1. Zach Wilson, QB, NY Jets
There is arguably no player set to benefit as much as Zach Wilson from the Jets offseason. General manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh’s commitment to their young quarterback has begun to take shape.
Thanks to a flurry of key acquisitions in free agency and the draft, Wilson is now presented with a massive opportunity to improve on his rookie year.
The team beefed up the offensive line with Laken Tomlinson and revamped the tight end room with C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Conklin, and Jeremy Ruckert in the offseason.
In 2021, the Jets entire tight end room produced a cumulative stat line equivalent to that of an average starting tight end, not exactly world-beating. Adding Uzomah and Conklin will give Wilson additional weapons and a safety net on passing downs.
Additionally, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur will be able to get more creative with his personnel groupings to aid Wilson. A staple of the Shanahan/LaFleur offense employed by the Jets is the 12 personnel grouping with two tight ends on the field.
Having two proven veteran tight ends in addition to a talented rookie in Ruckert will allow LaFleur to put Wilson in a lot more favorable situations on offense.
On top of all that, the Jets went out in April and drafted two more blue-chip offensive prospects in the form of Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall. Garrett Wilson has already been compared to elite receivers such as Davante Adams by the highly respected Brian Baldinger.
When watching his college tape, the athleticism, body control, and fluidity in route running present make it easy to see why. The second-year quarterback now has a receiver room headlined by Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis, and Braxton Berrios, among others.
Drafting Hall provides the young passer with yet another weapon out of the backfield. The Iowa State product displayed excellent receiving ability throughout his time in college in addition to being the best pure runner in the 2022 draft.
Douglas further showed his commitment to his quarterback in his reaction to the Mekhi Becton injury. While it is incredibly disappointing that Becton will not be able to suit up for the Jets in 2022, the Jets GM did not waste much time or take any chances when it came to protecting his franchise quarterback, signing Duane Brown to a two-year, $22 million contract.
Brown was very good in Seattle, making the Pro Bowl as an alternate and finishing with a Pro Football Focus grade of 71.5. While there are concerns about Brown's durability and age (37 when the season starts), he has been a consistent starter over the course of his career and should provide an upgrade over the Jets' prior options at tackle.
This massive influx of talent is what Saleh and Douglas hope will accelerate Wilson’s development. This regime doesn’t seem too keen on hanging their quarterback out to dry the way the last one did to Sam Darnold.
With a massively improved supporting cast in year two of the LaFleur offense, Wilson has a golden opportunity to silence his critics in 2022.
While we may be forced to wait a week or two of regular-season football to see what Wilson can really do while he recovers from a knee injury, the arrow is pointing up based on the quantity and quality of players Douglas has placed around him.