With the 2020 NFL Draft concluding last weekend, front offices and scouting departments are already looking ahead to next year’s draft. Like any draft, the 2021 Draft will likely be headlined by quarterbacks. In the 2020 Draft, there were three quarterbacks selected in the first six picks; next year’s draft could see a similar scenario.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson: Some consider Lawrence the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck heading into his junior season. There’s not much more for Lawrence to prove. In his debut season, he led arguably the greatest team in college football history to a National Championship.
In his second season, Lawrence garnered some criticism for turning the ball over to begin the year, but responded by not throwing an interception in the last eight games of the season only to fall to LSU: who had 14 players selected in the NFL Draft in the National Championship game.
There are very few, if any, boxes Lawrence doesn’t check. He has an elite arm and an insatiable touch in addition to good poise in the pocket. Lawrence has showcased some ability in the open field. The only downside to Lawrence may be his tendency to take risks, but his once in a generation arm talent even makes that worry void.
Trey Lance, North Dakota State: Choosing a Division I subdivision quarterback over Justin Fields may seem shocking, but one look at Lance’s film shows that’s a real possibility. As a redshirt-freshman, Lance had 42 total touchdowns without throwing an interception, and he also ran for over 1,000 rushing yards.
Lance has elite arm talent, great deep ball touch, composure in the pocket, and an ability to extend plays. At a school that has produced Carson Wentz and Easton Stick, Lance has been more productive than both earlier in his career.
Lance went undefeated as a redshirt freshman, while being historically dominant in the process. As bold as it may be, Lance has earned this spot on my list.
Justin Fields, Ohio State-: Lawrence and Lance are amazing prospects, but Fields isn’t far behind. Fields emerged as a potential star when he was Jake Fromm’s backup at Georgia, but when the Bulldogs stuck with Fromm as their starter, Fields sought greener pastures at Ohio State.
Fields solidified himself as a star in Columbus by throwing 41 touchdowns and three interceptions as a sophomore. He was only a throw away from out dueling Lawrence in the College Football Playoffs.
If the draft was taking place tomorrow, Fields would be a top-10 pick. He shows good mobility and can make throws all over the field. He should be a franchise quarterback at the next level, and any team should be excited to add him to their roster this time next year.
Brock Purdy, QB Iowa State: The most underrated prospect of the 2021 class so far. If Purdy decides to declare early for next year’s draft, he could find himself as a first-round pick. Purdy’s 27-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio isn’t overly impressive, especially considering he plays in the Big 12, but one look at his film shows his physical gifts and that he lacked support around him
Iowa State had one of the worst offensive lines in the Big 12 conference. This was only magnified by the team’s sub par receivers, who couldn’t create consistent separation or catch through contact. Purdy was the team’s saving grace. His ability to escape the pocket and extend plays is well above average. Purdy’s ability to throw while he faces pressure stands out immediately and shows how well he processes the game.
Purdy’s ball-security could be seen as an issue in the NFL, but if given a team with a competent supporting cast, that is something that may improve. Purdy’s a very talented quarterback who may not have superstar potential, but has the ability to win some games at the next level.
Jamie Newman, Georgia: Newman transferred to Georgia from Wake Forest following his first full season as a starting quarterback. In his redshirt-junior season, Newman accumulated 26 passing TDs and also rushed for six TDs showcasing his raw athleticism, and making himself one of the most intriguing prospects of the 2021 Draft.
Newman played in a system at Wake Forest that utilized a lot of slow developing plays and relied on his athletic ability, but didn’t give him a chance to show he’s a refined and intelligent quarterback. At Georgia, Newman will be working with former Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monk.
Many hope Monk will be able to highlight Newman’s strengths and coach him like a professional helping his translation to the NFL. Newman is an NFL talent without a doubt, and if Monk, who had been considered for NFL head coaching positions in the past, can improve Newman’s game, it’s a possibility that Newman is higher on this list by the end of the season.
For Newman to rise up draft boards, he must improve his ball security. In 12 games last season, Newman had 11 interceptions and lost two fumbles. A pessimist could argue that he was aided by two productive big bodied receivers in Sage Surratt and Scotty Washington.
If Newman improves his ball security and shines within Monk’s offense, a team could spend a first-round-pick on him, but as of right now, that’s not a risk I’d want to take.