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Jets' Zach Wilson experience provides sobering reminder ahead of Patriots' franchise-altering pick

Who will Patriots take with third overall pick in NFL Draft -- and who has final say on that selecti
Who will Patriots take with third overall pick in NFL Draft -- and who has final say on that selecti 04:56

BOSTON -- It's draft week. Finally. After a season largely spent circling the drain and an offseason spent speculating and theorizing, it's finally time for the Patriots to evacuate or get off the pot.

Thank goodness.

And while possessing the No. 3 overall pick in a draft year with several high-profile quarterback prospects is a good position to be in, everybody knows that it's not without risks. And the developments with Zach Wilson provide a bit of a depressing reminder that having such a high pick in such a draft year guarantees absolutely nothing, and front offices and coaching staffs still need to nail their assessments and projections when making such a critical selection in the draft.

Wilson, 24, is now a Denver Bronco, after the Jets finally cut ties with the No. 2 overall pick from the ignominious 2021 NFL Draft. He's now the fourth quarterback taken in the top 15 to no longer be with his draft team, joining Trey Lance (No. 3), Justin Fields (No. 10) and Mac Jones (No. 15). The lack of success of the quarterbacks taken after Wilson surely help soften the blow to the Jets, but it does nothing to alleviate the resources and time that were invested in Wilson by the franchise.

The Jets locked in on Wilson well before the draft, as they knew Trevor Lawrence would be taken first overall by Jacksonville. With the other four first-round quarterbacks available, the Jets stayed at No. 2 to take the quarterback they believed in most. The Dolphins, who were originally at No. 3, opted to trade their pick to San Francisco in exchange for No. 12 overall plus two more first-round picks and a third-round pick. The Dolphins, who traded up from 12 to No. 6 to take Jaylen Waddle, do not regret that decision. (The 49ers do, but they've done all right for themselves despite that massive swing-and-miss.)

After two terrible seasons (15 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 70.9 rating, 55.2 percent completion rate, 8-14 record), the Jets knew they needed a lot more out of their quarterback. So they traded a bundle of picks (essentially two second-round picks) to Green Bay to get Aaron Rodgers, while also committing $75 million of guaranteed money to the then-39-year-old who would end up playing just four snaps before rupturing his Achilles.

Another bad season from Wilson (8 TDs, 7 INTs, 77.2 rating, 4-7 record) led to the latest development, with the Jets essentially giving Wilson away to Denver.

The Jets traded the quarterback and a seventh-round pick to Denver in exchange for a sixth-round pick, with the Jets paying half of Wilson's $5.5 million salary in 2024. 

It's possible that Wilson could be out of the league after this year. And the Jets will have all their eggs in the basket of a 40-year-old QB coming off Achilles surgery. 

The whole situation speaks to the fine line that teams walk at this time of year. The on-field achievements and evident athleticism are there for all of the top prospects, but the mental capacity and off-field makeup require much more vision and understanding from teams before they make that call on draft night.

It's an obvious point, certainly. But seeing the Jets give away the quarterback that they believed would lift them to new heights provides that lurking reminder that having a high draft pick does nothing to alleviate the challenge of picking a young man to lead the franchise for years to come.

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