QB Zach Wilson to Bring the Headband to the NFL; Elijah Moore Becomes a RB After the Catch Jack Bell
The Jets added three promising players -- QB Zach Wilson, OL Alijah Vera-Tucker and WR Elijah Moore -- in the first two days of the 2021 NFL Draft. What follows is some interesting background information on each of the three newest Jets players:
For Wilson, It's All in the Family
Wilson is the second oldest of six children and his younger brother Josh, a linebacker, will return to BYU for the 2021 season.
The sporting gene doesn't stop there. His maternal grandfather was a shot putter at the University of Utah and an uncle on the same side of the family was a defensive lineman at Utah State in the 1990s. Michael Wilson, Zach's dad, was a defensive lineman for Utah in the 1990s.
Outside the world of sports, another uncle, David Neeleman, is the founder of JetBlue Airways in 1999 (in addition to founding four other airlines).
"I'm a big family guy," Zach Wilson said. "I'd rather sit at home with my parents, friends and girlfriend, hang out, get a nice dinner."
For Vera-Tucker, It's All in the Family, Too
The versatile offensive lineman from USC, taken with the No. 14 overall pick, comes to the Jets with a hyphenated last name, but one with a difference.
Instead of a melding of a man's surname and a woman's maiden name after marriage, Vera-Tucker took a different tack. When his parents divorced and then each remarried when he was a youngster, he kept his dad's last name and then in high school incorporated his stepfather's last name.
"I grew up in two households all my life and just being able to show appreciation to the Vera family and the Tucker family at the same time has always been a passion of mine," Vera-Tucker told USCTrojans.com in 2019. "Having those two names instead of one, it feels like I have more power. And it feels like I'm closer to each family."
Moore: Big Plays in a Small Package
The Jets' braintrust was "ecstatic," according to HC Robert Saleh, that Moore cleared Round 1 and was available early in the draft's second round. Moore is listed as 5-9, but as the cliche goes, he plays much bigger.
At Ole Miss in 2020 he caught 97% of catchable targets beyond the line of scrimmage. He set a school record for receiving yards in a game with 238 and tied the Ole Miss game records for receptions with 14 and TD catches with 3 on Oct. 31 in a 54-21 win over Vanderbilt.
Moore can flash sprinter-like speed from the slot, out wide or coming out of the backfield, but it's really his ability to break plays for long gains. At Mississippi's recent pro day he was clocked in 4.34 in the 40-yard dash. Though the pro day time is regarded as unofficial, Moore's time was the fastest except for a 4.27 run by Alabama's Henry Ruggs at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine.
On Friday, Moore said he really goes to work after the catch.
"I turn into a running back," Moore said. "After the catch is what I do. I play receiver. Wherever you need me I'm going to get the job done. People are going to say slot, people are going to say wideout. Call me what you want. I'm going to get the job done. That's all I can say."
One piece of equipment that Wilson will not be leaving behind in Utah is his ubiquitous headband, which also has its own Twitter page (@ZW_HeadBand).
"I'll definitely wear a headband, I have to wear it or else I'm sweating all over my face and can't see while I'm throwing the ball," Wilson said on a Zoom call. "I think I loved the look of the headband coming out of the back of the helmet, something that kind of separates you and makes you kinda look different from maybe another quarterback or something. I always just kinda thought it had a cool look to it, so I'm sure we'll be able to figure something out."
... And the Oscar Goes To ...
With production values, entertainment and a rabid crowd in Cleveland, the NFL Draft is a TV-ratings hit.
Thursday's first round drew a combined TV audience -- on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network -- of 12.52 million viewers, 2 million more than the broadcast of the Academy Awards, also on ABC.
This year's number did not eclipse last year's record viewership when Commissioner Roger Goodell hosted a virtual draft from his basement amid the coronavirus pandemic. Thursday's number is the second highest viewership for the first night of the draft.