Tue, 21 Sep 2021

Rookie QB Took Redeye Flight From L.A.; Is Expected at Practice on Friday Randy Lange

Quarterback Zach Wilson, the second overall pick of this year's NFL Draft, has signed his initial contract with the Jets. And after reported to have taken a redeye flight from Los Angeles to North Jersey overnight, he's in the neighborhood to start practicing with his Jets teammates Friday after missing the first two practices of training camp.

Details of the deal were not released by the team and Wilson was not available for immediate comment. Head coach Robert Saleh fielded a number of media questions during his news conference about Wilson before the QB's signing status was known. The coach maintained his position that Wilson will only benefit from as many reps as he can get but that the QB will be ready to pick up where he left off last month at the full-squad minicamp.

"He's in a good place. He's a sharp kid," Saleh said. "So we'll be excited when he gets here, and it's going to be good."

The 21-year-old signal-caller from BYU has been pumped up from the get-go about playing for the Green & White.

"This is what I was hoping for. This is what me and my family were praying for is to be in this situation and go play for the Jets," Wilson said after being selected by the Jets on April 29. "It's crazy how fast your life can change. I'm excited about it."

Saleh said Wilson "checks every box" for all the traits he and his staff value out of quarterback play.

"You talk about arm strength and accuracy, check. Ability to work off schedule and make plays, check. Fearless in the pocket, check. His ability to recall, process and make the right decisions to get the ball where it needs to go without turning the ball over," Saleh said. "He's a special young man. His mental horsepower is through the roof. We're really excited to have him part of the New York Jets."

Said GM Joe Douglas: "At the end of the day, our coaching staff, our scouts, all of us, we loved everything we saw from Zach and we were excited to bring him in to the team."

On the night of the draft, Wilson said: "You never truly know until it happens on draft day, but this is what I was hoping for, this is what me and my family were praying for, is to be in this situation and go play for the Jets."

Wilson began to set the stage for his move up the NFL's draft boards in his junior season last year, leading the Cougars to an 11-1 record, including their third bowl game and their second bowl win with him at the offensive controls. He completed 73.5% of his passes - second-best accuracy in FBS behind Alabama's Mac Jones - for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdown passes and just three interceptions - the 11-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio tops in FBS - and was sacked just 11 times. He also ran for 10 more TDs and 254 more yards on 70 carries.

For his college career he completed 67.6% of his passes for 7,652 yards, 56 TDs to 15 INTs and ran for 15 TDs.

Wilson is the eighth QB taken by the Jets in the first round. Joe Namath was also selected second overall out of Alabama in the 1965 AFL Draft. The first QB picked by the Jets in Round 1, Sandy Stephens of Minnesota in the 1962 AFL Draft, never played for the team. The other first-round flingers were Richard Todd (sixth overall, 1976), Ken O'Brien (24th, 1983), Chad Pennington (18th, 2000), Mark Sanchez (fifth, 2009) and Darnold (third, 2018).

Wilson is also the Brigham Young draft choice selected the highest not only in Jets franchise history but in the NFL since the 1967 start of the common draft.

One thing that Wilson has enjoyed about coming to the Jets is the time he's already spent at the Atlantic Health Training Center, during the May rookie minicamp followed by OTAs and the full-squad minicamp last month.

"It's awesome. I love everything about it," he said of the facility. "What a great place to come to work every day. It's seriously a dream come true, I don't know if there is a better job in the world."

And with news of Wilson's signing, he's just taken his new job to the next level.

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