Good news for Cowboys quarterback gives hope for Zach Wilson with Broncos

Trey Lance is having a good offseason, which could give hope to Broncos QB Zach Wilson
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos took a chance on quarterback Zach Wilson in the 2024 offseason, striking a trade with the New York Jets. Wilson was the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which wasn't that long ago even though it feels like an eternity in football terms.

Wilson is entering the final year of his rookie contract in Denver, and that would make it seem like he's under a ton of pressure to perform immediately. But his progression under head coach Sean Payton and quarterbacks coach Davis Webb shouldn't be expected to be immediate. Although it could be. More likely, if Wilson is going to right the ship in Denver, it's going to take some time.

Perhaps Wilson can draw some inspiration from the situation of Trey Lance with the Dallas Cowboys. Lance was taken just one pick behind Zach Wilson in that 2021 NFL Draft class, a draft that was extremely hyped for its quarterback depth. There were five quarterbacks selected in the top 15 that year, and only one of them (Trevor Lawrence) remains with the team that drafted him.

Wilson is the most recent member of that 2021 NFL Draft class to be traded while Trey Lance got a year head start on everyone else. Lance was traded to the Dallas Cowboys last offseason for a fourth-round pick and wasn't even the backup quarterback to Dak Prescott throughout last season. Heck, Mike McCarthy didn't even draw up any plays to get Lance involved as an offensive weapon and utilize his running skills. The Cowboys have been completely focused on rehabilitating Lance as a quarterback prospect, and it appears there is starting to be some fruit from those efforts.

Mastery of an offensive system takes time. It's why folks shouldn't be too quick to write off Broncos first-round pick Bo Nix this year, depending on how things go. Not only is it tough to master an NFL offense, but then you have to be able to go out there and execute, making the right decisions in real time. Talent is only part of the equation, and Zach Wilson has been finding that out the hard way along with most of the rest of his 2021 NFL Draft classmates.

Reports out of Dallas indicate that Lance is out there making confident decisions and that Lance is in a much better place overall:

"Team reporters have taken note of Lance's renewed confidence. Lance himself has admitted to being in a different place "mentally, physically and spiritually" this offseason. Getting benched and then traded as a former top-three pick likely did a number on his mental."

Jerry Trotta, The Landry Hat

The same could probably be said of Zach Wilson when it comes to the toll his first couple of NFL seasons have taken on him both mentally and physically. Certainly emotionally, playing in New York.

Here's the point in all this: If Trey Lance can right the ship in Dallas -- and there's certainly a long way to go toward proving that is the case -- then Zach Wilson can do it in Denver. And it might take more than a year. The Broncos' investment in Wilson, although currently only for 2024, doesn't exactly feel like a one-year investment. It feels like Sean Payton and the organization believe they can get the best out of a talented player.

Again, time will tell if that can actually happen, but the Cowboys were not under the same pressure as the 49ers to get Trey Lance ready to play. As great as Kyle Shanahan and his staff are, that environment may not have been right for Lance. Perhaps the same will eventually be said for Zach Wilson with the Broncos. Either way, trading for Wilson was very much a worthwhile move for Denver and the way Lance is progressing in Dallas is the evidence of why that is.