2021 NFL Draft: Top 5 Quarterbacks

by Wayne Root

ouldn’t it be sweet if we could see all these young men develop into the likes of a Brady, Mahomes, Favre, Montana or Marino? So much talent to evaluate and every General Manager is dropping bottles of Tums sweating this week and the next few months. QB’s make the NFL teams their brand and the franchise while missing on a top draft choice will have some coaches fired down the line. We wish all these players the best this week and in the years to come. 

1. Trevor Lawrence—-Clemson
 Height: 6’6″ Weight: 213

Unless something bizarre happens, Lawrence is headed to Jacksonville where he’ll hook up with Urban Meyer and the organization will dip into its deep pool of available cash and hopefully surround him with more than just a patchwork offensive line. How quickly he learns what he can’t get away with against NFL defenses is the determinant to how good he’ll be. Lawrence is regarded as the safest bet at quarterback since Andrew Luck came out of Stanford in 2012, played seven seasons and retired before the age of 30. Lawrence threw 90 touchdowns and 17 picks in three seasons at Clemson and runs like a deer. His game and playing style is so well-rounded that he can function in virtually any offense that awaits him in the NFL. His arm is more then sufficient to run a vertical passing game. His mind is quick enough and his ball placement is good enough to work in a West Coast system.  Mechanically Lawrence is as solid as it gets, and when you study him pay attention to his footwork in the pocket. Whether throwing from clean pockets or being forced to move and reset, Lawrence stays mechanically sound in those moments from head to toe.  Hopefully, having been the number quarterback for the past two years, nothing has changed his desires or leadership qualities along with his ego. 
2. Zach Wilson——BYU
 Height:  6’2″  Weight: 214

Zach is a truly great thrower. His quick and nifty mobility is a complement to his game rather than a staple to old school drop back passer. When it comes to ball placement, accuracy, release, throwing a catchable ball he’s already there. Because of the teams quality of opponents played last season, some consider that a negative. He may have to work harder and get coached for a year on the sidelines like Mahomes did his rookie year. As a compliment, he has some Josh Rosen/Baker Mayfield to his style. Given how the league currently views Patrick Mahomes it is easy to see why Wilson is making a charge for QB1 on some boards. You can see how Wilson is reminiscent of Mahomes on almost every single throw. From the ability to make off-platform throws with ease, his willingness to create outside of the pocket, and his arm aggression, Wilson looks like a baby Mahomes on the field.

3. Justin Fields—-Ohio St
 Height: 6′ 2 3/4″ Weight: 227

His tools – strong arm, clean mechanics, accuracy, toughness, speed and power – are all there. Fields has that unknown risk factor related to how much of their brilliance is attributable to being surrounded by so much talent at OSU. His biggest claim was an eye-popping performance in the national semifinal game against Clemson which shot his stock up. After losing to Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers two seasons ago, Fields put on a show against them this past year, throwing six touchdowns, many of them after taking a brutal hit in the first half. Athleticism is one of his strengths, as Fields is a truly athletic quarterback that has drawn comparisons to Cam Newton. He posted recently a video on Twitter of him running a hand-timed 4.41 40-yard dash
4. Mac Jones—-Alabama
 Height: 6’2″ Weight: 217

In the National Championship Game against Ohio State, Jones was 36 of 45 passes for 464 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. So is that why San Francisco trade up for a chance to draft him? Jones is not very powerfully built and the ball doesn’t pop off his hand with velocity like it does for the other four guys. He seems like a guy with a high floor and a low ceiling. With no combine this year, it’s somewhat difficult to grade him. How much should be attributed to the Alabama program and two incredible wide receivers?  He literally had better skill position players in Tuscaloosa than Cam Newton had in Foxboro. Mac’s name is McCorkle — Mac for short — which is a fact that I think you should know to win a trivia bet. Beyond that, however, Jones was the best at Pro Football Focus’s Adjusted Completion Percentage last season, positing a whopping number of 84.2%. Jones’ greatest strength is his accuracy, deep ball and ability to work at all three levels. He can move a little but he’s not particularly athletic and if he’s behind a less-than-stellar line, he’s going to have little elusiveness to fall back on. 

 5. Trey Lance——North Dakota St
 Height:  6′ 3 3/8″ Weight: 224

In his last full season, Lance threw 28 touchdowns and zero picks as a redshirt freshman in 2019. Because of Covid, his team only played one game in 2020. Much like Josh Allen of Buffalo when he was drafted and could go very deep, Lance may throw the best deep ball of any of the quarterbacks in this draft. There are some clear strengths that he offers. Easy arm talent is the first such strength. All of the top four quarterbacks in this class have what you might consider “plus” arms but Lance might have the best of the bunch. Effortless velocity shows up in every game. Then there is the athletic ability. Lance is a weapon with the football in his hands, and his rushing production at NDSU backs that up.  He’s exceptionally poised in the pocket and throws with an excellent base and has played in the cold weather as did Allen in Wyoming. He’s also a better than capable runner offering that new type of quarterback that coaches want. Because of just one season of FCS football under his belt, his decision-making and reading defenses skills will need time to grow.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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