Examining the 2021 Quarterback Classby Mason Thompson November 2, 2020 0 comments
We are halfway through the 2020 NFL season. The draft order is starting to take shape, and teams are finally seeing all of their hard work either pay off or go down the drain. Some organizations are looking towards the draft to find new players, maybe even a quarterback and some teams are focused on the playoffs.
Since 2016, 15 teams have drafted their current starting quarterbacks, or better yet, half the league. Those 15 include Gardner Minshew, who may be benched this upcoming week and excludes Dak Prescott, who is out with an injury, as well as Mitchell Trubisky and Dwayne Haskins, who haven’t panned out yet. Of those 15, a whopping 13 of them went in the first round. The other two were Drew Lock, who went in the second round, and Minshew going in the sixth.
If you look at the league today, both Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson have won the MVP for the last two years. Deshaun Watson is putting the Texans on his back amidst a coaching change. Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert are just scratching the surface as rookies, with Tua Tagovailoa starting his first game on Sunday. Unfortunately, Trubisky or Haskins haven’t panned out, or that number would be higher than 15. Sometimes a team decides it’s never too early to take your quarterback of the future, even if he may not play until 2022 as the Packers did by selecting Jordan Love in April.
Despite those numbers, there are still a handful of teams looking for their signal-caller of the future. Here’s a look at them and how they are grouped:
Most Likely Taking a Quarterback (4) – Chicago, Jacksonville, New York Jets, Washington
These four have to take a quarterback early. The Jaguars have given up on the Minshew experiment. Both Jacksonville and New York are attempting to out-tank one another. Sam Darnold is, unfortunately, going to be finding himself in a new uniform next year as the Jets will likely have the first pick and will take their new quarterback. Haskins is in the same situation in Washington, and the Bears are currently stuck in purgatory, as they have won too many games to get one of the top three quarterbacks without a trade-up and are struggling between Trubisky and Nick Foles.
The Aging Veteran Group (7) – Atlanta, Detroit, Indianapolis, New England, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay
Atlanta and Detroit could both have high enough picks to start their rebuild. The Falcons have an intriguing option with Kurt Benkert, while Detroit doesn’t have a developmental project. Indianapolis has two players they could use with Jacoby Brissett and Jacob Eason but have been a popular landing spot for Darnold in a potential trade. Pittsburgh couldn’t make the playoffs with both Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph, and the successor to Ben Roethlisberger needs to appear at some point. Cam Newton looks nothing like his former self, and Jarrett Stidham has struggled mightily in limited action in New England. New Orleans has a gadget player with Taysom Hill but could use Jameis Winston for a year to see if he’s their future. The Buccaneers have Josh Rosen on their practice squad, but knowing his luck, Tampa Bay won’t give him a shot.
Bridge Option Already In Place (3) – Minnesota, Las Vegas, Carolina
Kirk Cousins isn’t a superstar quarterback. He is reminiscent of Joe Flacco when the Ravens selected Jackson. The Vikings are about to undergo a rebuild and need salary cap help desperately. Las Vegas has plenty of weapons, and Derek Carr has played well this year, but Jon Gruden doesn’t believe in him. Teddy Bridgewater has played alright this year, but the Panthers would be wise to look at other options.
New York Giants
Daniel Jones hasn’t played very well. He continues to make mistakes and turn the ball over continuously. The Giants have plenty of weapons to help him, and the offensive line is improving, but Jones hasn’t taken the next step like many expected him to.
Prescott showed how much he meant to the Cowboys after he got injured. He was on pace for almost 6,000 yards but was playing on the franchise tag, meaning he is a free agent after this year. Dallas may not have enough cap space to keep him around on the franchise tag again, meaning Prescott could go elsewhere, leading Dallas to have a hole at the position.
Of course, not all of these teams are going to select a quarterback. As of now, there are four likely to go in the first round.
Trevor Lawrence – Clemson
Many said the Dolphins were “Tanking for Tua” last year. The Jaguars originally looked to have been “Tanking for Trevor.” Well, that may not go as planned as the Jets are outperforming them at their own game. Analysts have said that Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. Unfortunately, we can’t do a scouting report on him just yet, so that’s yet to be decided. Lawrence could also return to Clemson if he chooses to stay away from both the Jets and Jaguars.
Justin Fields – Ohio State
The long line of Ohio State quarterbacks continues. Most mocks have the Buckeye quarterback going to Washington or Jacksonville. He is either the QB2 or QB3 in the class per most analysts and would likely come in and start immediately. Some have even compared him to a younger Newton.
Trey Lance – North Dakota State
North Dakota State has had three elite quarterbacks in Carson Wentz, Easton Stick, and now Lance. NDSU has produced three straight quarterbacks that will be selected. Lance is the ultimate developmental option and would be a great fit in any of the situations where teams have an aging quarterback or bridge option. Atlanta, Minnesota, and New England are all great options.
Zach Wilson – BYU
Each year there always seems to be one quarterback that drastically impacts their stock and flies up draft boards. This year, it’s Wilson. He has transformed the BYU offense and has caught fire in the draft community, even drawing comparisons to Mahomes and Johnny Manziel. He has gotten first-round attention and has been selected as high as ninth overall in mocks.
Kyle Trask – Florida
After the “big four,” there is a dropoff. Trask had gotten some first-round buzz in the early-draft process, but it has since faded. There are still some mocks that have him going in the late-first or early day-two, but his stock has fallen off.
Mac Jones – Alabama
There were some people a few weeks ago that said Jones was a better prospect than Tagovailoa. So, there’s that. Jones is more of a pocket-passer than Tagovailoa. Teams are starting to move away from that type of quarterback once again to a mobile quarterback instead. He is an intriguing developmental option but won’t earn a starting role in year-one or likely touch the field unless an injury occurs.
There are plenty of other options like Desmond Ridder, Tanner Morgan, and Brock Purdy that have gotten some attention lately. Most likely, there will only be four quarterbacks selected in the first round in April unless Lawrence pulls a fast one. It will be another year of musical chairs at the quarterback position this offseason. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
The 2021 class is quite similar to the 2018 and 2020 class. There are several big-name prospects and a few intriguing ones that could be taken on day-two or early day-three to develop.
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