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The Eastern Echo Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

After #1, it’s anybody's race for this batch of signal-callers

Follow writer Nate Schmidt on Twitter for more NFL scouting content @CableXF0rce

As the first part of my new series highlighting the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, I’ll be taking a closer, in-depth look into each of this year’s QB prospect’s, including their strengths and weaknesses. I will also cover which teams I believe offer each prospect the best fit, ranging from where they could be drafted to matching pro comparison based on their individual talents and attributes.

  1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson, Junior

    - This one makes my job almost too easy. As the consensus first overall prospect, it’s very tough to find any holes in Lawrence’s game. After winning the National Championship in his first season with the Tigers, Lawrence ended his college career with over 10,000 passing yards and a 90-17 TD to INT ratio. With the Jacksonville Jaguars having a stranglehold on the first overall pick, I would be shocked if anyone other than Lawrence was selected in this spot come April.

      1. Biggest Strength: His elite arm

      2. Biggest Weakness: Inconsistency in big games

      3. Best Fit: Jacksonville Jaguars

      4. Pro Comp: John Elway (Denver Broncos 1983-1998)

      5. Draft Projection: Top-1

  2. QB Zach Wilson, BYU, Junior

    - Wilson burst onto the scene earlier this fall, torching defenses left and right. Wilson lit up collegiate defenses this year, posting a completion percentage of 73.5%, 33 TDs with only 3 INTs. One of the biggest risers compared to the start of the season, Wilson has steadily proven he has what it takes to be a starter at the next level.  He has a unique talent to make something out of nothing, which pairs well with his impressive intangibles and his overall football sense. Given his meteoric rise, I am dubious of the competition level Wilson faced in college. I have also noticed that he sometimes has a tendency to force a play, even if there isn’t one to be made.

      1. Biggest Strength: Playmaking through the air

      2. Biggest Weakness: Forcing the issue

      3. Best Fits: New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos

      4. Pro Comp: Discount Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers 2005-)

      5. Draft Projection: Top-10

  3. QB Justin Fields, Ohio State, Junior

    - Once you get past Trevor Lawrence, the field becomes much more closely contested. Justin Fields offers leadership qualities you love to see in a top prospect while also possessing the tools to transform an offense with his dynamic playmaking abilities. A few knocks against him include his occasional hesitance to get rid of the ball, as well as an unreliable sense of the pressure bearing down on him in the pocket. I also have my apprehensions about what Fields could do outside of Ohio State’s system given the recent pattern of past Buckeye QBs who were flops at the next level (i.e. Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett, Dwayne Haskins) as all of them have struggled to mold their game to the pros.

      1. Biggest Strength: Mobility and decision making

      2. Biggest Weakness: Pocket presence

      3. Best Fit(s): Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos

      4. Pro Comp: Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers 2011-2019)

      5. Draft Projection: Top-10

  4. QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State, Junior

    - One of the toughest prospects to gauge, Lance played sparingly at North Dakota State, offering glimpses of astonishing playmaking while also highlighting some truly head scratching decision making at times. Lance offers a unique upside that is tough to match along with the measurements to make front offices drool. Seen more as a long term project, Lance has a long way to go before proving he is capable as a starter. Overall I think that one team is going to take a chance on Lance, and if he lands in the right situation, he can eventually blossom into a special player.

      1. Biggest Strength: Superstar potential

      2. Biggest Weakness: Raw skillset

      3. Best Fits: Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots

      4. Pro Comp: Discount Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills 2018-)

      5. Draft Projection: 1st Round

  5. QB Mac Jones, Alabama, Senior

    - A steady if unspectacular prospect, Jones offers stability and consistency that certain teams would love to get their hands on. Jones' accuracy and decision making will serve him well at the next level, however, he offers limited excitement and won't wow you in any one particular aspect. His average athleticism may limit his effectiveness against NFL caliber athletes.

      1. Biggest Strength: Pinpoint accuracy

      2. Biggest Weakness: Average-to-below average athleticism

      3. Best Fit(s): Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers

      4. Pro Comp: Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams 2010-2014)

      5. Draft Projection: 1st Round

One Sleeper Prospect to keep an eye on

  1. QB Jamie Newman, Wake Forest, Senior (3rd-to-4th Round)

    1. After entering the transfer portal and choosing Georgia following the 2019 season, Newman sat out the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Although he didn’t look especially sharp in Senior Bowl practices, I’m willing to give Newman a chance to shake off the rust, as I believe that he possesses the tools to be an above average backup and spot starter at the next level.

With a potential 5 QBs being drafted in the first round, this year’s crop of signal-callers could be one for the ages as QB desperate teams can look to score their future face of the franchise. After Lawrence is off of the board I will be very interested to see if certain teams make a bold move to grab one of these young gunslingers. I’ll be posting more articles in The Assembly Line as I break down the 2021 group of Running Back prospects.