With the 2020 NFL season coming to an end, many fans and analysts have begun to look towards the draft in April. This off-season leaves many teams in need for a new quarterback, and we’ve already seen movement at the position with the Rams and Lions swapping signal callers, and others including Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz being floated around. While we just witnessed a free agent quarterback winning the Super Bowl, many teams find their guy in the draft, and in 2021 there is no shortage of starting talent at the position.
- Feleipe Franks: Incredible size and arm strength, but extremely raw accuracy wise and above the shoulders. Very traits based player who showed decent improvement in final year.
- Ian Book: Won a lot of games at Notre Dame but poor height and arm strength paired with a complete inability to play in rhythm is not a recipe for success.
- Sam Ehlinger: More of a run first quarterback that doesn’t display NFL level passing ability. Lacks arm strength, accuracy and processing ability desired at the NFL level.
1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson, 6’6″ 220 lbs, Comp: Aaron Rodgers
Lawrence is as perfect of a prospect as they come. Standing at 6’6″, Lawrence has the physical tools of a lab experiment possessing a howitzer for a right arm and moves better than anyone should with that frame. Lawrence doesn’t just look good coming off the bus either as he has elite accuracy on all levels of the field, ideal pocket sense and mobility and plays with high level anticipation. He also is terrific as a runner and can be a focal point in the run game with speed to create chunk plays on the ground. At the next level Lawrence will have to progress a little more past his first read but I do not question that he will be able to do that. Don’t overthink it, Lawrence is the best quarterback and the first pick in the draft.
2. Justin Fields, Ohio State, 6’3″ 223 lbs, Comp: MVP Cam Newton
The “consolation prize” to Trevor Lawrence in this draft happens to be a potential generational talent of his own. Both Lawrence and Fields fought for the #1 rank coming out of high school and continued to compete against each other at the college level. While being a couple inches shorter, Fields has a solid frame at 6’3″ and uses it with his physicality as a runner. Fields’ touch and accuracy down the football field is possibly the greatest we’ve ever seen and is what separates him from other quarterback prospects. The combination of size, accuracy, arm strength and athletic ability is arguably the greatest we’ve ever seen. Fields has also shown a ton of development mentally and should be perfectly capable of processing NFL defense at a high level right away, and has the toughness and work ethic of a player that will last a long long time.
3. Trey Lance, North Dakota State, 6’3″ 224 lbs, Comp: Ryan Tannehill
Lance is an extremely intriguing and polarizing prospect coming out of the FCS. Lance did not receive attention from many of the top college programs, and instead went to play in the FCS at NDSU. Lance is very physically gifted with great athleticism and arm strength. He also is a very good decision maker who both does not put the ball in harms way and maximizes big play opportunities. However, many question marks remain with such little experience, a low level of competition and a system that didn’t require him to do much more than what his physical tools couldn’t. Lance is the definition of a “boom or bust” prospect but one I would gamble on with a top 10 pick in this draft.
4. Mac Jones, Alabama, 6’2.5″ 217 lbs, Comp: Matt Ryan
After sitting behind Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, Mac Jones finally got his opportunity in 2020 at Alabama and he made the most out of it. Jones went undefeated with a national championship and was a Heisman finalist. He put up incredible production, similar to Joe Burrow in 2019, and has solid tape to back up his first round campaign. Jones wins a lot before the snap and has all the traits you look for in a pocket passing prospect. He’s got starting caliber arm strength along with great anticipation and accuracy in both the quick game and downfield. In the NFL, Jones won’t be playing with the talent and system he had at Bama so there is growing to do, and doesn’t have superb athleticism to extend and create plays on the ground but there is more to like than to dislike with Jones, and in my opinion is a better quarterback than Bama’s previous quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
5. Zach Wilson, Brigham Young, 6’3″ 210 lbs, Comp: Derek Carr
This player to me, is one that is getting a lot of hype that is not completely warranted. The most common argument you hear against Wilson is the level of competition, which is one reason for concern but his tape leaves many question marks as well. The pockets Wilson were asked to throw from were nothing short of incredible, as he had the cleanest of pockets to work from consistently with space to step into throws and do whatever he wanted weather it was sitting in or rolling out. The one game where he saw a little more pressure was against Costal Carolina, where he simply did not look like a first round quarterback. Wilson overall possesses slightly above average physical tools as both a runner and a passer. His main problems however, are his timing, anticipation and willingness to throw short of the sticks on 3rd down. He has instances on his deep ball of being extremely late, causing the pass to be severely under-thrown, which is where my concerns with timing mainly come in. However I do like Wilsons ability to manipulate defenders in zone coverage, his overall accuracy, his processing ability and think he can be a good fit in a Shannahan/Kubiak type scheme that I’d take a gamble on late in the first or early in the 2nd.
