The Zach Wilson hype is getting loud.
I’m talking airplane engine, front row at an AC/DC concert, 2 a.m. toddler screaming, hotel fire alarm loud! So much so that, just over a week ago, quarterback-turned-broadcaster Tony Romo made the bold prediction that Wilson will soon be one of the top five quarterbacks in the league. That’s high praise for the 2nd pick in April’s draft. Maybe too high. At least according to Jets owner, Woody Johnson.
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“He’s not in Canton yet,” Woody Johnson jokingly told CBS New York.
After an impressive preseason against mostly soon-to-be backups and future members of the XFL, Wilson is slated to start the season opener Sunday at Carolina. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him have a more difficult time with the Panthers starters than he had during the exhibition season.
Johnson knows that, regardless of his talent, Wilson will experience some growing pains:
“You’ve got to let the young man experience the NFL and the speed. College is great, but in the NFL, all the players are good and all of them want to do their job. It’s going to be challenging. Being a first-year quarterback in the NFL is maybe the hardest job you can have anywhere in life. He’s not sitting behind Brett Favre for three years. He’s out there on his own in New York. His parents are way out and his girlfriend is maybe not in town. He’s got a new family and it’s the team.”
Make no mistake, Johnson, who’s recently witnessed the rise and fall of other overhyped rookies like Luke Falk, Bryce Petty and Trevor Siemian, is cautiously optimistic: “Let’s not set the expectation that every single game he’s going to be this or that. Rather, seeing how he develops and how he protects himself and how he approaches the game. I love what I’ve seen so far.”
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New York and Carolina kick off at 1:00 p.m. EST this Sunday. For now, Wilson’s Hall of Fame enshrinement is tentatively penciled in for August of 2041.