With the NFL Draft soon approaching, there are talks that up to five QBs could be drafted early in the first round. Here’s a look at my top five and my rationale for placing them where I did.
1. Trevor Lawrence- Clemson
Lawrence was an incredible leader, a National Champion, and is going to be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. Lawrence will start his career in Jacksonville, playing for Urban Meyer. The 6-foot-6 Lawrence has all the intangibles one would look for in a franchise QB, but he did make a fair share of bad throws into double coverage for INTs in his career. Still, Lawrence is a rock-solid option and if he fails as a pro it’s because playing for the Jaguars is a lot different than playing for an elite Clemson team.
2. Mac Jones- Alabama
Jones put together just about as impressive season in 2020 as LSU’s Joe Burrow had in 2019. Jones was highly accurate, read coverages astutely, handled the blitz better than any QB in college, and had functional mobility. Some look at Jones 4.68 40-yard dash and act like he’s a statue at QB, when that just isn’t accurate. Jones will have enough speed to extend plays in the pros. For example, Aaron Rodgers ran a 4.71 40-yard dash, and he has been a threat to run his entire career.
Jones had an elite supporting cast at Alabama, but he shouldn’t be penalized because of it. No matter how good receivers are, the quarterback still has a job to do, and they either have the ability to deliver or they don’t. Jones delivered in a major way. You must be doing something right if you pass for 4,500 yards, 41 TDs, and just 4 INTs. Lawrence is going to be the first QB drafted, but it would not be the least bit surprising to see Jones have the better career. Pocket QBs aren’t a dying breed, and will still be able to get things done in the NFL for generations to come. You can either ball or you cannot, and Jones can ball.
3. Justin Fields- Ohio State
Thanks to a rogue Dan Orlovsky report saying that some NFL teams question Fields’ work ethic, Fields has become one of the most interesting draft storylines. The film would indicate Fields has a high work ethic, the film would show he can get things done, and he plays injured when a lot of quarterbacks wouldn’t even stay on the field.
Most mock drafts have Fields below the likes of Trey Lance, which I find to be ludicrous. Fields put up 41 TDs to just 3 picks in 2019, and has 22 TDs in just 8 games in 2020. Sure, Lance is a better runner, but Fields rushed for 1,133 yards at Ohio State on 266 attempts. Fields played against top competition, Lance did not, which is why I’m rolling with Fields in this spot.
4. Trey Lance- North Dakota State
6-foot-4, 224 pounds, 17-0 as a starter — Lance dominated in 2019 at North Dakota State to the tune of 2,786 yards passing, and an incredibly impressive 28-0 TD:INT ratio. Lance is highly mobile (1,100 yards and 14 TDs in 2019), very strong, and has the ability to both make defenders miss and plow them over as a runner. Lance likely has the strongest arm in this draft class, but his statistics are inflated by playing inferior competition compared to the other QBs in this top five. While Lance shouldn’t be penalized for his high output, the fact he put up these numbers against lesser competition has to be taken into consideration. Further, Lance just has one year of collegiate experience. The ceiling for Lance is as high as anyone in this draft, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he faltered in the NFL is he’s rushed onto the field too quickly. Lance is raw, he doesn’t always deliver the most accurate football, but he makes as many wow plays with his arm and feet as anyone in the draft. However, for me personally, I’d take my chances with a few others before settling on Lance.
5. Zach Wilson- BYU
Wilson’s career at BYU was mediocre overall before 2020, but things changed drastically. Wilson was one of the most entertaining quarterbacks to watch and consistently delivered impressive deep balls. Wilson threw for 3,692 yards, 33 TDs, and just 3 INTs. Wilson sees the field clearly, plays well when his back is against the wall, has scrambling ability, and has proven to be clutch. Wilson may wind up being the better pro than Lance, but BYU didn’t exactly play top competition either (best opponents were No. 18 Coastal Carolina and No. 21 Boise State), so when factoring in the totality of all the variables, Lance is the one I’d perceive as having a higher ceiling and who I’d be inclined to draft if it were down to he and Wilson.