The first positional breakdown is a look at the top of the quarterback class for the 2021 NFL Draft. For the Green Bay Packers, will we see 5 or 6 quarterbacks selected to push more talented players to pick 29, and will the Detroit Lions or Chicago Bears take a QB in the first round?
Welcome back to the NFL offseason. While the Green Bay Packers fell short of their ultimate goal, the extended season leaves us right at the door of the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
I’m joining Game On Wisconsin to provide some draft insights, and the first couple of months are going to be positional previews. My goal in this process is to familiarize everyone with the top draft prospects at each position, so by the time my draft rankings come out you will know a little bit about who these prospects are.
I’m starting with Quarterback. Now, we are all hoping the Green Bay Packers don’t draft another QB with a high pick, but understanding where some of these players go in the draft will help us to know who might still be available when Brian Gutekunst is on the clock.
Trevor Lawrence – Clemson
Film Breakdown: Lawrence has been pro ready since his Freshman year at Clemson. He’s tall, has an efficient throwing motion, makes the correct reads, throws accurate balls all over the field, and has the arm strength to get it to where it needs to go. He can run by design, take on tacklers with physicality, but he always keeps his eyes down field when navigating the pocket. At times he has some slow reads, and sometimes Clemson makes his reads too easy. Has always played with NFL talent.
Evaluation: So, far Trevor Lawrence has the highest grade I’ve ever given a QB. No prospect is ever guaranteed to succeed in the NFL, but Lawrence is a slam dunk first pick like John Elway and Peyton Manning.
Justin Fields – Ohio State
Film Breakdown: Fields has the ability to beat you with his legs on designed runs and by exploiting man coverage. His release is ultra quick and he throws incredibly well on the run (both to the right and left). My main concern is he drops his eyes very quickly when the pocket breaks down. That’s a tough habit to break at the next level. He needs to go to an offense that will utilize RPOs and read options early in his career. He’d benefit from 4-6 games as a backup before starting.
Evaluation: Fields will be my QB2 by a wider margin than most, but offensive fit is going to be a key to his career. I view him as a Deshaun Watson type QB who will be able to beat you with his arms and his legs. I think the Jets could take him at #2 or a trade down with a team that could utilize his skillset.
Zach Wilson – BYU
Film Breakdown: Wilson moves well within the pocket and is athletic enough to win on designed runs. He’ll frustrate defenses by extending plays and can make many of the throws on the run. His arm strength is just okay. He places the ball accurately most of the time, but has a funky arm angle and a really efforted throwing motion. He’s a rah-rah guy on the field and teammates will love him (there’s a little Baker Mayfield there), but he also tries to do too much at some crucial points and can make mistakes (think early career Josh Allen). Overall, I think he’s going to need more time to develop than many other evaluators do.
Evaluation: I have a significant gap between Fields and Wilson. I know a lot of people are going to disagree on that, but I’d be more comfortable with Zach Wilson in the middle of the first round, than a top three pick. However, I believe a team that is a good scheme fit is going to fall in love with his intangibles and he’ll be off the board by pick four.
Trey Lance – North Dakota State
Film Breakdown: Lance has great throw power. He’s a functional athlete that is good enough to run the read option and has the strength and quickness to make people miss in the pocket. His mechanics need some work which shows up with some innaccurate throws. I’m not sure what he’s asked to read on the field, but he seems to make one or two reads and pull it down. Saw him under center at times. He’s going to need some time to learn to read NFL defenses, and fix some of the mechanical issues.
Evaluation: Only being able to play one college game and having a very limited pre-draft process might have hurt Trey Lance in past years. However, his tools are undeniable, and there are plenty of offensive coaches who will want to develop Lance. I fully expect him to go in the top ten, perhaps even in the top four. That is really interesting to me because he really is a very similar prospect to last year’s Green Bay Packers first round pick, Jordan Love.
Kyle Trask – Florida
Film Breakdown: Trask has a prototypical QB body. Huge dude, throws it over-the-top. He looks like he has a big arm at times, but some weird mechancial issues often cause the ball to be underthrown or way off target on boundary throws. That needs to get fixed. He’s not the athlete so many modern NFL QBs are, so he’ll have to stay within the pocket to flourish. He struggles when the play breaks down because he lacks the mobility to get out of the pocket, but he still drops his eyes. Is he Mason Rudolph?
Evaluation: Trask has exciting arm talent, but when is the last time a non-mobile quarterback excelled in the NFL? Phillip Rivers or Eli Manning? I wouldn’t touch him in the first round, but it will be interesting to see if there is a team that will.
Mac Jones – Alabama
Film Breakdown: Jones is a smart, makes the right decisions, and understands how to function within an offense. He lacks athleticism and arm strength, but in a scheme where he can hand to a strong running game, and he needs to get the ball out of his hands quickly, he could be succesful. More likely a career backup who has short stints of success. Reminds me of Chase Daniel.
Evaluation: Jones got a lot of push as a prospect for being a distributor to some of the best weapons in college football. I don’t doubt Jones could be a starter in the NFL, but I don’t’ see a path for him to ever be a top 20 starting QB in the league. To me, that potential production is only worth mid-round pick, but it seems destined that some team will reach with a late first or second round pick and draft a guy that doesn’t have a very high ceiling.
The number of quarterbacks drafted before pick 29 will determine how many top players could potentially slide to the Green Bay Packers. It is also worth noting the Lions and Bears may be in the market for a first round signal caller, so even though we expect Green Bay not to take a QB, I’ll be watching the predraft process on the guys taking the snaps.