2021 NFL Draft – QB Update

Separation at the Top

Trevor Lawrence – Clemson, JR

Lawrence still sits at the top of this class and barring a major change, he will be taken first overall by the New York Jets. Lawrence is not only the best prospect in the 2021 class, he is up to par with some of the greatest QB prospects of all time, including Peyton Manning, John Elway and Andrew Luck. Lawrence has had a bit of a setback in 2020 due to COVID, but still sits far above anyone else in this class. He checks every box necessary to be selected first overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

A New Number 2

Zach Wilson – BYU, JR

I have been high on Wilson since his performance as a true freshman in the 2018 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl when he dominated by going 18/18 for 317 yards and 4 TDs. That day was proof that Wilson could become something special, but even I didn’t expect for him to take over Fields for the QB2 spot. Earlier this year I had Wilson at 3 above Trey Lance, but his strong play in 2020 has elevated his stock and shown off his tremendous upside and potential. Wilson has faced some lower-end talent, but he has played flawlessly throwing for 26 TDs to only 2 interceptions. He is thin, but had a big enough frame (6’3″) that it won’t matter once he reaches the NFL. Not only has he dazzled with highlight plays, he is second to only Lawrence when it comes to technique and fundamentals. He makes it look easy when he throws a 50 yard dime with the flick of his wrist. His mental processing is also off the charts, as he gets rid of the ball quickly and rarely sends it the wrong direction. Only 12.7% of his passes this year have been deemed uncatchable, which ranks third in the nation. Wilson and Fields are neck and neck for the QB2 spot and it will likely just depend on which prospect each team prefers.

Falling, but not too Far

Justin Fields – Ohio State, JR

Fields has had a pretty great start to the season, however, he hit a rocky patch last week against #9 Indiana. This may have been one of his down games, but it is concerning because Field has struggled against other top 10 teams. Last year against Clemson, Fields had a similar game and threw for 2 picks in the playoff loss. Last Saturday Fields won the game against Indiana, however, threw three head scratching interceptions that made the game much closer than it should have been. Every QB is going to throw interceptions, but the ones Fields threw last week were not characteristic of a top 10 QB. He has the physical tools, but has only started a season and a half of college football, while Zach Wilson has a solid 27 starts under his belt. Both have comparable physical abilities, but Fields has now fallen behind and will need a convincing finish to raise his stock back to where it was.

Newcomer in the Top 4

Kyle Trask – Florida, SR

Trask is setting the college football world on fire and his draft stock is rising just like his Heisman odds. Heading into the season Trask was a total wild card prospect. He was huge (6’5″ 240 lbs) and had a big arm, but he didn’t have much experience besides starting the back half of 2019. Now what jumps off of the film more than anything else is his decision making and processing. He has shattered any doubts of making the NFL and showcased significant improvement. I think the biggest losers in the draft are the players who were big “if” prospects and opted out of the season. Trey Lance was formerly as high as the QB2, but now finds himself in an awkward position falling all the way behind hot risers like Trask.

Jumped the Gun

Trey Lance – North Dakota State, SO

Lance had an incredible 2019 season and finished with a perfect 16-0 record while winning the FCS National Championship. He was trending as one of the hottest names in the offseason due to his great athleticism paired with an accurate and efficient arm. North Dakota State elected to play a one game season, which has hurt Trey Lance’s draft stock more than anyone. Instead of another 12 games of tape, Lance will only get one, which pushes his stock from the Carson Wentz category into the Jordan Love category. He has been awesome, however he is still a huge mystery. The skill and attributes are there, but will they translate from the FCS to the NFL? Scouts will have even less to go off of than ever before, which likely will hinder Trey Lance in the draft.

(Not So) Quietly Gaining Steam

Mac Jones – Alabama, JR

There were a lot of questions surrounding Alabama this preseason, most of which revolved around the quarterback position. The Crimson Tide entered the season with expectations of Mac Jones being a placeholder for the incoming 5 Star Freshman Bryce Young, however, things quickly took a turn. Jones threw for 400 yards in 3 of his first 4 starts of the season and scored 12 TDs to just 2 interceptions. He also silenced haters by beating #13 Texas A&M followed by destroying #3 UGA just two weeks later, which immediately earned him Heisman hype. He hasn’t thrown for as many touchdowns as other candidates (just 18 through 8 games), but has been extremely efficient and averages a QBR of 95.3. Jones has looked great on many of his perfectly placed deep balls, however, he has made some questionable throws as well. With just 11 starts under his belt, those throws are not unexpected, but he will really need to shine in order to move further up this draft board. As of now, Jones is QB6 for the 2021 Draft, but is an excellent candidate to take over as one of the top QBs in the 2022 Draft.

The Other Guys

Jamie Newman – Wake Forest/UGA, SR

Newman is another victim of the time off and his decision to opt-out of playing QB for UGA in 2020 has proven costly. He once was considered a top 3 QB prospect, but has seen that likelihood fade away while guys like Trask, Jones and Wilson took advantage of the shortened season. Newman could still crack the second round, but it is unlikely he will be picked any higher than that.

Shane Buechele – SMU, SR

Buechele has one of the biggest arms in college football and with two solid years of starting experience at SMU I think there is more than enough good tape to be drafted in the top 4 rounds. He may not have the upside of many of the first round prospects, but I think he could be a solid backup in the league. Buechele sits a QB8 and likely won’t get much higher than that.

D’Eriq King – Miami, SR

King is one of the best athletes in the ACC and has lead Miami to a 7-1 start. He has reignited the Hurricanes offense with his dynamic playmaking abilities and has done a fine job passing the ball as well. Through 8 games he has only thrown 4 interceptions and is completing nearly 64% of his passes. King could very well become a late riser in the draft and right now sits at QB9.

Desmond Ridder – Cincinnati, JR

Ridder is a rather unknown prospect, but has been incredible this season and leads the Cincinnati Bearcats to an undefeated start. He is the best dual threat QB of the class, but also has proven that he has a big arm that can make throws that many college QBs cannot. Ridder is far from polished, but could be drafted on Day 2 due to his potential alone. He rounds out the QB rankings at QB10.

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