Chicago Bears: Why Zach Wilson could be their future quarterback

Chicago Bears Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Bears, Zach Wilson
Chicago Bears (Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports) /

Riley Nelson offers insight into Chicago Bears draft prospect

DaWindyCity (DWC): What are some of the biggest differences you have observed in Zach from last year?

Riley Nelson (RN): Honestly the biggest to me has been the competition he has faced. Last year the first four games were Utah, at Tennessee, Washington, and USC. That is a gauntlet. He is an improved player don’t get me wrong but Zach has always had greatness and shown greatness. It’s that the circumstances around that greatness have changed to allow people to see it in a different light.

DWC: What areas of his game have improved the most since last season?

RN: His biggest improvement from last season has been his command of the huddle and the line of scrimmage. Again, physically I have always seen something special and as everyone has already pointed out his shoulder is likely feeling better now than it did at any point last season, after surgery. But last year as a sophomore there were times that you weren’t sure as an observer if this was 100 percent his team. This year there is no question of that.

DWC: How would you rate his arm talent?

RN: So I was just talking about his arm talent with a buddy in the context of two recent local QBs. The first is Luke Falk, who prepped in Utah at Logan high and played at Washington State and is the all time PAC-12 passing leader. The second is Jordan Love, from Utah State, now with the Packers. I think he is a combination of these two players. Luke has crazy accuracy but his strength is only serviceable. Zach is a tick below Luke in terms of accuracy but has a stronger arm. Jordan was obviously a first-round arm talent and I think Zach shows flashes of what we saw Jordan do but is a tick below Jordan’s ability. This is a long way of saying he has the arm talent to play in the league but might not be a guy who is the absolute best in one area. However, he could be a top overall thrower.

DWC: Does he have the ability to make every  “NFL throw?”

RN: The NFL throw question is a tough one for me because different coordinators and systems require different things out of their QB. Can he today as a only a 20-year-old true junior? No, not every throw. Do I have any doubt that he’ll be able to in three years as he continues to mature in his body and keeps up his incredible work ethic? I have no doubt.

DWC: How well does he process coverages pre and post-snap?

RN: Not much is required of him presnap but he rarely holds onto the ball too long. When a QB holds onto the ball too long, it usually means he is seeing something he didn’t expect to see based on his presnap vision. Post snap he is really good. I can’t wait for him to play Houston and Boise State and hope they get a P5 team in a bowl because so far he hasn’t been forced to get to his 3rd or 4th option. With his arm talent and the level of secondaries he has played against, he hasn’t been stressed too much post-snap (not to mention he has been pressured all of 3 times in 4 games).

DWC: His offensive line seems to give him a lot of time in the pocket. How well does he perform when pressured in the pocket?

RN: It remains to be seen how well he responds when pressured. Last year he made some mistakes like retreating backward and trying to do too much. Waiting to see this year if he can make the defense pay by identifying pressure and getting the ball out to a hot read or stand in there, stare down the gun barrel, make a throw and take a hit. It hasn’t been required of him yet this season because his protection has been able to pick up most anything thrown at them this far.

DWC: What is his demeanor like on and off the field?

RN: He is a one-trick pony. Since his days at Corner Canyon high school here in Salt Lake City he has been all about football. His teammates describe him as boring because it’s all ball with him, but in a good way. His demeanor is great. He has never been bad but entering his 3rd season as a starter you can really see his maturity. Again he’s gone from really good to even better because his baseline was great to begin with.

DWC: What do you believe are his top 3 strengths that will translate to the NFL?

RN: FIrst, his dedication to the game. Second, his natural throwing motion and confidence in his arm. Third, his body is still filling out but he has a naturally athletic frame and good size so he will be able to go get first downs when he needs to but also stand in the pocket and deliver the ball.

DWC: What are some of the things he needs to work on this season?

RN: This is a little counterintuitive because he has been so crazy accurate down the field but he needs to tighten up the accuracy on short throws. Too many times in the quick game the receiver has to go to the ground or can’t get YAC because the throw is a little off target. With the windows being that much smaller in the NFL he needs to improve that.