Ranking the Top 7 Quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draftby Alex Barbour March 13, 2021 0 comments
With rumors of five quarterbacks being taken in the first 10 picks of the 2021 NFL draft, this list may be one of the biggest struggles for teams to figure out. Variations from Trey Lance at No. 2 to Kellen Mond at No. 4 even have draft experts disagreeing on a solidified ranking. The top spot could even be uncertain as the draft gets closer and closer. This is a fun, talented class.
1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Is there really a discussion for this spot? Surprisingly, yes. With Lawrence being the best prospect in many years, it appears obvious that hype fatigue has rotted the headlines to make this ranking a tough one. He is the best prospect overall; polished, strong, athletic, and smart. He does tend to stick to his first read, but many quarterbacks in college seem to have this issue, given how well-schemed offenses are nowadays.
Lawrence should have no problem transitioning to the next level, especially in a division (if he is selected by Jacksonville) that appears to be up in the air. One thing of note about the two-time national champion is that he uplifted the talent around him. He had a subpar roster overall, yet got them to the playoff. People tend to forget that before Deshaun Watson, Clemson was not a CFP favorite every year. Lawrence is a stud.
2. Zach Wilson, BYU
The headlines will make it seem like Wilson is on Lawrence’s heels, but he is not. Do not get it wrong: Wilson is an absolute monster. In most drafts he should be the number one pick. He has the throw power, accuracy, processor, and mobility to make it work at the next level. Questions arise with his offensive line, because they allowed barely any pressure on him.
The level of competition will always be a concern, but he made the most of every play. Even in his worst games, Wilson still made some jaw-dropping throws. This kid is special. He does not have great arm strength, he throws balls that endanger his players, and can get too confident in his abilities (which leads to dangerous, arrogant plays). Lock Wilson in as an eventual top 10 quarterback if he ends up in the right spot.
3. Justin Fields, Ohio State
Fields has the greatest potential in the class. Starting this season, he was competing with Lawrence for the number one spot. In the games against the toughest defenses, Fields struggled (apart from Clemson). His first-read mentality was highlighted by Northwestern’s defense, who took that away. Interceptions and poor processing ensued. The arm talent is arguably is the best in the class overall. Few can throw the ball versus Clemson over 65 yards down field at high velocity on target.
The problem lies in his processor. Fields is a dynamic athlete with a subpar evasive maneuver, but he has so many physical gifts that are undeniable. If he is able to sit and learn from an elite processor like Matt Ryan, he may just develop into the best quarterback in the class.
4. Trey Lance, NDSU
Lance is the biggest boom or bust prospect at the position. He is so “hot and cold” that a viewer cannot take their eyes off him. The North Dakota State product’s pro day perfectly demonstrated his best traits and some of his worst: His arm strength is the best in the class, and he can throw the streak down the left side of the field amazingly, but he is very spotty with his accuracy and tends to throw too high. That may lead to getting players injured.
He did not throw an interception for his first 16 starts, but there were plenty of turnover-worthy plays that did not hurt the stat sheet. Lance’s greatest asset is his legs. When his arm fails, he can take over a game with his feet. That is NFL-starter talent. He is way too raw right now, but the potential is certainly noticeable.
5. Mac Jones, Alabama
Jones is a stereotypical pocket passer. His athleticism is underrated, but so is his injury history, as the signal-caller was injured multiple times in the past during mobile maneuvers. He did end up playing through one of the injuries, and that is noteworthy. Jones is an extremely accurate passer; he put almost every ball in a catchable radius.
His problem is ball placement. When a target like Devonta Smith is wide open with 5 yards of separation, Jones tends to underthrow the receiver by three yards, allowing a defender to potentially make a play. Plainly put, that kind of separation does not happen in the NFL. Jones did improve his placement as he accumulated starts, but his elite weapon core was a big help.
6. Kyle Trask, Florida
Trask fell off the face of the drafting Earth when he got benched in his final game. He has a lot of likable qualities: Solid ball placement, solid decision making, and an unending work ethic. From sitting behind D’Eriq King in high school to sitting behind Feleipe Franks at Florida, Trask does not allow depth chart position to stop him from competing.
His arm strength is average and he does make some head-scratching plays. Mechanics issues also have popped up, especially in regards to using his front leg. There is hope for Trask if he can tweak his mechanics and improve his decision-making, but the tape has shown that these issues are severely worse than the top-five in this class.
7. Davis Mills, Stanford
This is a competition between Mills and Kellen Mond. Mills won out the spot because he has had only 11 starts, yet he looked NFL-quality. His poise, size, arm strength, and ball placement were all draft day two quality. Mills’ play against Washington was one of the best unspoken performances of the year. In a system like the Titans behind Ryan Tannehill, he may have immense success. The sky’s the limit for a very raw yet prepared prospect who showed immense development over the few starts he had in the past two years.
Overall, this quarterback class is very top-heavy. Apart from the top eight quarterbacks (the top seven and Mond), there is not too much upside with many of the prospects. These eight can potentially start for a franchise, but the decline after Jones is a very noticeable one, which will push teams to have to get their guy early.
This chasm will certainly spark interest in the first round unlike ever before. In the end, many of these prospects will probably phase out of the league, but these eight all have the potential to make a lasting career, which is hard to say about many quarterback classes. This year will certainly be a very interesting one to see how these players develop and whether they flourish or crumble to the intensities of the NFL.