Football talk generally centers around the quarterback position.
That’s no exception in the 2021 NFL draft, where as many as five signal-callers are being projected as first-round talents.
ESPN’s Jeff Legwold, who covers the Denver Broncos, worked with draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. in coming up with how this year’s quarterback class stacks up, and they separated the class into three groups.
“Quarterback? This year it’s five firsts and maybe Kyle Trask in the second round and lot of just (other) guys,” Kiper said.
The first group in this year’s class includes five players who are projected first-rounders, including BYU’s Zach Wilson along with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones.
Lawrence is widely expected to go first overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Kiper listed him as the top overall prospect in this year’s class on his most recent 2021 draft big board released earlier this month. After that, the order of other quarterbacks coming off the board is a lot less certain.
“There are other potential future starters on the board, like Wilson, but after Lawrence, who will likely be gone after the first pick, the decision becomes harder,” Legwold wrote.
Kiper had Wilson as the No. 8 overall prospect on his latest big board, up from 14, while Fields is one spot above Wilson, who Kiper called “the complete package.”
“It’s a fascinating quarterback class,” Kiper wrote. “Wilson has a stellar arm and can climb the pocket to find the open receiver. He was too inconsistent in 2019, bordering on reckless, but he was the opposite last season.”
The developmental quarterbacks
Following those top five, Legwold and Kiper identify four others who are viewed as more developmental quarterbacks: Florida’s Kyle Trask, Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond, Wake Forest/Georgia’s Jamie Newman and Stanford’s Davis Mills.
“After that first group, you see some backup types with the potential to become more in the right situation and if they progress developmentally,” Kiper said.
The final group is left for those quarterbacks seen as projects, players who will need significant work to make them pro ready.
It’s a group that includes Texas’ Sam Ehlinger, Notre Dame’s Ian Book, SMU’s Shane Buechele, Arkansas’ Feleipe Franks, Northwestern’s Peyton Ramsey, Elon’s Davis Cheek and Mississippi State’s K.J. Costello.
“This is a group of players where the decision about whether to bring them in will hinge solely on whether teams believe they can repair things in their games to function in the NFL,” Legwold wrote.