Jets Reportedly Bickered About Zach Wilson Even Before QB Arrived

Not everyone was on the same page before the 2021 NFL Draft


Feb 8, 2023

Zach Wilson proved to be a divisive quarterback in his first two NFL seasons, with a report last month even suggesting there would be a “mutiny” in the Jets locker room if he was handed the keys to New York’s offense again in 2023.

Well, as it turns out, the bickering about Wilson started well before the BYU product arrived in the Meadowlands.

ESPN’s Rich Cimini on Wednesday explored why Wilson’s career hasn’t taken off since the Jets selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Obviously, one could point to several missteps, like Wilson being named the starter his rookie season without first sitting behind a veteran QB, but it certainly didn’t help matters that he stepped into a situation already littered with skeptics.

Two sources familiar with the Jets’ pre-draft process told Cimini that some talent evaluators within the organization didn’t view Wilson as worthy of being the No. 2 pick. Instead, per Cimini, they viewed him as being a developmental player with the potential to become a starting quarterback within three years.

Those concerns ultimately were drowned out by Wilson’s supporters, which reportedly included Jets general manager Joe Douglas, assistant GM Rex Hogan and then-offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.

“(LaFleur), along with Rex Hogan, were in 2021 draft meetings selling the narrative that there was a legit argument Wilson was better than (No. 1 overall pick) Trevor Lawrence,” a source told Cimini. “(Some of us), we’re like, ‘What the (expletive)?!’ It’s one thing to like a player; it’s another to pump a prospect up higher than he actually is.”

To be fair, the aforementioned trio weren’t alone in their optimism regarding Wilson. Several industry experts lauded Wilson ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, which featured three other first-round quarterbacks (Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones) in addition to him and Lawrence.

But clearly, there were red flags being raised in some corners of the building. And Douglas, in particular, looked past those question marks in the hopes of landing a franchise quarterback. To say it’s been a disappointing result thus far would be an understatement.

Maybe Wilson turns around his career at some point. After all, he’s entering just his age-24 season in 2023. But the Jets have a new offensive coordinator, hiring former Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett this offseason after LaFleur’s departure, and New York appears committed to landing a more proven signal-caller who could be the missing piece.

Thumbnail photo via Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images
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