2021 NFL Draft Quarterback Rankings
Jay LaPrete/AP

2021 NFL Draft: Quarterback Rankings

The time has come. After months of film watching, debating on Twitter, and rewriting rankings after rankings, I am finally ready to share my 2021 NFL Draft positional rankings, starting with the quarterbacks.

Everything I release within the next month-and-a-half will be final, and you all should hold me to that. I have watched all I will watch, and am eager to share my analysis with you all.

The 2021 quarterback class is amazing. Three quarterbacks received first round grades for me, and two received second round grades. I think that, with the right fit, at least two of these prospects will be among the best signal callers in the league. If you disagree with any of these rankings or predictions, feel free to reach out to the site or myself on Twitter and we can discuss. Now, let’s begin by discussing my number one prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft class.

1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence has been the top quarterback in the 2021 draft class for the past three years. There are not enough amazing things to say about this generational prospect. Lawrence is a 6’6″ athletic quarterback with a cannon for an arm, stellar accuracy, and sneaky good mobility inside and outside of the pocket. He lost just two games in his three seasons starting under center for Clemson and has been a leader on and off the field. Lawrence’s football IQ is off the charts as are his gifted abilities as a passer.

Yes, Lawrence played in a relatively easy system at Clemson, but that’s not something I can knock him for. His ability to extend plays and make difficult throws is second-to-none, and he should find himself as Jacksonville’s most successful quarterback in team history.

2. Justin Fields, Ohio State

The hate that Justin Fields receives is incredibly surprising to me. I’ve heard that his deep ball is wildly inaccurate and he is not capable of going through multiple progressions on a play. Yes, he looked bad in the Northwestern game in 2020, but, if you watched him beat the breaks off of Clemson or any other game in the past two seasons, you should know that this is not the case. Fields is more than capable of running an NFL offense due to his ability to throw inside and outside of the pocket. Fields is a major threat on the ground as well as throwing outside of the numbers.

His mechanics are fundamentally sound and, despite his tendencies to throw to the first read, Fields is great at reading coverages and looking off the safety or nickel defender. His abilities as a dual-threat quarterback will serve to be vitally important at the next level, as opposing teams may blitz the house on him early in his career. I love Fields as a quarterback prospect and would not hesitate to draft him with the second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

3. Zach Wilson, BYU

BYU’s Zach Wilson is my third ranked quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft class and my last quarterback with a first round grade. In my scouting report on Wilson, I wrote that he has an incredible amount of raw talent, but will need to get better on his decision making (as most college quarterbacks need to do). His arm strength is on pace, if not better than the two names above him, and Wilson is also a mobile, dual-threat signal caller.

He needs to become more comfortable throwing from the pocket, as he often would leave a clean pocket in favor of a scramble or throw on the run last season. His frame does not concern me, as the height of a quarterback is becoming increasingly less important in the modern NFL. Unlike most, I do not think Wilson is a set-it-and-forget-it starter day one in the NFL. However, the upside is clearly there, as this strong-armed passer has the potential to be a great quarterback at the next level.

4. Trey Lance, North Dakota State

North Dakota State’s Trey Lance received an early second round grade for me, even though he’s a lock for round one. I love Trey Lance’s natural ability, but he will need to land on the right team in order to be successful in the NFL. The redshirt sophomore started just one season (and one game in 2020) at quarterback for an FCS program. Despite the fact that he has not faced top tier competition, Lance is still a legit prospect.

His arm talent is incredible and he has arguably the greatest athletic ability of any prospect. However, he was not asked to throw a whole lot for NDSU and often did not have to face any complex defenses. When watching his 2019 film, I had some questions about his throwing mechanics and felt that his release may be too exaggerated. At his pro day, however, we saw some flawless mechanics and some very polished reps inside the simulated pocket. Lance will need to sit behind a seasoned veteran, and preferably a mobile one, next season. For me, Lance is 2021’s biggest hit or miss prospect, but I like his chances in the right environment.

