New Jets QB of the future Zach Wilson, selected with the No. 2-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft Thursday, kicks off his Jets career with a Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: Do you believe you’re the best quarterback in this draft?
A: Absolutely. And everyone should. If you’re a competitor, and you truly believe that football is a mindset, and everything is about confidence, yeah, everyone should think that they’re the best quarterback.
Q: Why was picking you over Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones the right move?
A: I think it’s the trust and belief the coaches had in me, their plan, what they’re trying to do as a team fitting me, and they have that confidence in me to give everything I have to make sure we can improve as a team, and I think I’m right on with that plan and I’m excited to get going with it.
Q: Fill in the blank: Zach Wilson will be successful because …
A: He gives it everything he has every day.
Q: Describe the pressure of being the second pick of the draft.
A: I think at this stage, it doesn’t even matter where you’re drafted at. All of us are on teams now, and whether you were the first pick, second pick or the last pick in the entire draft, we’re all in the same situation now, so it’s whoever can take the most advantage of it.
Q: “Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion.” From your Instagram.
A: That’s an old one. I play this game for free, I think the most successful people in the world are not doing it for the money, they’re doing it for what really drives them and the passion they have with whatever they’re doing.
Q: What does drive you?
A: You don’t know exactly what it is, but that thrill of the game and being able to hit the big-time touchdown and throws or that thrill of making some guy miss, or watching one of your teammates blow someone up on kickoff return, whatever it is, there’s a lot of excitement in the game of football. There’s always something new.
Q: Are you driven to be great?
Q: Do you feel you have what it takes to reach greatness?
A: Absolutely, yeah, I feel like it’s a mindset and it’s the ability to put in everything you have once you have all the tools.
Q: How would you describe your on-field mentality?
A: Being the type of guy that hates to lose. Always elevating the guys around him. Understanding how important each game is, always being prepared going into each game.
Q: How do you go about elevating the guys around you?
A: Being able to pick them up and understanding that it’s one play at a time. Understanding how much time and effort we put into things, how long we worked for ’em. Preparation is confidence, and being able to keep those guys’ confidence up is what’s gonna help a lot.
Q: Define swagger for me.
A: I almost feel like it’s that moment you have in the game where you’re at an all-time high with your confidence, you almost feel like you can do anything. There’s parts of your game that are different, there’s things that you feel like you can do that others maybe can’t, and I feel like that’s what swagger is.
Q: On a scale of 1-10, where’s your swagger?
A: My confidence or swagger in myself I feel like is a 10.
Q: What words would you use to describe yourself on the field?
A: I would say confident for sure … aggressive … someone that loves to take risks … to be different.
Q: I was thinking fearless.
A: Fearless — absolutely. That’s definitely one.
Q: Can you give me one example of your fearlessness on the field?
A: There’s obviously tons of examples, to be able to sacrifice your body and everything you have. I mean I don’t know why I try jumping over people but I sometimes do, and I think that’s just the passion and love for the game.
Q: But it’s also making throws some other quarterbacks wouldn’t even attempt, right?
A: Exactly, and I think that goes down to situations in games as well. I can think of the Coastal Carolina game for example, 45 seconds left in the game and we gotta drive the whole field, and I gotta attempt a whole-shot throw 60 yards down the field to the opposite sideline with guys in your face, whatever it is.
Q: Down four at your own 20, no timeouts, two minutes left, what would be going on in your gut?
A: Make a play. It’s most likely gonna be outside of the offense. The defense is good when they know they can just play back and protect the end zone, so you’re gonna have to be able to have an ultra-focus because in that moment, things are going crazy and you’re gonna have to be able to lock in and be able to stay focused and be able to just deliver it and make big-time plays.
Q: How much do you welcome those moments?
A: Oh I love ’em. There’s nothing better than to feel those butterflies … then once you make those plays, you learn a lot from ’em but it’s also what makes it exciting.
Q: What are you like in the huddle?
A: Somebody that wants to motivate my guys and keep going, get them up, bring up their energy and their confidence, and make ’em feel like we can pretty much do anything as a team.
Q: Who are some leaders either at quarterback or in life you admire?
A: I think Drew Brees and Tom Brady, the way that they elevate the guys around them, their mentality and their demeanor as far as the respect that they earn from their teammates is something special.
Q: What is it about the way that Brady leads that you admire?
A: I think it starts with the off-the-field stuff. I think it’s the fact that he’s able to come into the locker room and almost set a standard, the way that he expects everybody to hold their own and to be accountable for their own actions. He almost brings in a demeanor in like, “We’re not gonna lose here.” Like losing is not acceptable, and I think that’s so cool that he can do that.
Q: Do you hate to lose more than you love to win?
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Q: If you could pick the brain of any quarterback in NFL history, who would it be?
