New York Jets Draft Zach Wilson As Centerpiece To Latest Rebuilding Plan

Written By David Danzis on April 30, 2021 - Last Updated on December 12, 2023
Jets Zach Wilson

The New York Jets have been searching for a franchise quarterback longer than the Israelites roamed the desert.

Several Jets QBs have been anointed as saviors since the glory years of Broadway Joe Namath. None have taken the Jets to the promised land.
Gang Green hopes the quest came to an end Thursday night at the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland. The Jets drafted Zach Wilson with the second overall pick, staking the team’s future on the QB from Brigham Young University.

Wilson was projected to be the Jets’ pick, a move that became all but certain after the team traded QB Sam Darnold earlier this month.
To help protect their long-term investment at QB, the Jets made a draft-day move. The NYJ traded up from the 23rd pick to the 14th and took Alijah Vera-Tucker from the University of Southern California.

The New York Jets have seven picks remaining in the 2021 NFL Draft.

NJ sportsbooks hit, miss on Day 1 of New York Jets draft

New Jersey sportsbooks all had Wilson as the odds-on favorite to be the No.2 pick following his March 26 pro-day workout.

When the Jets traded Darnold to the Carolina Panthers, the line on Wilson moved from -1000 to -2500. At BetMGM, Wilson being the No. 2 pick opened at -400 before closing at -2500.

The New York Jets surprised people Thursday night by moving up to select another offensive player. Prior to draft night, NJ sportsbooks expected a defensive selection (-150) with the Jets’ second first-round pick.

The Jets’ odds to win Super Bowl 56 actually got worse after the first round of the draft. The Jets moved from +8000 to +10000 at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Wilson latest in long line of New York Jets 1st round QBS

Following an injury-plagued season in 2019, Wilson led BYU to an 11-1 record last year. He threw 33 touchdowns to just three interceptions and also rushed for 10 scores.

Wilson is the sixth quarterback selected in the first round by the Jets since Namath. He is the franchise’s highest-drafted QB since Namath in 1965.
Here’s a look at the other first-round QBs taken by the Jets:

  • Richard Todd, No. 6, 1976
  • Ken O’Brien, No. 24, 1983
  • Chad Pennington, No. 18, 2000
  • Mark Sanchez, No. 5, 2009
  • Sam Darnold, No. 3, 2018

The Jets are the first team in the common draft era (since 1967) to select two quarterbacks within the top three overall picks in a four-year span, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Jets trying to keep QB off the MetLife Stadium turf

In an unusually aggressive move, the Jets traded with the Minnesota Vikings to get a highly-touted prospect. The Jets traded the No. 23 and two third-round picks (No. 66 and No. 86) for the No. 14 and a fourth-round pick (No. 143).

Explaining the swap, GM Joe Douglas called it a “unique opportunity.” Douglas told reporters that Vera-Tucker was graded in the top 10 on the team’s draft board.

Over three seasons at USC, Vera-Tucker was First Team All Pac-12 at left tackle in 2020 and Second Team All Pac-12 at left guard in 2019. He is expected to play guard for the Jets next to last year’s first-round pick, tackle Mekhi Becton.

The addition of another young player on the left side of the O-line will help protect Wilson’s blindside for years to come.

Photo by AP/David Dermer
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David Danzis

David Danzis is the lead writer for PlayNJ. He is a New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports, and business. Today, he is PlayNJ’s Atlantic City “insider” and gaming industry expert on casinos, sports betting, and online gambling. David lives in Atlantic County, NJ with his wife and two children.

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