Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Re-Drafting the 2021 QB Class
After 10 weeks of NFL play, would Trevor Lawrence still lead the draft class?
Trevor Lawrence. Zach Wilson. Trey Lance. Justin Fields. Mac Jones.
Five quarterbacks were selected in the first 15 picks of the 2021 NFL draft—the most since 1999 when five passers came off the board in the first 12 selections.
The class was billed as an elite one with a generational prospect in Lawrence; three new-age passers in Wilson, Lance and Fields; and a game-manager in Mac Jones. But oh how the turntables have turned in a short amount of time.
The old rule was to wait three years before evaluating a draft pick—give the player and team time to figure things out was the idea. That was before social media and before coaches were fired after one season on the job. Now, quarterbacks must hit the ground running or face being Josh Rosen’d out of town.
Not every situation is alike, and that’s important when discussing players still in their first year. Trey Lance was drafted with little expectation that he would play this year unless Jimmy Garoppolo was injured. Justin Fields was behind “QB1” Andy Dalton. And Mac Jones was behind Cam Newton when training camp started.
But as happens in football, things changed once the games started. Now, after 10 weeks, all five quarterbacks have played and four are entrenched as starters for their teams (when healthy).
Knowing what we know now, how would a re-draft of the 2021 quarterbacks look?
1. Trevor Lawrence
I polled five scouts or high-level decision-makers from NFL teams about where they would re-draft the quarterbacks and every one of them still had Lawrence as the No. 1 option. His talents are undeniable. Said one evaluator, “anyone in Jacksonville would be struggling right now. His talent isn’t the issue.”
2. Justin Fields
Three of five people polled ranked Fields as the second-best quarterback option. Said one, “Fields has the chance to be really good, he just needs help around him in terms of system and supporting cast.” If the Bears can do that—and there’s no reason to think Matt Nagy is the guy to do it as head coach—Fields could be very, very successful. He was my pre-draft QB2 and a player I still believe in; maybe even more so after seeing him operate and improve in the pros.
3. Mac Jones
Two of the five scouts polled actually ranked Jones as the QB2 in a re-draft. Situation matters, we all know that, and Jones landed in the perfect situation for his skillset as a smart, accurate, composed passer who isn’t asked to do a lot outside the pocket. Jones is talented, but he’s also in the best situation. When re-drafting, that comes into factor of course, but his play so far has been the best of all the rookie quarterbacks.
4. Trey Lance
“We knew he needed time, nothing he’s done or not done changes my opinion of him,” said one scout we spoke to. Lance was the least prepared of the top five quarterbacks to play immediately and that’s what we’re seeing in San Francisco. That said, all five people polled ranked him as QB4 in this exercise. Said one, “if he can’t beat out Jimmy G…that’s hard for me to get excited about.”
5. Zach Wilson
Situation matters. I can’t express that enough when talking about quarterback success, especially early on. Zach Wilson has struggled and is now injured—something that was my primary concern with him coming out of BYU where he had two major injuries and one really good season of play. Four of our five scouts ranked Wilson at QB5 with one placing him at QB3. The biggest question is how much of Wilson’s ranking is his talent and production thus far, or the obstacles of becoming successful as the quarterback of the New York Jets?
How would you rank them? We’d love to hear it in the comments.
What else is cooking in today’s Scouting Notebook?
Scouts worried about Kayvon Thibodeaux?
Ohio State shuts down a top EDGE prospect
Senior Bowl roster taking shape
Podcast launch details
Subscribe for just $50 a year to get every article and podcast from The Draft Scout delivered to your inbox.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Draft Scout to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.