All five of the quarterbacks to be taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft made their NFL debuts during Week 1.
Let’s look at how they should perform in their second NFL games.
No.5: Trey Lance
Perhaps this ranking of last is unfair to Trey Lance, but he is the unlikeliest to play meaningful snaps on Sunday. The top three quarterbacks are already the starter, and Justin Fields is closer to the starting job.
Either way, Lance will likely play a handful of snaps against the Philadelphia Eagles. He may not throw a touchdown as he did in his debut, but he should run some specifically designed plays. He brings a new aspect to the 49ers’ offense, so while he should be starting, he will bring some excitement to the offense even in a limited role.
Lance will likely post anywhere between 10 and 30 yards total on a handful of snaps.
No.4: Justin Fields
As mentioned in the Lance section, Fields is closer to the starting job. However, Matt Nagy may opt to play Andy Dalton more in his revenge game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Fields is likely the better option at the moment, but Nagy seems to be stubborn for no good reason. At least with Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, Garoppolo played well in Week 1.
Fields was the only one of the rookies to not score during Week 1. Like Lance, he may not score in Week 2, but the option could present itself. Fields did have a red zone touch against the Los Angeles Rams, so Nagy knows Fields is a weapon at the very least.
Fields will likely play between five and 10 snaps against the Bengals. Expect him to attempt a pass and get a couple of rushing attempts.
No.3: Zach Wilson
Jokes aside, Wilson is unlikely to have a strong game against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Wilson’s offensive line is not healthy as Mekhi Becton is dealing with a leg injury. Beyond Becton, the Jets do not seem to realize that they have a below-average offensive line, often asking Wilson to perform the impossible during Week 1. To compound the problem, Bill Belichick has an incredible record against rookie quarterbacks, 21-6 to be exact. Do not expect Wilson to add a loss to that column.
Wilson will likely end up between 200 and 250 yards, but it remains to be seen how many of those yards will be relevant. Wilson might throw a touchdown or two, but it could come at the cost of multiple turnovers.
No.2: Trevor Lawrence
While Trevor Lawrence was the worst of the quarterbacks during Week 1, he has a chance to bounce back in Week 2.
To be fair, Denver is not coached by Belichick, so Lawrence lands above Wilson, but Denver has a loaded defense. With Von Miller and Bradley Chubb healthy, Lawrence will likely be under pressure for most of the afternoon. Even if he is not, it is unlikely that his receivers are consistently open against one of the NFL’s best secondaries. It is a tough matchup for a rookie quarterback, but at least Lawrence will be playing his first home game.
Lawrence should end with around 250 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. He will likely have positive rushing yards after scrambling away from pressure a handful of times.
No.1: Mac Jones
It seems a little disingenuous to call Mac Jones a rookie. Yes, he was in the same draft class as the four quarterbacks mentioned earlier. Yes, he is in his first year in the NFL. However, Jones showed immense poise in his first start, and there is no reason to believe that he will be broken.
This is not to say that Jones is an elite quarterback, but he is already a league-average quarterback. He will minimize mistakes and take what the defense gives him. He is eerily similar to a pre-2007 Tom Brady. Jones is a long way from three Super Bowls, but he will play with a high floor.
The Jets have a soft secondary, so expect Jones to have an efficient passing performance. Jones should finish with a completion percentage between 65% and 70%, tacking on a touchdown or two.
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