With the preseason over, it’s time to dive into the rookie QBs and their outlook on the season. This year’s class featured 5 1st round QBs including the NO.1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence.
Trevor Lawrence – Jaguars – Pick 1
“Sunshine” enters the season under the most pressure of the rookie QBs. Often thought to be of the greatest potential since Andrew Luck, it was no surprise to see Lawrence get taken NO.1 by the Jags. Lawrence processes quickly and has supreme accuracy. However, he did struggle in the first preseason match. Facing the Browns, he was consistently hassled and looked unsure on his reads. This is likely due to the pass rush of the Browns dominating the Jags O-Line. This pressure continued into Lawrence’s second preseason game against the Saints, but he handled it much better, looked more settled. Whilst his completion percentage dropped from the first game, the throws attempted were further down field and against tighter coverage (basically less 5 yard drag routes). The one takeaway from this game is that Lawrence needed to understand that the DBs and LBs in the NFL are faster than in college, a few throws hung in the air too long and allowed for either a bat down or a tough catch for his receiver.
However, Lawrence was playing at a high level through camp, showing that without pressure or the threat of getting hit he was calm, and a lethal thrower of the ball. His poise improved from game to game, especially with his almost perfect performance against the Cowboys in preseason week 3. Lawrence did not seem fazed by down and distance, completing a beautiful comeback route to Marvin Jones Jr in week 1 on a 3rd and 9. Speaking of Marvin Jones Jr, he and Lawrence have formed quite a partnership already, always on the same page. Adding to this, Lawrence has looked adept on bootlegs and has shown an ability to through the ball away, something rookies rarely do. Overall, there is absolutely no worries if you a Jaguars fan. Lawrence already looks well on his way to becoming a great QB, he just needs to iron out the odd issue and gain experience.
Zach Wilson – New York Jets – Pick 2
Wilson is looking to become the first QB for the Jets to become a true career-long franchise star since Joe Namath. His poise and arm talent seems brilliant. He gets to sit behind a highly underrated O-Line with Mekhi Becton at left tackle and the camp surprise of George Fant looking to continue his jump in form throughout the regular season. Wilson has also developed a great partnership with Corey Davis. The former Titan has exploded in preseason, looking like the round 1 pick he was always supposed to be. Wilson has displayed all the arm talent needed to be an NFL QB. Also had the awareness on a screen against the Packers to pull the ball down as the edge had beaten Wilson’s right tackle faster than expected, before completing the pass after the edge passed. This may have just been one play but a play where Wilson looked like a veteran.
Trey Lance – San Francisco 49ers – Pick 3
No QB is going to benefit from sitting for part of the season more than Lance. Throughout the preseason games, Lance has been experimenting with the dos and don’ts of the NFL. This is most evident when he is trying to squeeze the ball over the middle. The NFL have much faster LBs than in college and Lance has had a few passes deflected or off-target trying to avoid the LBs. However, this is how Patrick Mahomes played early and we know how good he is. The rewards are starting to show, a perfect TD pass in tight coverage to Travis Benjamin. Lance also holds onto the ball a little too long. He has got away with it a few times due to his mobility but he needs to release that ball. This will come in time as he gets quicker at his reads. He will miss some time due to his finger injury (out for at least week 1) but he wasn’t going to start anyway, Garoppolo is very competent. If I was Kyle Shanahan, I would look to be starting Lance after the week 6 bye. Announce it (at least to Lance and Garoppolo) straight after week 5 so Lance has 2 weeks to get ready for the Colts. Lance looks good for an end of season explosion and potential playoff push. The only thing that could stop him is a Garoppolo career year.
Justin Fields – Chicago Bears – Pick 11
The most exciting to watch of all the QBs. Fields is perhaps playing the most “boom or bust” play style so far. He is airing it down field and has shown the ability to throw from alternate arm angles. He learned quickly after week 1 to firstly, slide and secondly protect the ball whilst running. The major high point of Fields’ performances is that he is not the slightest bit fazed by pressure. He is happy to hang in the pocket to the very last moment to complete the throw and has the mobility to escape if it’s clear no option will come open. It’s likely Fields will be on the bench for a while. He will lead the scout team for the regular season. He is behind Dalton on the depth chart and him moving to NO.1 really depends on fan pressure. It seems that Jim Nagy wants to sit Fields for as long as possible and run with Dalton but results and fans may force Fields to be played soon. He might well explode on the NFL. Bears fans should be excited.
Mac Jones – New England Patriots – Pick 15
I know it’s preseason but Mac Jones has looked good. Mac Jones looks like the most pro-ready QB out of the rookies. I’ve always hated the idea that a young QB looks like NFL legend “X” and is “X” in the making but no matter how hard I try I can’t shake the idea that Jones looks like a young Brady and it’s not just the Patriots jersey and the NO.10 from Brady’s Michigan days. Jones takes what the defense gives him. He is deadly accurate, has displayed better arm strength than he showed in college. Whilst his pocket awareness is of course not near Brady, his footwork looks familiar and the way he tucks the ball against his back shoulder is as Brady-esque as it gets. Jones has been efficient in the Belichick-McDaniels system. I’m surprised with the Newton cut, expecting Newton to start until at least after the Bucs game so Jones didn;t suffer the arguably unfair comparisons between Brady and Jones (Jones is not near Brady’s level just yet). But, when Jones starts, he will have one of the best O-Lines in the league and the deepest RB room. Fellow rookie Rhamondre Stevenson is a bruiser with the electric JJ Taylor complementing Damien Harris. Meanwhile, veteran James White will take the 3rd down role. Jones is set up for success.