‘Good chance’ Kyle Trask is first-round pick in 2021 NFL Draft

Florida Gators quarterback Kyle Trask is not considered to be one of the best quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft class. But after a breakout season in 2020, the Heisman Trophy finalist could hear his name called a lot earlier than many are expecting.

Trask and the Gators started the season on a hot streak, rolling out to an 8-1 start entering a Dec. 12 matchup against the LSU Tigers. A fourth-quarter collapse and a shoe-throwing incident doomed Florida. The team still reached the SEC Championship Game, losing to No. 1 Alabama in a 52-46 shootout as Trask’s four-touchdown, 400-yard performance wasn’t enough.

While the season ended on a low note, Trask’s phenomenal year put him on the NFL radar. Despite lacking any elite traits for the position, his domination of the SEC caught everyone’s attention.

  • Kyle Trask stats (2020): 4,283 passing yards, 43 passing touchdowns, 68.9% completion rate, 180.0 passer rating

The Senior Bowl would present a great opportunity for the 6-foot-5 quarterback to further elevate his draft stock. But he suffered an ankle injury, forcing him to sit out practices and the game. With Trask sidelined, Mac Jones stole the show and is now considered the favorite to be the No. 3 pick.

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But Trask isn’t off the NFL’s radar. While he isn’t viewed in the same tier as Jones, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, or Zach Wilson, teams are buzzing about him. Now, one of the NFL’s top reporters believes Trask could hear his name called quite early in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Kyle Trask NFL Draft projection

Kyle Trask
Mandatory Credit: Brad McClenny-USA TODAY NETWORK

NBC Sports’ Peter King wrote Monday that he is starting to believe there is a good chance Trask becomes the sixth quarterback drafted with a first-round pick.

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Much of the spotlight throughout the pre-draft process has centered on Jones, Wilson and Fields. There is even more discussion about the top passers this year due to the growing expectation that quarterbacks are taken with the top-four picks for the first time in NFL Draft history.

It’s a foregone conclusion that five quarterbacks will be taken within the top-20 picks on April 29. There’s also a growing possibility they all hear their names called within the first 10 picks. But Trask has largely been viewed as a Day 2 prospect, expected to land within the first 75 selections.

He offers prototypical size, showed outstanding development at Florida and handled himself incredibly well under pressure. Pro Football Focus gave him a 71.1 grade when under duress this past season, one of the highest marks in the 2021 NFL Draft class.

However, he can’t move around much outside of the pocket, he lacks high-end arm strength and his accuracy was wildly inconsistent in college. Many view him as a high-end backup quarterback, with the ability to serve as a fill-in starter.

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But there’s undeniably a growing need for young quarterbacks. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Football Team and New Orleans Saints are all seeking long-term starters.

If Trask is going to be drafted in the first round, the 28th pick (Saints) is likely the earliest it would happen. After that, it’s possible a team like the Green Bay Packers (29th pick) or Buffalo Bills (30th pick) could trade down with a team wanting that fifth-year option on Trask.

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If a sixth quarterback is taken with a first-round pick, it will be the first time that has happened since the 1983 NFL Draft. That group included legends John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino, but it also featured Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason and Ken O’Brien.