John Beck, a co-founder of the quarterback laboratory 3DQB, and Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson share more than a devotion to the craft of throwing the pigskin. Beck and Wilson played quarterback at BYU years apart. That distant link came full circle when Wilson trained under Beck's wing in Huntington Beach, CA, before his stellar junior season in 2020.
"He's relentless, always dialed in on how he can improve," Beck said. "For Zach there was a lot of talent. The quarterback position is unique, it's not only talent that has to be refined, it's skills functioning within spaces. In a pocket you can do myriad things, but do they help the play? He came in talented as a high school kid, but the question was: Are you trying to do too much, make a play when it's not there? It's about playing smarter. The cool part for him is that he got to have the same offense for three years [at BYU], which allowed him to mature and progress in the system to the point that he mastered it. It's just about him playing smarter in the system, with tools he has."
The similarities between the offense Wilson worked in at BYU and the modified West Coast offense being installed by Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur is one of the things that attracted the Jets to Wilson, making him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. His selection came after general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and LaFleur traveled to Provo, UT, to see Wilson in person during BYU's Pro Day. They came away impressed with his arm strength, in addition to being impressed with his smarts and focus during a series of intense Zoom meetings.
"Physically it's going to be hard to find a guy who has more natural arm talent, it's something he's worked at," Beck said. "Zach can make difficult throws look easy. He runs around and has some quick feet, and you'd be surprised at how explosive he is. He's very cerebral when it comes to the game. You often hear people say they want an offensive coordinator on the field in the quarterback, or an extension of the offensive coordinator. That's how Zach's mind processes games. He sees things through the lens of an offensive coordinator and when he's on the sideline he talks in that manner.
"He always wants to attack the defense, he wants to push them by being the aggressor and taking swings at the defense. He is ultra-competitive and you can see in his style of play some of the mannerisms of how he interacts with his teammates. He demonstrates high-level competitiveness that you have to get from your quarterback. And that's what the Jets are getting."
Wilson's joy in playing the game, competitiveness, dedication and confidence have been on display since that night in late April when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the Jets' pick. Wilson bounded down the rundown, high-fiving ecstatic Jets fans on the way to the lectern. During voluntary OTAs and mandatory minicamp, Wilson was an engaged and vocal presence on the field, in the QB room and during interactions with the media and his teammates.
"When you go into the NFL, every person on that field has so many great qualities about them," Beck said. "They were all stars in high school and college, and you have this entire roster that is full of top-caliber players. Those are aspects that Zach brings, the dog. You have to have that in you, the swagger, the edge. When you're in an environment of alphas, what can you do to keep yourself up there?
"Everybody competes in different ways. I've been around competitive guys at a high level and they don't show it the same way. Though the fire burns within, some people don't show it on the outside. In Zach's style of competitiveness, it comes out and he's not doing it for show, to be flashing. He's just doing it because of his pure form of competitiveness. It's his own artwork and it's going to be cool to see him on the stage in New York. Some people may take it the wrong way, or if the season starts badly. But he should keep acting that way. That's who he is. I don't want to tell someone they have to turn off that light or dim it. It should always burn bright."
See the Jets QBs Leading Up to the 2021 Season