The highly touted, once every five years 2021 Quarterback Draft class fell short of having many “wow” moments last season. All of their situations have some sort of bizarre, dysfunctional x-factor either from the jump or exponentially over time. Now nearly a year and a half removed from walking across the stage to greet the commissioner, none of the futures of any of these quarterbacks seem crystal clear like they did for so many other rookie campaigns – Justin Herbert took two games to show us why he’s Patrick Mahomes biggest threat for the next decade. 


Let’s revisit and see where each of these talented, polarizing, confusing, and all in-between rising sophomores stand.


Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars – Does that even count?


There’s dysfunctional, and then there’s hysterical. 


Urban Meyer’s premature departure from the Jags felt inevitable about two months into the season. His incident at the Bar after a loss to being accused of kicking players on the team left a residue that screamed to all of the NFL that things were not gonna end well. It was laughable. And Trevor didn’t deserve any of it. 


The bright side of Trevor Lawrence is that his draft evaluation we initially had was largely personified on the field: his height, strength, and mobility were all very prominent in flashes that were used to his advantage, and he had some expected minor problems with ball placement. Some of that consistency with what he is provides some clarity to Doug Pederson and what appears to be a significantly improved coaching staff with what they have when walking into the quarterback room. 


Two top priorities are clear for Lawrence: keep a short memory and develop a strong relationship with Christian Kirk.


Zach Wilson, New York Jets – High risk, high reward in human form


Joe Douglas’ draft strategies and choices of free agents demonstrate one thing: Zack Wilson’s seat isn’t all that hot. If he doesn’t make the big sophomore lead we all feel will come, it’ll likely be Robert Saleh booted out of MetLife first. In a league where young offensive minds like Mike LaFleur are succeeding more and more by the second, the pressure’s on defensive guys to perform right away. 


Wilson, like Lawrence, was essentially what we thought he would be: fun, flashy, and situationally erratic. Many Jets fans were bothered by his tendency to play hero-ball, improvising and making things happen when it was unnecessary in ways that hurt the team. However, enough of those plays worked in his favor to keep support in the locker room. 


Wilson should in no way feel stressed, yet should be playing with a sense of focus in intention in showing who he really is while not feeling pressure to do everything. 


Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers – Who?


For the haul the 49ers pulled to get Trey Lance, the time he’s seen on the field is a mystery. He is the opposite of the first two: we have no idea what he is. 


The centerpiece of the complexity of Lance falls in his predecessor Jimmy Garrappolo, who won’t be able to throw a football for another couple of months. While Trey is getting all of the snaps at practice, Jimmy G’s salary hit (it’s not small) remains present, leaving many confused about why they don’t release him to create room to sign more pieces. The fighting possibility that he’s not as far along in progression even a year into being integrated into the system looms over the head of 49ers fans everywhere. 


While the physical traits of Lance appear to shine as heavily as they did when he was taken 3rd overall, the training staff under Kyle Shannahan have been underwhelmed with his accuracy. 


While he’s still clearly raw, the 49ers are gonna have to just push through and give him every snap he can get his hands on. 


Justin Fields, Chicago Bears – You gotta feel bad for him. 


When the Bears traded up to get Justin Fields, everyone assumed they had a tailored plan to maximize his ability and put him in the best position to win. That lasted about two seconds. 


The signing of Andy Dalton not only had the damage of staining parts of Field’s confidence but also made the trade-up to get him appear less valuable. The snaps that Field’s did take looked promising at times, his mobility being as elusive and athletic as everyone thought it would be. 


However, with no Allen Robinson, Fields currently walks without a dependable WR1 – Darnell Mooney is not sustainable in that role with Green Bay, Minnesota, and Detroit all having vastly improved defenses. Their first two picks were defensive picks – while both Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker are premier athletes who anyone would want in their locker room, they don’t address team needs. Their first receiver pick was at 71 taking Velus Jones Jr. out of Tennessee, whom many see as more of a special teams piece than a pure wideout. 


It almost seems like any evaluation of Fields is skewed as the Bears once again set their Quarterback up for failure. 


Mac Jones, New England Patriots – The world’s safest pick


The Patriots made their selection at 15 without having to move and landed their franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future: Mac Jones, who finished top three in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting.


Now what?


The problem with Mac Jones has nothing to do with what he is and what he isn’t. He’s accurate and intelligent, just as Bill Bellichick would hope for. 


The problem with Mac Jones is that that is all he is: accurate and intelligent. As we’ve now seen over the past two years, that doesn’t work anymore. Unless the Patriots start becoming self-aware about the direction of the NFL, Mac Jones will always be rookie Mac Jones.



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