6. Davis Mills, Stanford, 6’4″ 212 lbs, Comp: Taller Baker Mayfield
Mills, like Lance, is another inexperienced players with some question marks heading into the draft. Mills possesses excellent arm strength and is capable of making consistent NFL level throws. He was comfortable operating in the short game for the most part but was inconsistent with his decision making and anticipation. Mills didn’t have many playmakers that separated at a high level at Stanford, however he was able to produce good tape in limited time. What makes Mills intriguing is his ability to manipulate and buy time in the pocket. He has that 6th sense that scouts look for and has sufficient athleticism to scramble and pick up yardage through the ground when needed. I do see him as a project and not someone I’d take in day one, as he needs to make better decisions with the ball and lacks the athleticism to fall back on when he makes mistakes, but someone I would take a gamble on in day 2 with starting upside.
7. Jamie Newman, Wake Forest, 6’3″ 235 lbs, Comp: Daniel Jones
After opting out in 2020, the only action we saw from Newman was in the Senior Bowl, where he was hit and miss, similar to what we saw at Wake Forest. Newman has desiring physical tools, with a strongly built frame a strong arm and good rushing ability. He throws a good deep ball with layered touch and has good velocity throwing outside the numbers, which was backed up at the Senior Bowl. Newman is very smooth and looks the part as an NFL quarterback. The biggest issue in Newman’s game is his pocket presence in general. His navigation in the pocket and internal clock are very worrisome from what we’ve seen and I would not be comfortable starting him right away at all, although he brings nice vision and physicality as a runner. Newman is another day 2 or 3 project with nice tools that is worthy of a gamble in the draft.
8. Kyle Trask, Florida, 6’5″ 239 lbs, Comp: 2020 Ben Roethlisberger
Trask broke onto the scene in 2019 after taking over for Feleipe Franks and never looked back. He then took his game to another level in 2020 leading Florida to the SEC championship, a NY6 bowl and becoming a Heisman finalist. While Trask had a lot of success at the college level, I am less optimistic projecting him in the NFL. Trask’s velocity seemed to taper off when throwing even slightly off platform, and he does not display sufficient athleticism for the NFL. He has very heavy feet when moving outside the pocket and compounds these physical limitations with far too many head scratching decisions leading to many turnovers. Overall when including the lack of physical traits and the amount of turnover worthy plays he produces, Trask to me is a player that should be taken in the 3rd day of the draft at the earliest.
9. Shane Buechele, SMU, 6’1″ 207 lbs, Comp: Matt Barkley
Buechele was a highly anticipated prospect coming out of high school where he planned to play at the University of Texas. However, he eventually transferred to SMU, where he started for 2 seasons for the Mustangs. Buechele offers relatively poor height but was productive at his time at SMU. He possesses adequate arm strength for the position and processed defenses at an above average level running the SMU air raid. He also offers good agility inside the pocket which allows him to buy time and extend plays. He is also an accurate passer in the short game, where likely his pro success will be built upon. He is a similar prospect to Gardner Minshew, who played in the same system at Washington State and think Buechele should be viewed as a late round to UDFA developmental starter/quality backup.
10. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M, 6’2.5″ 205 lbs, Comp: Tyler Huntley
The ultimate day 3 wild card at quarterback in this draft is no other than Kellen Mond. Despite starting 4 seasons at TAMU, Mond is still only 21 years of age, and to go along with that we still have zero idea of what to make of him as a prospect. There are times when watching Mond’s tape, that you think you are watching a middle schooler playing in a college football game and there are other times where he looks like a very desirable developmental starter. One thing that will turn off some teams from ignoring some of the inconsistencies in his game is the fact that he possesses less that ideal physical tools both as a passer and runner. Mond has a snappy and quick release and can throw with good velocity outside the numbers but his mechanics overall are very questionable and must be revamped in the NFL. Despite the many concerns with Mond there is some untapped potential worth taking a late round gamble on but he is definitely not someone I’d be comfortable with starting anytime soon.