The 2021 NFL Draft has a quintet of consensus top-flight quarterbacks who are likely to go in the first round. Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones comprise that group, but what about the next tier?
If we’ve learned anything from the draft, it’s that diamonds in the rough can be found at the most important position in sports outside of Round 1. Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott and even the GOAT himself Tom Brady are outliers, but because of their accomplishments, we can’t overlook the second tier of QBs in the 2021 class.
Kellen Mond, Kyle Trask and Davis Mills are the standouts. Because of the value of quarterbacks, one of them could even sneak into the end of the opening round. In any event, let’s take a look at the best team fits for Mond, Trask and Mills as draft day draws nearer.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M: Detroit Lions
If you put any stock into the opinion of NBC Sports’ Chris Simms — who’s nailed prior evaluations of Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson in alleged “hot takes” that were intentionally going against the grain — maybe Mond does, in fact, merit first-round consideration:
Maybe the author of this article isn’t willing to go so far to suggest that Mond is a superior prospect to Fields and Lance, but Simms isn’t the only one pumping up Mond as a first-round pick.
Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher has raved about Mond’s football IQ and desire to improve as a four-year starter for the Aggies, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler:
“He’s vastly improved every year. Look at the body of work, the competition he’s played against. He really worked his mechanics, has done a great job with his body, his core footwork and balance – that allows him to be so much more efficient. He studies the game, learns very well – an intelligent young man, understands concepts and attacks coverage.”Jimbo Fisher on Texas A&M QB and 2021 NFL Draft prospect Kellen Mond
There’s reason to believe Mond could be ready to play in the NFL right away if he’s pressed into duty.
That’s why the Detroit Lions make a lot of sense for Mond. Detroit is picking seventh overall, and based on the rebuilding job it needs to do, is a prime candidate to trade back. This could net the Lions an extra second- or third-round pick, and they could still get a No. 1-caliber receiver on Day 1.
With that extra Day 2 asset, Detroit could bring in another pass-catcher, and it’d give new general manager Brad Holmes the flexibility to take Mond early in the second round. Holmes did come over from the Los Angeles Rams and brought QB Jared Goff with him, but Goff was bad the past two years, and the Lions need to make it clear he’ll face serious competition right away.
Mond could honestly have a chance to beat out Goff as a rookie. He’s well-versed in NFL-style schemes, whereas Goff struggled to execute Sean McVay’s extremely quarterback-friendly scheme in LA. Let’s just say it’s doubtful that Goff, a former No. 1 overall pick, could’ve scripted his own pro day like Mond recently did.
Plus, Goff is a statue in the pocket who panics under pressure, whereas Mond is an excellent athlete who can use his speed to escape trouble and pick up chunk yardage running the football.
Lions fans, you may be looking at a surprise Matthew Stafford successor in Kellen Mond.
Kyle Trask, Florida: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
How much longer can Tom Brady play? It seems like he’s showing no signs of slowing down, so the Bucs can afford to be somewhat patient with their succession plan, as opposed to making a radical trade for one of the top-tier prospects.
Enter Kyle Trask. The Florida Gators star led the NCAA in touchdown passes with 43 in 2020, and threw for well over 4,000 yards. Those are similar numbers to what Brady put up in his maiden season in Tampa Bay, which resulted in a Super Bowl victory, of course.
Most important: Trask is used to playing with a loaded cast of skill players. He got to throw to studs like Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney this last year. The Buccaneers happen to boast possibly the best collection of offensive weapons in the NFL.
Beyond that parallel and the fact that Trask wouldn’t need to leave the Sunshine State, there are a couple key stats that stands out as to why Trask would be a great fit in Tampa: 10.8 air yards per attempt in 2020, and the following info from PFF Draft:
It’s no secret that Bucs head coach Bruce Arians loves the “no risk it, no biscuit” philosophy. No QB in the second tier of this draft class has more experience consistently airing it out deep down the field than Trask does.
Trask would be entering a dream scenario in which Brady could mentor him. He’d have time to get coached up on the finer points of pro-style offenses, and be ready to roll once TB12 finally retires.
Davis Mills, Stanford: Chicago Bears
Through no fault of his own, Andy Dalton isn’t exactly off to a great start in Chicago. Bears fans blasted the franchise’s ringing endorsement of the Red Rifle as their QB1. And who could blame them, after multiple years of Mitchell Trubisky and the failed Nick Foles experiment?
While general manager Ryan Pace did try hard to swing a blockbuster trade for Russell Wilson, he ultimately didn’t offer enough to get it done. Now, it’s all on Dalton to justify his status as a starter in 2021.
With little to no chance of moving far up enough from 20th overall in the draft order to get someone like Fields, Lance or Jones, Pace needs to look into someone like Davis Mills, who ESPN personnel expert Louis Riddick touted as an extremely underrated player:
Like Mond, Mills is versed in a pro-style offense from his time at Stanford. He’s a former top recruit who has loads of arm talent, and ran a much better 40-yard dash at his pro day (4.58 seconds unofficial) than anyone expected. The difference between Mills and Mond is that the Cardinal field general has very little in the way of game experience, making just 11 starts in his college career.
Mills is an ideal redshirt candidate. He’d have a solid mentor in Dalton who knows a little something about being a Day 2 pick and parlaying that into a much better than expected NFL career.
This way, at least the Bears have someone in the pipeline with upside. Mills could probably play quite well even if he’s thrust onto the field as a rookie, too, thanks to coach Matt Nagy’s creative play designs and the presence of elite receiver Allen Robinson.