New 2021 mock draft has Zach Wilson getting picked before Justin Fields

Zach Wilson
Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY NETWORK

We’re inching closer to the official start of the 2021 NFL draft season, and as is usually the case this time of year, players who are enjoying quality seasons tend to jump way up mock drafts.

Sometimes those jumps are victims of the moment; recency bias. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding a player who’s having a big year, but pushing players like that into rarefied draft territory is a slippery slope. Rarely do players like Joe Burrow come out of nowhere to end up being the No. 1 overall pick.

So what should we make of BYU quarterback Zach Wilson’s remarkable 2020 campaign? He wasn’t a first-round prospect at the start of the season, but in NFL draft analyst Dane Brugler’s most recent mock draft for The Athletic, Wilson comes off the board No. 2 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The first curveball of this mock draft. In October, I wrote how Wilson had put himself in the conversation to be the second quarterback drafted and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him selected this high. With his natural accuracy and ability to execute off-platform, Wilson’s play translates very well to the next level.

Through nine games this season, Wilson’s completed 74.3% of his passes for 2,724 yards, 26 touchdowns and two interceptions. His production matches his physical traits, which as Brugler pointed out, project favorably as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

If Wilson leapfrogs Ohio State’s Justin Fields in Round 1, the battle to trade up will be as competitive as we’ve seen in years. Fields, in any other draft, would challenge to be the first overall pick. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence will be that guy in 2021, and if Wilson is valued as highly as Brugler suggests in this mock, a quarterback-needy team will have a rare opportunity to get an elite quarterback prospect without having that No. 1 overall.

According to Brugler’s mock, Fields’ slide ends at No. 6 (Carolina Panthers).

Teddy Bridgewater is a tough, talented quarterback, but I don’t think anybody expects him to be the long-term answer for Carolina. However, he does give the organization an ideal “bridge” scenario if it drafts a quarterback in the top 10. Fields still requires development with his passing vision and reads, but his size, mobility and accuracy are attractive selling points.

The NFL draft is always more fun when there’s a quarterback or two jockeying for early first-round consideration. We were spoiled in 2020 with the trio of Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert. With Lawrence, Wilson, and Fields, we’re headed for another year of big-time investments at the game’s most important position in the first 10 picks of the 2021 draft.

Bryan Perez

Bryan is the founder of Pro Football Draft. His work has been featured on The Draft Network, NBC Sports and USA Today. Former CFL scout.

Follow him on Twitter: @BryanPerezNFL