NFL Draft 2021: Top 5 Quarterback Prospects
With the NFL draft just under three weeks away, college pro days are in full swing, and rumors are beginning to swell on where potential prospects may land. The quarterback position is one that is expected to be targeted early and often at the beginning stages of the first round.
Today, we will examine the top players at the position and how they can make an impact at the next level.
1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
If you are an NFL team looking for your next franchise quarterback who checks all of the necessary boxes to be successful, look no further than Trevor Lawrence.
Lawrence matches the physical build that NFL teams covet, standing at 6 feet 6 inches and 220 pounds while also displaying the ability to run with a solid 40 time (4.7 seconds).
The most important trait about Lawrence is that he is a proven winner. As the starting quarterback for the Clemson Tigers, he won 34 of 36 collegiate games, including three ACC championships and a national title.
He can excel in any type of modern run/pass-oriented offensive scheme or use his skills in a classic drop-back offense. He displays tremendous accuracy at all three levels and compliments that with one of the strongest arms in this class.
2. Zach Wilson, BYU
After a rocky sophomore season, BYU product Zach Wilson showed signs of being a potential star in the NFL in 2020.
Wilson finished his junior season with 3,692 passing yards and 33 touchdowns, completed 73.5% of his passes, and threw only three interceptions. He also took advantage of his above-average athleticism, scoring 10 rushing touchdowns.
He is the one of the purest passers entering the draft, showing the ability to deliver passes from a variety of angles. Wilson also has a cannon for an arm, whether his feet are set or he’s throwing off-balance.
The only real knock on Wilson is the competition he faced over his collegiate career. Having played in a non-Power Five conference at BYU, Wilson will have to show that he can perform against elite competition in the NFL.
3. Justin Fields, Ohio State
When studying Justin Fields, it’s perplexing that he is not in the conversation for the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL draft.
Fields shows the intangibles to be successful as an NFL quarterback with signs of maturity, confidence and leadership.
He is another proven winner, winning 20 of his 22 starts for the Buckeyes, clinching two Big Ten titles and making an appearance in the national championship game.
Fields has tremendous ball placement with his throws, leading his receivers and allowing them to create yards after the catch. He is also incredibly accurate, throwing only nine interceptions over the course of his college career.
Teams may be hesitant to draft Fields due to the recent lack of success for Ohio State quarterbacks in the NFL, but that could prove costly for teams in dire need of a QB.
4. Mac Jones, Alabama
There have been plenty of rumors surrounding the San Francisco 49ers and their potential target after trading up to the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. One name that continues to surface is Mac Jones.
Once considered a mid-first-round pick, Jones has been in the conversation for a top-three overall selection after an exceptional pro day and padded statistics.
Jones does a tremendous job at reading defenses and picking the right matchups in the open field. He is very decisive with his reads and finds ways to deliver his passes quickly and efficiently.
The biggest question mark for Jones is if he can be a star in his own right. At Alabama, he had the luxury of being surrounded with elite talent such as Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, Jaylen Waddle, Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith. He also had one of the best offensive lines in the country to give him a clean pocket all season long.
Jones is best suited as a pocket passer and has the potential to thrive if drafted to the right system.
5. Trey Lance, North Dakota State
There is no question that Trey Lance is talented and deserving of first-round consideration, but there are plenty of question marks surrounding him as well.
Lance did lead North Dakota State to a 16-0 record in 2019, passing for 2,786 yards, completing 66.9% of his passes, and throwing 28 touchdowns and no interceptions. In most cases, these numbers would seem extremely impressive, but his level of competition is vastly inferior to the other quarterbacks listed.
Playing in the FCS may lead NFL teams to question if Lance could deliver the same type of production at the next level. Carson Wentz had his fair share of success coming into the league, but that does not guarantee Lance will do the same.
Another concern for Lance is the lack of game experience. Due to COVID, North Dakota State played just one game in fall 2020, leaving Lance with only 17 career games of experience at the collegiate level. Considering how other inexperienced quarterbacks have fared in the NFL (Mitchell Trubisky, Dwayne Haskins), he may be off some NFL draft boards entirely.
Austin Boley is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Broadcast Journalism