5. Mac Jones, Alabama

Besides maybe Zach Wilson, no quarterback improved their 2021 NFL Draft stock more than Alabama’s Mac Jones. Jones started every game this season for the Crimson Tide en route to their Championship victory over Ohio State. Jones received a late second round grade from me, as I think he has the football IQ of an NFL quarterback. Most likely, he will be selected in the first round, which is concerning to me. Unlike the quarterbacks above, Jones is not the best athlete (despite his 4.83 40-time), and will struggle to extend plays outside the pocket. Also, his build is very lean, which could raise some questions about his durability.

His best trait is his ability to complete throws in the middle of the field, but Jones is a more than capable deep ball thrower. In college, he was coached by the best, which should translate well to the next level. Still, his team was full of weapons and plenty of his flaws handling blitzes and more difficult coverages were masked by the dominant Alabama team. Jones can certainly get the job done as an NFL quarterback, but his ceiling is more Drew Lock than Josh Allen.

6. Davis Mills, Stanford

With just eleven collegiate starts under his belt, Mills is widely unknown to the average NFL fan. However, when watching his tape, it is evident what a confident pocket passer Mills is. He can really sling the ball down field with impressive timing and accuracy. Due to his lack of experience at the college level, Mills should start off in the middle of his squad’s quarterback depth chart. Still, his mechanics and ability to hit receivers with precision should find him a home in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft.

Despite his upside as a passer, Mills does not fit the mold of a modern-day NFL quarterback. At Stanford, he ran very few play fakes and was not asked to make throws on the run. It will be somewhat difficult for Mills to adapt to the more mobile style of play that today’s NFL quarterbacks encounter due to the strength in the pass rushers at the next level.

7. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M

There are rumors that Senior Bowl MVP Kellen Mond will be a day two pick. While I am certainly not on board with this, I can get on board with a team selecting Mond during the middle of day three. Mond has been starting for Texas A&M for what has felt like the past ten years. He is an interesting study, as he has so much experience, but too often makes poor decisions. Mond has almost no consistency to his game and could either look like a stud or a scrub.

Mond is a very solid athlete and, unlike Mills, excels in an offense that leans on the run-pass option and play actions. Quick screens and slants are Mond’s weapon of choice, as his deep ball leaves something to be desired. Ultimately, Mond will serve as a capable backup, but may never put together the consistent play necessary to start under center at the NFL.

8. Kyle Trask, Florida

Trask had a statistically historic season with the Gators in 2020, which made many casual fans assume he would be a top quarterback prospect in the draft. However, so much of his game will drive NFL executives crazy. Firstly, Trask has very limited arm strength and frequently under throws deep balls or even balls on intermediate routes. Secondly, Trask is very immobile and will not succeed outside of the pocket.

However, if his job is to be a game manager, Trask should fit in just fine. At Florida, Trask did a tremendous job limiting turnovers and completing passes efficiently. He will never wow you, but he can manage the game well when necessary.

9. Zac Thomas, Appalachian State

One of the more underrated quarterbacks in this draft class is Appalachian State’s Zac Thomas. As the signal caller, Thomas turned the Mountaineers into one of the most feared Group of 5 football programs in just thee seasons. With a 23-3 record as a starter, Thomas has proven to be a capable leader on the field. Like the names listed above Thomas is a dual threat quarterback, just not to the same extent. His physical traits will not wow you, but his ability to read defenses and manipulate the linebackers and safeties should grant him a spot on an NFL roster.

Thomas’ experience and consistent play signals some potential upside to his game. However, it will be difficult for Thomas to add some zip to his ball or to accumulate the natural arm strength that some of the top NFL quarterbacks possess. Still, Thomas is a fan favorite here at Vendetta and, after an impressive collegiate career, deserves a chance in the NFL.

10. Feleipe Franks, Arkansas

Closing out the top ten is Arkansas’ Feleipe Franks. While I graded him as a UDFA, Franks is the first quarterback that I would sign after the draft if I was a team in need. His raw arm strength and athletic frame are two things that could be built upon in the NFL. Franks, who was also a pitcher, has a bit of a peculiar release and inconsistent results with his throws. He also has a concerning injury history and is questionable with his decision making.

Franks made some stunning plays throughout his college career, including a memorable Hail Mary to beat Tennessee while at Florida. Ultimately, losing your job to Kyle Trask is not the best look, no matter how much raw talent you have.

Honorable Mentions: Shane Buechele SMU, Ian Book Notre Dame

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