Most NY Jets fans should feel pretty satisfied with the performance of the team's 2021 NFL Draft class after one season. While there were certainly a few ups and downs, for the most part, the class more than lived up to expectations.
However, that evidently isn't the opinion shared by everyone.
NFL.com's Gennaro Filice recently handed out grades for every team's 2021 draft class and the Jets received a relatively poor grade of a C+ which was one of the worst in the AFC.
The grade was primarily docked due to Zach Wilson's performance with Filice insisting that the No. 2 overall pick "did not look like an NFL quarterback in Year 1."
"After sitting behind BYU's impenetrable wall of an offensive line and lighting up college football in 2020, the No. 2 overall pick experienced a rude awakening in the NFL. Outside of a strong Week 17 start where he nearly led the Jets to a shocking upset of the Buccaneers, the 22-year-old consistently appeared overwhelmed. Wilson didn't just fail the eye test, either, finishing dead last among qualified QBs in passer rating, second-to-last in QBR and in the nether regions of PFF's QB grades and Gregg Rosenthal's final rankings."- Gennaro Filice
Zach Wilson and the NY Jets rookie class deserves more praise
Wilson undoubtedly had his share of struggles as a rookie. The 22-year-old finished with 13 touchdowns (nine passing) to go along with 11 interceptions, completed just 55.6 percent of his passes, and averaged only 6.1 yards per attempt.
No one is suggesting Wilson had a particularly strong rookie season, but Filice's overall analysis isn't entirely correct either. Contrary to what was stated, Wilson didn't look "overwhelmed" for the most part late in the season.
He was one of only two starting quarterbacks alongside Aaron Rodgers to not throw an interception over the final five weeks of the season, and that was despite playing with nothing at tight end, a beat-up offensive line, and Braxton Berrios as his top wide receiver.
This doesn't excuse Wilson's poor early-season play and it doesn't make his late-season improvement the be-all-end-all narrative of his rookie year. But his performance was probably a bit better than what Filice suggests, especially when compared to his analysis of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Lawrence has earned the benefit of the doubt apparently. Wilson is not afforded those same privileges.
Filice does make note of impressive performances from the likes of Alijah Vera-Tucker, Elijah Moore, and both Michael Carters, but he does leave out Brandin Echols who flashed especially toward the end of the year.
Ultimately, it's hard to imagine giving the Jets' 2021 draft a grade that low even with Wilson's subpar rookie season.
Of course, draft grades after one season are always meaningless. Draft grades, as a whole, are honestly meaningless.
The only way to change the narrative is with results on the field. That's what Zach Wilson and the Jets will look to do in 2022.