Rookie QBs of 2021 (little different), Part 2

Mac Jones, Alabama

Numbers: Jones has only one full year (2020) of starting experience plus 4 games in 2019 as starter, which makes a total of 17 games as the leader of the Crimson Tide. During his two last years his yards/attempts were over 10 yards and the average completion percentage was 73,1%, which is great. During his Junior year he had a 10/1 TD/INT ratio. As you can see, he is not a running QB, he rather stays in the pocket and tries to avoid the pressure there. In 2020 he won all his games, including the biggest one, the Championship Game where he threw 464 yards and 5 TDs.

Opponents: In 2018 he was only the third string QB, behind Tua and Hurts, nothing to write about here. In 2019 he started 4 games, where he had a 3-record. Two of those games were against ranked opponents, on week 12 a very close lose (45-48) against the 16th ranked Auburn, but on week 13 a win (35-16) against the 17th ranked Michigan. They won (48-7) against the Arkansas on week 8 and had a blow out win (66-3) against the non-major Western Carolina. In 2020 Jones had 6 wins against ranked teams, on week 2 against the 13th ranked Texas A&M (52-24), on week 4 against the 3rd ranked Georgia (41-24), on week 8 against the 22nd ranked Auburn (42-13), on week 11 they had a hard game against the 11th ranked Florida (52-46), on week 12 – the Rose Bowl – against the 4th ranked Notre Dame (31-14) and a win against the 3rd ranked Ohio State (52-24) in the Final.

Supporting cast: This will be here the most interesting part, because almost everybody who criticize Jones, mentioned the supporting cast as a reason of his success. No question, there are always top guys at Alabama, because they are one of the best program in college football, but is the supporting cast really so incredible? In 2019 the Bama´s receiver group was full with first round talents, Jerry Jeudy (15th pick of the Broncos in 2020), Henry Ruggs III (12th pick of the Raiders in 2020) and the Jaylen Waddle – DeVonta Smit duo who will be first round picks in this year’s draft. The best running back was Najee Harris with his 1.224 yards and 13 TDs. But 2019 was rather Tua’s year. 2020 was a different year, Jeudy and Ruggs were not anymore with the team and Waddle suffered an injury after 4 weeks. He could come back for the Championship game, but he was still injured and had only 3 catches. Smith took his chance and made a Heisman-winner season (1.856/23) and Najee Harris had another monster year (1.891/30 – scrimmage numbers). John Metchie is another name worth to mention with his 916 yards and 6 TDs. Were those players great? Yes they were. Should we give credit to Jones for his succes or he has nothing to do with it? DeVonta Smith told few days ago, that for him Jones was a better QB, than Tua.

Kyle Trask, Florida

Numbers: In 2018 Trask was only one of the backups behind Feleipe Franks, but took over the leading role in 2019. As you can see the young QB developed from year 1 to year 2 as a starter in completion percentage, yards/attempt and the TD number jumped as well. He had a 5,4 TD/INT ratio, which is not top number, but still good. During his 3 years tenure he ran with a 0,4 yards/attempt average, which is somewhere on the Brady level.

Opponents: In 2019 he had 3 games against ranked opponents and they lost twice, against the 5th ranked LSU (28-42) on week 7 and against the 8th ranked Georgia (17-24) on week 9. On week 6 Trask could lead the Gators to a win against the 7th ranked Auburn (24-13). His season ended with a 10-2 record and a win (36-28) in the Orange Bowl against the unranked Virginia. 2020 the team didn’t have such a good record, since they closed a year with 8-4 and Trask lost 3 of his 4 games against ranked opponents. On week 3 against the 21st ranked Texas A&M (38-41), on week 11 against the 1st ranked Alabama (46-52) and on week 12 against the 8th ranked Oklahoma (20-55). The two losses against Texas A&M and Alabam were close, but against Oklahoma it was a clear loss. The most painful loss was the fourth, against the unranked LSU on week 10 and Trask´s best game (according the stats) was on week 6 against his former teammate Feleipe Franks and the Arkansas, where he threw for 356 yards and 6 TDs.

