2021 NFL Draft
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

This year’s quarterback class is relatively strong. It is quite possible that the first four picks in the 2021 NFL Draft are all quarterbacks. That being said, there is far from a consensus top-five. Naturally, with so much talent and potential, it is difficult to rank players that have all had incredible college careers in their own right. It seems only right, then, that I share my personal ranking on this year’s signal callers.

  1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

No surprise here. Trevor Lawrence has been seen as a potential first overall pick since the second he stepped onto Clemson’s campus. The narrative has not changed in his three seasons as the Tigers’ signal caller. Lawrence has been spectacular as a college quarterback, tallying a total of 90 touchdowns against only 17 interceptions, a 67% completion rate and over 10,000 passing yards on his way to a whopping 34-2 record as starter. What’s more impressive is that his only two losses as a starter came in the College Football Playoffs. The first was against potentially one of the best college football teams ever (LSU led by Joe Burrow) in the 2020 National Championship Game and the second was against a very good Ohio State team in this year’s semi-final. In fact, the Lawrence-led Clemson Tigers have never not been in the CFP, winning a National Championship in 2018. On top of his impressive resum√©, Lawrence has all the physical tools as well. Standing at 6-6 and around 225 pounds, Trevor Lawrence is the definition of a blue chip prospect for NFL scouts.

All he does is win, he’s got great stats and great measurables and has been dominating the best competition in college football for three years. If this doesn’t scream ‘first overall pick’ I’m not sure what would. Lawrence will undoubtedly be the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

2. Justin Fields, Ohio State

There has been some debate here over the past few weeks. For a while, it seemed as though Fields could even challenge Lawrence for the number one spot on this list. Since then, he has fallen on many draft boards. My answer to those who have lowered him in their rankings is this: let’s not overthink this. Justin Fields is a 6-3, 230 pound quarterback who runs a 4.4 and had ridiculous production in college where, like Trevor Lawrence, he was playing against some of the best competition in college football. Despite only playing in 22 games at Ohio State due to the Big Ten’s late start this year, Field threw a whopping 67 touchdowns (that’s roughly 3 touchdowns a game, for those who are paying attention) against only 9 interceptions and actually holds a much better passer rating and completion percentage than Trevor Lawrence. On top of that, he holds a record of 20-2 as a starter.

While I am not convinced that teams will share my point of view come April, I think it would be a grave mistake for teams to pass on Fields if he is available at the time of their pick. Like Lawrence, he is a proven winner with all the tools and will be a solid NFL quarterback at the very least.

3. Zach Wilson, BYU

While I recognize the talent here, which was painfully obvious in his incredible pro day performance, I always have a hard time buying into the hype with some of these small-school quarterbacks. Yes, Wilson did have an incredible season this year, he led his team to an awesome record and clearly is very talented. The problem is, BYU did not have a particularly difficult schedule (almost all of the teams they played had a clear talent deficit, especially against BYU’s offence). This leads me to wonder how much of his high level play this year was because of HIS elite talent and, more importantly, how much of his success was due to the fact that he was surrounded with superior talent to almost every team on their schedule. After all, this was Wilson’s first year that warranted ‘elite’ status. Prior to 2020, his career was defined by injuries and mediocre play, throwing only 23 touchdowns in his first 16 starts at BYU. You’ll never hear me say that major improvement isn’t possible through hard work, but such a jump makes me think that his production this year has at least something to do with the talent deficit between BYU and the teams on their schedule this year.

Now, that is not to say that I think he shouldn’t be considered a blue-chip prospect. While I do not think that a pro-day is a great indicator of future success for QBs, Zach Wilson’s was absolutely spectacular. He clearly has the physical and technical tools to succeed in the NFL. Honestly, I think that the ceiling here is very high. It will just take some time.

4. Mac Jones, Alabama

Before this year, I got the impression that Mac Jones was something of an afterthought on most NFL draft boards. Before this past year, Jones had only started four games in Tuscaloosa, making it very difficult to predict where he was in terms of pro viability. That being said, he did everything he possibly could have this year to prove himself. As a full-time starter, Jones would end up throwing 41 touchdowns against only 4 interceptions, 4500 yards (to league the entire FBS) and an incredible 77% completion rate on his way to leading the Crimson Tide to a perfect record and a National Championship. I honestly don’t know what more you could ask for. He also impressed at Alabama’s pro day, measuring in at 6-3, 217 pounds and running a 4.68 forty-yard dash.

Now, to be fair, Mac Jones doesn’t necessarily ‘pop off the page’. He is extremely consistent and extremely accurate, but it is hard to draw a lot of focus when your leading receiver is the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner. It is no secret, Jones definitely benefited from having the most elite talent in the country. Alabama is an absolute factory and they are known for having the best recruiting class every single year.

Here are the differences between Jones and Wilson: on the one hand, while Jones also had talent deficits around him against almost every team he played this year, Mac Jones not only played better, he also won. Every. Single. Game. On the other hand, I think it is pretty obvious that Wilson’s ceiling is quite a bit higher than Jones’. Mac Jones’ MO is consistency, accuracy and good decision making. These are by no means ‘inferior’ traits for an NFL quarterback; in fact, they are arguably the most important factors. The reason that Wilson may win in this department, however, is based on his clear arm talent and athleticism, both integral parts of the constantly-changing NFL game. Teams will be attracted to Wilson over Jones based on the former’s ceiling.

5. Kyle Trask, Florida

I think that Kyle Trask is possibly one of the most underrated prospects that I have ever seen in my time following the NFL Draft. The kid is an absolute grinder with a great story that shows character traits that NFL teams would eat up. At the time of his first start at Florida in 2019, Trask had not started a game since his freshman year of high school. Some would say that this is a knock on him, but when your competition is D’Eriq King, I feel like it may be a little less damning. Trask would go on to start 22 games for the Gators with a 17-5 record while throwing 69 touchdowns, almost 7400 yards and a 68% completion rate. 2020 was especially good to Kyle Trask, some analysts even drawing comparisons to a Joe Burrow type season before a few tough losses down the stretch. All in all, Trask would go on to lead the FBS in passing touchdowns on his way to a Cotton Bowl appearance. He absolutely torched elite teams as evidenced by his 475 yard, 4 touchdown performance against a great Georgia defence.

Trask, like all of the guys on this list, has an elite set of NFL physical tools. Standing at 6-5 and 240 pounds, Trask has the ideal size for a pocket-passer quarterback in the NFL.

I’m not sure where he’ll land on draft day. Trask could very well be a day-two pick. All I’m saying is that if Florida had won that shootout against Alabama in the SEC championship, many more people would agree with me as far as Trask’s NFL potential.

Honourable Mention: Trey Lance, North Dakota State

Ah yes… I’m sure many of you were waiting to see why I had Lance so far down on the list until you realized that that number 5 spot went to my guy Kyle Trask.

Here’s why Trey Lance is not in my top five:

Like I said with Wilson, it is very difficult to get a solid evaluation on players who do not play for Power Five schools, let alone players that were not even in the FBS. If I were an NFL GM, I would have a hard time spending a first round pick on a guy who played in the FCS. This evaluation is made harder by the fact that Lance only played one game this year against a mediocre FCS team where he didn’t exactly light it up. For me, he had a big moment and he kind of let it get too big for him (as big a game against Central Arkansas can be, I suppose).

Like I’ve said for a lot of these guys, he has the measurables in a big way. Trey Lance’s ceiling is very high, maybe higher than anybody on this list, but GMs will have to ask themselves whether the time that will be necessary to transform Trey Lance from a guy who played a single FCS game this year to an NFL starter will be worth it.