Just a few months ago five quarterbacks were taken in the first 15 picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. Three months later, all five have seen time on the field in the 2021 NFL season. Let’s break down and rank their play through Week 2.
- Mac Jones: 15th Pick- New England Patriots
Not much of a surprise here. Mac Jones and the New England Patriots start their season out 1-1. A Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins and a Week 2 win against the New York Jets and fellow first-round QB Zach Wilson.
Jones is 51-69 a 74% completion percentage. He’s thrown for 467 yards total and has one touchdown. Jone’s averages a 6.8 Y/Att which is about average. Out of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round, Jones is the first to win one as a starting QB.
What has allowed Mac Jones to be successful?
- Cam Newton
Newton being cut before the start of the regular season was the Patriots front office communicating to Jones that this is his franchise. Whether Belichick or the front office intended this move to have this impact, it is clear it has had an automatic positive impact for Jones. His hard work, presence, and confidence have the locker room, coaching staff, and front office all in.
- Bill Belichick
Belichick put in work this offseason to assure that their rookie quarterback would have the resources to be successful. The Patriot’s offense isn’t asking anything out of Jones that he hasn’t done in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with Nick Saban. Getting the ball out of his hands quickly, finding playmakers, and making smart decisions. Jones has zero turnovers in two games.
Mac Jones was my pick to be the most effective quarterback in year one, but I don’t believe he has the most talent. Good news for Patriots fans, he doesn’t need it to be successful.
- Justin Fields: 11th Pick- Chicago Bears
Although Justin Fields has not started a game over veteran Andy Dalton, he will get his first nod in Cleveland. In Week 1 Fields barely played. But in Week 2 Bears fans got a chance to see Fields takeover due to Dalton’s knee injury.
Through two games, Fields is 8-15 for 70 yards and a 53% completion percentage. He has a rushing touchdown and an interception also. Due to the lack of snaps and attempts the numbers aren’t really worth looking much into.
If you watched Fields in Week 2 we saw the passing ability was there. Allen Robinson dropped a 40+ yard touchdown pass that Fields threw almost perfectly. There we a few other balls that would have really changed the outlook on Fields’ numbers against the Bengals in Week 2.
When will Fields be the Bears starter?
Yesterday Bears head coach Matt Nagy announced that Fields will start Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns. Up to this point, I strongly believe that Chicago has handled their QB situation poorly. Their roster is totally capable of competing in the NFC North, but Dalton will not elevate the players around him like Fields has the ability to do.
Matt Nagy and the Bears should have started the guy that they believe gives them the best chance to win football games since day one, and that is Fields. To wait until Week 3 on the road against a really good Browns team with the Lions on the schedule next week… the timing to me just doesn’t make sense.
We have reason to think that the only reason they waited as long as possible on letting Fields loose is that the Bears knew once they go to Fields there’s no going back. But Fields starting this week is what they have to do. Fields will learn by playing, not by sitting behind Dalton.
- Zach Wilson: 2nd Pick- New York Jets
Zach Wilson has not lit up the stat sheets or eyes of Jets fans, but he has shown flashes of unbelievable playmaking ability. His season started slowly in Carolina against a very good Panthers defense.
The Jets were held scoreless in the first half but Wilson came back and threw two touchdowns in the second half and the Jets only lost by one score. In Week 2 Wilson threw four interceptions. There is no excuse for that, but the Patriots defense handled the Jets short handed offensive line.
How can Wilson turn it around?
Robert Saleh and the rest of the Jets coaching staff must put Wilson in a better position to be successful than they have the first two weeks. The Jets need to establish the ground game and not be so concerned about beating teams in the air.
They have to establish Wilson’s confidence earlier in the game than what they have so far.
Throwing check-downs early and allowing receivers and tight ends to make plays for him would be a start. I have confidence Saleh will do whatever is in the best interest of his quarterback. It’s clear this Jets roster is not good, but they have to allow Wilson to start doing his thing, he is an extraordinary talent and has one of the highest upsides in this draft if the Jets organization can figures things out around him.
- Trevor Lawrence: 1st Pick- Jacksonville Jaguars
Through two games Lawrence has not looked good. However, his slow start does not hold a lot of weight. Lawrence is 42-84, a 50% completion percentage with four touchdowns and five interceptions. Not the start Jaguars fans and fantasy football owners were looking for.
The Jaguars have lost each of their first two games by more than one score against the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos. Through two starts Lawrence ranks last in QBR. Still, there is nothing to be worried about with Lawrence.
Lawrence had never lost a regular-season game as a QB before entering the NFL. He starts his NFL career 0-2. The difference here is that expectations for his team are low. Playing both games from behind is a tall order for a rookie QB. The hope is Lawrence will take this year as a learning experience and that could make a difference in the long run.
Not only is losing games new to Lawrence, but it’s also new to former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. If the losing continues, how they handle it will have a huge impact on which direction Lawrence’s career will go in.
I believe Lawrence is the best quarterback in this class. He has all the tools, it could take some time, but his day will come. The Jaguars did have the last pick for a reason. They have now lost 17 straight games.
- Trey Lance: 3rd Pick- San Francisco 49ers
Trey Lance is simply placed last on this list due to playing time. You would have to think head coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49er’s front office plan to make Lance the franchise quarterback since they aggressively moved up in the 2021 draft and selected Lance third overall.
There is a big difference between the Lance and Fields situation, Fields played in the BIG 10 with plenty of elite experience in the CFP. Lance played for three years at North Dakota State. However, he only played 18 games in three years due to injuries and COVID-19 only allowing him to play one game in the 2020 season.
Lance was dominant in college but did not have the experience these other four QB’s have had. That does not take away from his talent and potential at all. I believe his ceiling is second to Lawrence’s in this draft class.
Lance’s development does not need to be rushed due to the situation he is in. Jimmy Garoppolo has already proven he is good enough to not hold a team back from being a contender. The belief is Lance will put this team over the top, but there is no need for a rush with Garoppolo at the helm. Starting Fields over Dalton is a lot easier to do than starting Lance over Garoppolo up to this point.