The 2021 NFL Draft has already made history through two days, as a record eight quarterbacks went off the board in the first three rounds.
For the first time since 1999, too, three signal-callers were chosen in succession to kick off the draft.
This QB-centric 2021 class helped drive the second-highest viewership numbers in NFL Draft history on Day 1.
Major QB storylines in 2021 NFL Draft
Trevor Lawrence headlines The Big Three
The Jacksonville Jaguars did what everyone expected them to do in selecting Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall. He’s the best prospect since at least Andrew Luck, and honestly feels like a much better player than Luck was coming out of Stanford.
But while Lawrence to the Jags was predictable, as was BYU’s Zach Wilson going to the New York Jets, the San Francisco 49ers went bold by taking North Dakota State product Trey Lance. There’s a lot of rawness there, yet Lance may have the highest ceiling in this whole class, and he gets to work with Kyle Shanahan. Not a bad situation to walk into.
Lawrence may well make like Luck did, and take a team from the NFL basement to the playoffs as a rookie, because the AFC South isn’t a great division. Wilson has his work cut out to make the Jets competitive, even after they traded up for Alijah Vera-Tucker to bolster their offensive line and drafted Ole Miss star receiver Elijah Moore early on Day 2.
It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” Lance replaces Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco. The common take is that Lance should sit for a year while he learns, but he hails from a pro-style offense and badly needs game experience. He might actually benefit from being thrown into the fire, especially with an offensive wizard like Shanahan to help him along.
Justin Fields aims to end Chicago Bears’ woes
Considering the hope Ohio State’s Justin Fields represents for the Chicago Bears’ organization, trading a 2022 first-round pick and other trivial draft compensation to move up from 20th to 11th in the first round to get him is well worth the cost.
Fields is the most dynamic, physically gifted QB the Bears have ever had. Hard to think of anyone who comes close to comparing. He was a big-time player at Ohio State, rivaling Lawrence since high school as the 2021 class’ crown jewel. That chip on his shoulder is going to be boulder-sized after being passed up in the top three.
When general manager Ryan Pace signed Andy Dalton to be Chicago’s QB1 this offseason, he was rightfully put on blast for that. However, Pace totally redeemed himself, remained patient amid deserved criticism, and might have acquired the second-best field general in the entire draft.
Two potential Tom Brady heirs in New England and Tampa Bay
The New England Patriots just stayed at No. 15 in Round 1, and Mac Jones fell right to them. He’s exactly the mold of quarterback the Patriots grew accustomed to in two decades with Tom Brady. Jones has the accuracy, football IQ and moxie to be the long-term successor to Brady in Foxborough.
But Jones wasn’t the only Brady heir apparent to be drafted in the first two days. Florida’s Kyle Trask stayed in the Sunshine State when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took him 64th overall to cap off the second round.
Trask was rated third among our second-tier QB prospects, behind Kellen Mond and Davis Mills. As it turns out, those two went just two and three picks later respectively, which may be telling.
Kellen Mond coming for Kirk Cousins’ job in Minnesota
The four-year starter at Texas A&M showed marked improvement as a pocket passer and decision-maker in 2020. Facing SEC competition, playing in an NFL-centric system and boasting a cannon arm with plenty of running ability, Mond has a ton of upside. He ranked 45th on our big board of top 100 prospects, whereas Trask was 100th and Mills was 70th.
Kirk Cousins is a fine, serviceable starter with an underrated arm and plenty of productive years under his belt. It’s just that he lacks the X-factor, athleticism and special playmaking ability that’s so characteristic in the game’s biggest stars.
Mond isn’t the type of creator outside of structure that someone like Zach Wilson is, but he’s also going to be so much better set up for success in Minnesota from a schematic standpoint. The Vikings invested heavily in their offensive line, which was a great move. They’ll have plenty of big men to pave the way for elite tailback Dalvin Cook, and can even incorporate some designed runs for Mond once he’s ready to roll.
Seriously, don’t be surprised if Mond sees some action as a rookie, or if he winds up taking Cousins’ spot as the starter in 2022. He’ll be ready to play sooner than you’d think for an early third-round pick.
Davis Mills pick spells end for Deshaun Watson with Houston Texans
OK, obviously the Deshaun Watson situation is a big hang-up for Houston. Understanding that, the Texans didn’t have picks in the first two rounds, and once they finally did go on the clock, they went with a project QB with 11 college starts under his belt.
That’s not to say Mills can’t ultimately succeed. It’s just that, at some point, some way, Houston is bound to trade or part ways with Watson. A veteran stopgap option in Tyrod Taylor is already on the roster, and with the strong possibility the Texans will be near the top of the 2022 draft, they could’ve just addressed the quarterback spot then.
This was a prime chance for Houston to maybe trade down to collect more picks, or take a more impactful player at an immediate position of need. Like Lance, Mills needs to get game experience to expedite his development. The problem? He’s in the absolute worst situation in the entire NFL to collect those live reps, because the Texans are a complete dumpster fire at this point.
A head-scratching start to GM Nick Caserio’s inaugural Houston draft class. Good luck, Davis Mills.