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Top Five QB Prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft

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The 2021 NFL Draft is set to feature three of the best quarterback prospects of the last ten years. Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Trey Lance are all players who would have been in consideration with Joe Burrow to be the first pick in the 2020 draft had they been eligible. There are sure to be a few surprises–no one saw Joe Burrow climbing to the first pick this time a year ago–so I am releasing a top-five list that will be updated quarterly throughout the season in order to give the fans a feel for who is climbing and falling on the big boards.

1 | Trevor Lawrence | Clemson | 6-6 | 220 lbs |Junior

Background

Five star recruit out of Georgia. Academic standout. Started 11 games played as a freshman and 15 games as a sophomore. 

Strengths

When putting together the model of a perfect modern NFL QB, one might consider starting with a base of Trevor Lawrence. The Clemson product combines elite level avoidance, poise and and touch with a rocket arm and above average speed. Lawrence places the ball wherever he wants it, on either shoulder of the receiver and whether he is off or on balance. He does not under throw balls, which will keep his interception total down. His roll outs and off-platform throws are also already NFL ready, here he is off-platform doing a great job of keeping his eyes downfield and staying with the receiver.

Weaknesses

Lawrence can fit any throw into seemingly any window, the problem sometimes is that he knows he can and forces throws. He trusts his receivers to make plays on the ball, sometimes at inopportune times. The ball goes where he wants it to go, however he is prone to reading the defense pre-snap and then not adjusting post-snap. This leads to getting baited into some silly interceptions like this one below.

2 | Trey Lance | North Dakota State| 6-3 | 225 | RS Soph.

Background

Three star recruit out of Minnesota. Academic standout. Red shirted and then started 16 games as a RS freshman. Father played football at SW Minnesota State and the CFL. Played basketball in high school.

Strengths

Lance is a top prospect for the draft because of his decision making, running ability and arm talent. He makes certain throws that only a handful of current NFL QBs can make that deep down the field. Lance did not throw an interception as a red shirt freshman all while leading his team to a division 1-AA championship. He started the year off with a slightly over-the-top throwing motion but by mid season had it corrected and it sped up his delivery immensely. The ability to improve as a passer as the year progresses is a huge sign that Lance will continue to develop. Because he plays at a lower level, he may need a year to sit and develop as a passer. But as a runner (especially in the red zone), he is NFL ready.

Weaknesses

Lance tends to only look at one receiver before he bails out of the pocket and runs. He needs to learn to keep his eyes down the field better and find his second option. This leads to him taking unnecessary hits and not seeing some open receivers. If Lance can learn to find his open guy before he tucks and runs, he can take his game to the next level. On this play, Lance simply doesn’t scan the field enough to see that the corner on his left is playing very far off of his receiver. He should know that because his receiver is running the comeback route, he will be wide open.

3 | Justin Fields | Ohio State | 6-2 | 220 lbs | Junior

Background

Five-star recruit out of Georgia. Played as a backup in 12 of 14 games as a freshman. Started all 14 games as a sophomore after transferring from Georgia to Ohio State. Was also a standout baseball player in high school.

Strengths

Fields is in the same boat as Lawrence when it comes to the fact that he can fit any throw into any window. He has elite level arm strength and is a very natural thrower with a “catchable” ball. Displays good movement to get away from defenders. Showcases a very nice inside step move that lets him escape a bad pocket created by an over-setting tackle and also has a very good spin when needed to roll to the outside of the tackle. Fields can also display some great eye discipline when he needs to look off a defender.

Weaknesses

Fields is a polarizing prospect because he has what many consider to be a few fatal flaws. First, he does not step up into the pocket as much as he is capable of doing. Too many times he will have a clean pocket will still roll out instead of stepping up. This is also sometime exacerbated by the fact that Fields is slow in setting up his feet when going under center. Finally, just like Lawrence, Fields trusts his arm too much. Even times like this video, where he can see the double or triple coverage, he still feels he can fit it into any spot. These flaws only led to three interceptions all of 2019, however, so maybe i’m being too picky.

4 | Brock Purdy | Iowa State| 6-1 | 210 lbs | Junior

Background

Three-star recruit out of Arizona. 8 games started as a freshman and 13 as a sophomore. Is an academic standout. Dad played minor league baseball. Has sprained both ankles. Team Captain. Turned down an offer from Alabama. 

Strengths

Purdy has very good accuracy and decent mobility, much like NFL quarterback Andy Dalton. When his offensive line gives him time and his receivers get separation– it doesn’t happen often– the Iowa State product is able to move his team down the field with great success. He does not have very many chances to showcase his arm due to him not necessarily having the speediest receivers, making him a tougher evaluation than the previous three. What makes it a bit easier is the more you dig, the more you hear about his intangibles. Multiple teammates have raved about his character and leadership.

Weaknesses

Purdy’s arm strength is a question because of his relatively small frame. He could certainly add some bulk this off-season and it would not hurt him at all. The big issue here, though, is not the size; it is that Purdy needs to make better decisions with the football. Because his receivers rarely gain any form of separation, he tends to force throws that simply aren’t there. He can get locked onto the guy he’s targeting, sometimes causing him to miss seeing some open receivers. In this video he locks onto his first read, causing him to not see a defender that he easily should have seen.

5 | Kyle Trask | Florida | 6-5 | 235 lbs | RS Senior

Background

Three-star recruit out of Texas. Red shirted in 2017 due to injury. Junior season had 8 starts. In HS was a backup to D’Eriq King. Has dealt with foot injuries.  

Strengths

Trask is a very smart football player with above average accuracy and size. He has very good command of the offense and is also very well poised. When throwing he has good arm mechanics and stands tall in the face of pressure. Very rarely is he flustered or forced into an early throw. His size helps out in the pocket in a huge way because he does not go down easily, allowing more time to find receivers that break open. Strong competitor that has had to earn his way to being the starting QB. He will easily be respected by an NFL locker room because of his toughness and intensity on the field.

Weaknesses

Sometimes Trask can sit in the pocket too long, leading to sacks. He needs to learn to escape the pocket a little more if he is going to be a successful NFL QB. His size, although it sometime’s can be to his advantage–is also playing against him. At 235 pounds, he lacks the functional mobility that is a prerequisite of modern NFL signal callers. He also needs to get better at reading the defense pre-play, like in the video below. He simply doesn’t check into the right play here and leaves himself and his team in a bad spot.


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Navy Veteran and current head of the football department at Overtimeheroics.net.