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2021 NFL Draft class: Quarterback comparisons, including Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson

2021 mock draft: 2021 NFL Draft: Trevor Lawrence
Dec 19, 2020; Charlotte, NC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) celebrates with teammates after winning the ACC Football Championship at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 NFL Draft class at quarterback seems to be absolutely stacked. Names like Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Mac Jones dominate the headlines, and many are enthralled with this year’s gunslingers. 

Mock drafts across the football world are focused on where each quarterback prospect will land, and talk shows are filled with conversations regarding the incoming field generals. This year’s class seems special, but it has hints of a previous quarterback class.

This year’s class mimics the likes of the 2018 quarterback class. Although the 2021 class looks a lot more special, the 2018 class was supposed to be one of the best in recent history. 

The similarities of each class might not be obvious, but some similarities leave a lot to ponder. 

Related: NFL Playoff schedule and predictions

Both classes have a sure-fire No.1 overall pick

2021 NFL Draft: Jacksonville Jaguars
Jan 1, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) reacts after the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

To put it nicely, the 2017 Cleveland Browns were horrible. The team went the dreaded 0-16. Going into the offseason, one thing was for sure. Draft a quarterback.

What was expected to be an historic 2018 NFL Draft class was going to leave Cleveland with a lot of options. However, the rise of Oklahoma quarterback, Baker Mayfield, left the Browns with a seemingly easy choice. 

The 2017 Heisman winner was given the keys to Cleveland. And in 2020, he led the Browns to the playoffs for the first time since 2003

In 2021, the top prospect is Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence is heralded as the best quarterback prospect since Stanford’s Andrew Luck, and many regard Lawrence as even better. 

The Jaguars seem to have the same easy choice as the Browns. However, depending on the team’s coaching hire, the top prospect might fall to the No. 2 pick. 

Who will be the Josh Rosen of the 2021 NFL Draft? 

2021 NFL Draft: Alabama Mac Jones CFB Playoff national championship against Alabama
Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Slade Bolden (18) celebrates with quarterback Mac Jones (10) after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A star at UCLA, Rosen was projected as high up as No. 2. However, he fell to the Cardinals with the 10th pick. He only lasted his rookie season in the desert, and was traded to Miami after his former team drafted Heisman winner Kyler Murray. Rosen finished the 2020 season on the 49ers’ practice squad. That’s how big of a bust he’s been.

Who will be the 2021 version of Josh Rosen? The answer might be Mac Jones. The Alabama quarterback was in the running for the Heisman and put up a huge performance in the team’s win over Ohio State in the national championship game.

Related: Winners and losers from CFB National Championship Game

However, the enormous amount of talent at Alabama may allow Jones to gain unnecessary hype. Most mock drafts have him projected in the first round, and the bust potential will mount if he is selected on Day 1.

Trey Lance might be the steal of the NFL Draft like Josh Allen proved to be

Josh Allen, NFL Draft
Dec 19, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) stiff arms Denver Broncos linebacker A.J. Johnson (45) during the third quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the 2020 season, Lance was regarded as a top-three pick. However, only playing one collegiate game this past season at North Dakota State faded him into the background. 

However, he is still extremely talented and might be the next Josh Allen type of steal. Both quarterbacks are from low-profile programs. Both have tremendous physical abilities, but may not have the most well-rounded game. 

Related: NFL mock draft 2023 – CJ Stroud, Bryce Young headline outstanding 2023 NFL Draft class

If Lance can get drafted in a situation similar to Allen with the Bills, he might prove to be one of the best quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft class. 

The main difference is there is not a Lamar Jackson type playmaker in the 2021 class

Lamar Jackson NFL Draft
Jan 10, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter in a AFC Wild Card playoff game at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson was one of the most electrifying players in all of college football, but many doubted his ability to translate his explosive playmaking to the NFL. 

This allowed Jackson to slide to the last pick in the first round where the Baltimore Ravens selected the former Heisman winner. 

It is safe to say almost 75% of the league regrets their decision of passing on Jackson. The 2021 class does not have a playmaker like Jackson that is being overlooked. Arguably the most overlooked prospect is Lance, but he should be selected in the top-15 barring any unusual picks.