up about the rookie, who threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-37 passing with one interception as the Jets erased a 16-0 halftime deficit and fell 19-14 to the Carolina Panthers.
Hidden in Hightower’s praise was a pretty impressive comparison to other AFC stars: Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes.
“Guys like Zach, the Bakers, the Mahomes — guys like that who have the big arm and the escapability … because they’re able to move as well as they are or their arm strength is as good as it is, it puts even a lot more pressure on us there,” Hightower said.
Hightower isn’t the first to pick up on the comparisons. Several NFL analysts — including Tony Romo — have compared Wilson to Mahomes, while Ellis L. Williams of Cleveland.com in April put together a convincing report about the similarities between the then-soon-to-be draft pick and the Browns quarterback.
All of that said, it seems Wilson eventually is destined for great things. But before there’s any verdict about whether or not the rookie is going to live up to that billing, he’ll have to face the Patriots. Hightower doesn’t believe that will be an easy task.
“He’s got a cannon,” Hightower said. “He stays in the pocket, takes shots. You can definitely tell that the guys that are around him believe in him, believe in what he’s able to do. I think it definitely showed towards the end of the game, taking advantage of some of the shots down the field that maybe Carolina was trying to be a little bit more aggressive. Those are things, why he got drafted as high as he did. Gave those guys a shot to win at the end of the game.”
The general consensus is that the Patriots have a potential prodigy in the making in Mac Jones. But based on Hightower’s assessment, Sunday’s game should be a good one between the two rookies.