The 2021 preseason brought a lot of hype, especially regarding the top rookie QB's from the 2021 NFL Draft class. The intrigue of how each of the top rookie QB's would perform in each of the last three weeks has been at the top of NFL headlines. So today, I will deliver my final review of the top 2021 NFL Draft QB's after three weeks of preseason football.
A 2021 Pre-Draft Summary Review and How Each Of the QB's Performed In their Week One Preseason Debut's
I highlighted the debuts of each of the top NFL rookie QB's all of which are vying for a starting position. Many may or may not know that I had Trevor Lawrence listed as the top QB in the 2021 NFL Draft, followed by Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, and Trey Lance. My 2021 NFL Draft argument in summary for each player is as follows.
Trevor Lawrence (has all the tools)
Justin Fields (tough, intelligent, athletic, conflict player, with great accuracy)
Zach Wilson (Arm talent, precision passer, extends plays with legs, did not play against the best competition at BYU, needs time to develop)
Mac Jones (Anticipatory thrower, intelligent, a statue with good pocket movement)
Trey Lance (Athlete, strong arm, needs work on short, intermediate game, great deep accuracy, needs to develop, competition level in college a factor)
How the Rookie QB's Rank Post Preseason
No change in the rankings.
Jacksonville Jaguars Trevor Lawrence in a Bad Spot As A Rookie
3 GP, 3 GS, 31-44, 70.5% comp rte, 323 pass yds, 3 pass TD's, 0 INT's, 9 rush yds, 0 rush TD's, 3 Sacks, 106.5 QBR
One thing is prominent; Trevor Lawrence is in a bad spot in Jacksonville, and he has the potential to struggle mightily. Lawrence made some great throws throughout and finished week three strong vs. the Cowboys completing 11-12 passes for 139 yards and two TD's. Even though it was against the Cowboy's backups, Lawrence showed us his potential completing two-deep balls, one for a TD.
Chicago Bears Justin Fields In a Bad Spot As A Rookie, But Athleticism Covers Up Bears Deficiencies
3 GP, 1 GS, 30-49, 61.2% Comp Rte, 276 Pass Yds, 2 pass TD's, 0 INT's, 92 rush yds, 1 rush TD, 3 sacks, 90.2 QBR
Andy Dalton might start week one, but Justin Fields will take the reigns before you know it. Fields can do a lot with his legs; he can extend plays when pass pro breaks down and move the chains in crucial third-down situations. When Fields has time, he does a good job making decisions from the pocket. He is in no way a perfect player, but the Bears got a good one who has the potential to be the best QB in the class down the road.
New York Jets QB Zach Wilson Proved He Might Be More NFL Ready Than Expected
2 GP, 2 GS, 15-20, 75% comp rte, 191 pass yds, 2 TD's, 0 INT's, 0 rush yds, 0 rush TD's, 0 sacks, 137.7 QBR
The Jets will be the worst team in their division, but Wilson provides great optimism in the same way that Justin Fields does for the Bears. His accuracy, ability to extend plays and decisiveness as a thrower in the preseason have stood out. He has a great rapport with free agent WR Corey Davis which is a big deal. And he has already made some big-time tight-window throws in the preseason. Wilson, like, Lawrence is in a bad spot on a somewhat unpredictably bad team.
New England Patriots QB Mac Jones Is as Efficient As Advertised Coming Into The NFL
3 GP, 0 GS, 36-52, 69.2% comp rte, 389 pass yds, 1 pass TD, 0 INT's, 3 rush yds, 0 rush TD's, 5 sacks, 97.4 QBR
I believed that Mac Jones would be the most NFL-ready rookie entering the NFL. For starters, he is a distributor by nature. He does not possess any of the jaw-dropping physical tools that the other top QB's in the 2021 NFL Draft have. Still, his anticipatory throwing and pocket awareness is precisely why the Patriots drafted him. He also takes care of the football, and that is important to a defensive-minded team. The reality is, can he consistently move the football in a real NFL game? And when needed, can he drive the football vertically when presented with the opportunity? He proved he could do all these things in the preseason. Assuming he has done enough to surpass veteran QB Cam Newton, will it translate to the regular season?
San Francisco 49er QB Trey Lance Is As Advertised, Will Be a Co-Starter (Lance Gets Three Paragraphs)
3 GP, 0 GS, 19-41, 46.3% comp rte, 276 pass yds, 3 pass TD's, 1 INT, 16 rush yds, 1 rush TD, 6 sacks, 83.0 QBR
After watching the 49ers vs. the Raiders yesterday, I see the vision and how alternating QB's in Shanahan's system can work. I also witnessed a few things that might not be so beneficial in the regular season. You can do some creative stuff regarding breaking tendencies and keeping defenses on their heels with an alternating QB system. But as I witnessed vs. the Raiders, a false start penalty on a drive that could have been the result of two QB's alternating and the difference in their cadence could be an issue down the road in a critical moment.
In addition, I watched the 49ers alternate to Trey Lance when Jimmy G had a nice rhythm going, and that can be an issue as well. Outside of that, I think there is something to what Shanahan is doing, and because Lance needs time to develop, alternating the two can be beneficial to his growth.
I believe that Shanahan has something great brewing with his idea of rotating the two QB's. Lance is by far the one guy I have been keeping an eye on. I thought Shanahan should have taken Fields if he wanted to go the athlete at QB route, I believe Fields is far more NFL ready, but he chose Lance, who possesses a big arm and a tough running style ahead of the more NFL ready guys.
Justin Fields and Zach Wilson proved they have what it takes to be starting NFL QB's. They show NFL-ready traits and other developmental qualities. Mac Jones proved he is what he is, an efficient player who distributes the football and protects the football. Trevor Lawrence had ups and downs, but his talent is undeniable. Lawrence is in a bad spot; he will get a reprieve more than the other guys due to his situation unless he completely flops in the regular season. Trey Lance needs more development on short, intermediate throws but did improve every week. Trey Lance has a big arm and great deep accuracy, something we knew entering the 2021 NFL preseason.
QB Whose Stock Improved The Most In Preseason
Zach Wilson improved his stock the most in the preseason, he and Lawrence will both be rookie starters out of the gate, and it was important for both to show they could handle that responsibility as rookies, and both proved they have the ability. Wilson completed 75% of his throws, and posted a 137.7 QBR on 20 pass attempts in two preseason starts.
Every One Of the Top Rookie QB's Might Start At Some Point In 2021
Every one of these guys might be the starter for their respective teams in 2021 at some point. With Justin Fields pushing to be the starter and pressure mounting on Matt Nagy from the media and Bears faithful, it might come to fruition in week one and the rumors of Mac Jones taking the reigns as early as week one for the Patriots. We already know Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence are the starters for the Jets and Jaguars, it is Trey Lance who is on the bubble even though he will get a lot of snaps in 2021 if the alternating QB approach is indeed the route Kyle Shanahan plans to go.
2021 NFL Draft QB Rankings Remain The Same Following Preseason
My rookie QB rankings haven't changed based on the data in the preseason. I am confident, based on the situation, that Lawrence will struggle. Zach Wilson has some pieces to be successful, but the Jets overall roster will provide some inconsistent moments, and Justin Fields is in a similar situation to Zach Wilson in that I believe he has some nice parts around him, but the OL is a question mark and the coaching staff decision making does not provide a lot of confidence. Mac Jones and Trey Lance are in the best positions to be successful as rookies.