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Zach Wilson - BYU - NFL Draft
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Chip On Shoulder Led Zach Wilson To Being Hot Commodity For NFL Teams

BYU QB Zach Wilson is rising up NFL Draft boards. (Photo: BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – BYU star quarterback Zach Wilson is flying up NFL mock drafts. His meteoric rise to stardom this season has drawn comparisons to how LSU’s Joe Burrow rose from nowhere to No. 1 overall pick.

Wilson has led BYU to its first 8-0 start since 2001, but it’s the arm talent, the arm angles, the accuracy on his deep passes that have NFL teams intrigued by BYU’s junior signal-caller.

Zach Wilson drawing a lot of interest from the NFL

According to BYU Passing Game Coordinator Aaron Roderick, almost the entire NFL has shown interest in Wilson.

“I talked to almost every team in the NFL on our bye week,” Roderick said. “Almost every team, just about.”

Wilson has yet to announce he has declared for the NFL Draft formally, but with that type of attention and interest, it’s going to be hard to turn down what should be a first-round payday. The San Francisco 49ers director of player personnel was in Boise earlier this month to watch Wilson dismantle Boise State on the Blue Turf, 51-17.

“They make their own decisions about his play. That’s their job, they’ve got scouts and evaluators, and they’re good at what they do,” Roderick said. “They make their own decisions on what they think of him as a player.”

Since the day he stepped foot on BYU’s campus as an underrated three-star recruit from Corner Canyon High School in Draper, Wilson has always had impressive arm talent. He capped off his first year as the starter with a perfect 18-for-18 performance in a bowl game in his true freshman season. Then injuries started to mount up.

A lingering shoulder injury dating back to his high school career forced Wilson to have surgery, and then a thumb injury against Toledo forced Wilson to miss games. Leaving his sophomore season as a dip from his first year.

The chip on the shoulder

The injury-riddled sophomore season led to what Roderick calls a “chip on the shoulder” for both he and Wilson because Roderick heard directly from many people how upset they were with Wilson being BYU’s quarterback.

“Just a few months ago, I still got an inbox full of hate mail who didn’t want him to be a starting QB this year,” Roderick said. “So we’ve both had a chip on our shoulder every week this season.”

Roderick and Wilson’s relationship dates back to when A-Rod was a coach at Utah, and Wilson was attending Ute Shoots and Camps as a kid. After the Boise win, he shared a social media post that gave a glowing endorsement of BYUs QB coach.

“It wasn’t about reaching out and telling everyone else about (our relationship),” said Wilson to KSL Sports. “It was really just showing everyone how big of a key (Coach Roderick) really is to our team.

“For me, I was thinking about my personal development, how far I’ve come as a quarterback, and really, all that has to come from him. I really had to just say thank you to coach A-Rod for everything he’s done for me. No, he didn’t play the position. He would tell you that straight off that maybe he doesn’t know the most about throwing mechanics and the way the body generates velocity in a throw, and he would admit that firsthand. But he knows scheme, he knows how to develop a quarterback mentally, and he knows how to teach a quarterback progressions and reads and confidence in an ability to play. I’ve seen that transition over my whole career so far.”

Questions NFL teams are asking about Zach Wilson

There’s been no dip in year three for Wilson. The Heisman Trophy candidate has passed for 2,512 yards, 22 touchdowns and has only thrown two interceptions on the year. With one of those coming from his wide receiver slipping on the turf. Wilson has been as close to perfect this season as you can get from a college quarterback, and it has NFL teams asking a lot of questions for Roderick.

“Most of those guys are asking me questions about, ‘what it’s like to work with him?  How does he interact with his teammates? What kind of a leader he is, what kind of character he has, what are his aptitudes for learning?’ His intelligence, all of those things,” Roderick said. “It’s more in-depth (questions) knowing him from my point of view as a quarterbacks coach. They’ll make their own evaluations about him as a player.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

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