A: Probably Steve Young, just ’cause I know him so well, and he was such an interesting guy as far as his story and everything goes.
Q: If you could have a quarterback duel with any quarterback in NFL history, who would it be?
A: It would be exciting to go up against someone like Patrick Mahomes or something.
Q: How about before Mahomes?
A: Brett Favre.
Q: Who is one cornerback you’d love to test your skills against?
A: [Jalen] Ramsey for sure would be a lot of fun.
Q: What was the lowest of lows for you at BYU?
A: My sophomore season, after having a couple of injuries and not performing super well and having a 7-6 season, and people not wanting me to be the starter. Obviously what happens when a quarterback doesn’t perform how they should and the team doesn’t win, people don’t want you to be the starter.
Q: What is your definition of mental toughness?
A: I think it’s the ability to overcome adversity. When things are going well, how can you almost wipe the slate clean and keep performing well? It’s tough when things aren’t going well to be able to just come out of that hole and be able to make something out of it.
Q: What’s it like being a perfectionist?
A: Yeah, it’s the ability to always take the moments in life where you maybe failed and be able to learn from those and just keep applying it and striving to be perfect even though nobody is.
Q: What is your definition of a good teammate?
A: Someone that had your back through everything, when times are low, they’re there to pick you up and help you keep going, it’s hard to do it on your own, especially in this environment, so a good teammate is someone that’s got your back through it all.
Q: What was it like FaceTiming with Aaron Rodgers?
A: It was awesome. You could just see by his demeanor and personality how driven he is as a player. It was a cool, quick conversation, kind of a little bit about him. … It was awesome.
Q: What was your best high school football moment at Corner Canyon in Draper, Utah?
A: We went 11-1 my senior year in high school. … Obviously losing was not fun, and we missed out on the championship, which made that year pretty sour. But my best memory was probably playing our rival [Alta] that year and getting after those guys and not even making it close.
Q: What is your best basketball memory in high school?
A:. Probably my first dunk (laugh). My junior year in our first game of the year I actually had a dunk, and that was probably my best memory.
Q: What’s the strength of your Ping-Pong game?
A: It’s definitely my backhand, my ability to slam with the backhand.
Q: Why was it that you never liked “Star Wars” but you preferred “Harry Potter”?
A: One of my buddies got me into Harry Potter last year when I got sick for about a week, and I watched every Harry Potter movie that had come out, and I got hooked to it.
Q: “Star Wars” was just not for you?
A: I just never watched it. I’m sure if I really got into it I would love it, but I just never got into it.
Q: What’s the deal with your spam, rice, and eggs?
A: (Chuckle) Yeah spam, rice and eggs had been a huge thing for me in my life. My dad’s from Hawaii, so we’ve been eating spam, eggs and rice my entire life.
Q: Your favorite receiver at BYU, Dax Milne, said you used to make it when you guys roomed together.
A: Yeah, every single day for breakfast pretty much.
Q: Tell Jets fans who were praying for Trevor Lawrence for most of last season why Zach Wilson is not a consolation prize.
A: You know ’cause I’m gonna give it everything I have, and I’m gonna work to help this team to something special and we’re gonna get everything they have.
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: Tom Brady for sure, Matthew McConaughey, [LSU coach] Ed Orgeron — I met him [Thursday] and he’s a hilarious guy. He can come to that dinner.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”
A: Chris Brown.
Q: Favorite New York City restaurant?
A: I was a broke college kid when I came to New York, so we were eating at McDonald’s, so we’ll have to experience all the good restaurants here soon.
Q: Jets fans want to know how long it will take for you to win a Super Bowl.
A: You definitely can’t give a timeline on anything like that, but the focus is just focusing every single day on just doing what we can to improve as a team.
Q: What would you want one day for your New York quarterbacking legacy to be?
A: I think that success as a quarterback is just being able to play for a long time and being able to give it everything you have. That’s what is so special is having no regrets, just leaving it all out there on the field.
Q: Jan. 12, 1969, was the only Super Bowl the Jets have won. Why do you want this? Why do you embrace this challenge?
A: I think there’s nothing more special than making something out of nothing, and so it’s gonna awesome to be able to come in here with all these guys that have been working so hard and this coaching staff that’s gonna put it together and give us a plan, and there’s gonna be nothing better than making some success out of it.
Q: They say New York’s the greatest place to win, but it can be the worst place to lose. What are your thoughts on that?
A: Well, I don’t think there’s a better place to do it than here, and I think that’s what’s gonna be so exciting about this whole journey is if we’re gonna flip it around and we’re gonna do it, it’s gonna be here in New York, and that’s gonna be the best place to do it.
Q: Joe Namath’s nickname was Broadway Joe. What do you think of Broadway Zach?
A: I think you gotta earn that title.