Supporting cast: Kyle Pitts was one of Trask´s most beloved receiver already in 2019 with 54 catches (649/5), but he had Van Jefferson (2nd round pick of the Rams in 2020) with 657 yards and 6 TDs, Freddie Swain (6th round pick of the Seahawks in 2020) with 517 yards and 7 TDs and the running back Lamical Perine (4th round pick of the Jets in 2020) had 5 receiving TD as well. On the running side, Trask had Perine (676/6) and the Dameon Pierce – Emory Joney duo (561/8). After most of his top targets from 2019 went to the NFL, other players had to step up and take over the roles. Pitts (770/12) played only 8 games because of injury, but the emerge of Kadarius Toney (984/10) and Trevon Grimes (589/9) gave Trask very good options down the road. Dameon Pierce (503/4) became the lead running back, but this year wasn’t about the big running numbers at the Gators.

Jamie Newman, Wake Forest

Numbers: After a very relaxed freshman year, Newman started the last 4 games in 2018 and played on additional 2 games during the season. He didn’t put up really good numbers. Under 60% completion, just little over 2/1 TD/INT ratio and just 7,7 yards per passing attempts. In 2019 he came back as starter and played in 12 of the possible 13 games. His numbers were slightly better than previous year, but still not elite.

Opponents: Let’s check only the last four games from 2018. Newman’s first game as a starter was against a ranked team on week 10. In a close game he beat (27-23) the 22nd ranked North Carolina State. After this game he lost against the unranked Pitts (13-34), but closed the season with another two wins against the unranked Duke (59-7) and Memphis (37-34). He closed the 2019 season with a personal record of 7-5. He had only one ranked opponent, on week 10, they played against the 3rd ranked Clemson and lost big way (3-52).

Supporting cast: Teams could dream about bigger names in their supporting cast than what Wake Forrest had in 2018. The top 3 receivers were Greg Dortch (Falcons PS), Sage Surrat and Alex Bachman (Giants), they had combined 167 catches, 2.200 yards and 18 TDs, which is not so bad. The two top running backs were Cade Carney (1.005, 8) and Matt Colburn (775/5). The names were not bigger in 2019 either, but the numbers were. Sage Surrat (1.001/11) made a jump forward, with Kendall Hinton (1.001/4) and Scotty Washington (607/7) on his side. Hinton played for the Broncos in 2020, Washington was on the Bengals roster. The best running back was Jamie Newman (574/6) himself, but Cade Carney (620/5) and Kenneth Walker III (579/4) were close behind.

Kellen Mond, Texas A&M

Numbers: Our only QB on the list who played 4 years in college. After Nick Starkel’s injury Mond became a starter on week 3, but after Starkel was able to come back, Mond fell back on the depth chart. Although he was the starter in the next three seasons. In completion percentage he developed year to year, but couldn’t break through the 65% level. His yards/attempts stayed under 8 yards. At least his TD/INT ratio was over 6 in his senior year, in 2020. He can run and he was using this ability, which shows the 1.600 rushing yards and 22 TDs.

Opponents: In 2017 he was the QB of the Aggies in a five week streak between week 3 and week 7. During this span he had a 4-1 record, the only loss came against the 1st ranked Alabama (19-27), which wasn’t even a huge loss. In 2018 he lost 4 games and won 9. From his 4 losses two were against top ranked teams, on week 2 a close game against the 2nd ranked Clemson (26-28) and on week 4 a bigger loss against the 1st ranked Alabama (23-45). In his 9 wins, was one against the 13th ranked Kentucky (20-14) on week 6 and a brutal game against the 8th ranked LSU (74-72) on week 12. In this LSU game he threw for 287 yards and 6 TDs without an INT. In 2019 he lost only against ranked teams, against top ranked teams. On week 2 against 1st ranked Clemson (10-24), on week 4 against the 8th ranked Auburn (20-28), on week 6 against the 1st ranked Alabama (28-47), on week 11 against the 4th ranked Georgia (13-19) and one week later against the 1st ranked LSU (7-50). 2020 was much better for the Aggies, since they finished as the 5th ranked team and were really close to go into the Playoffs. He lost against the 2nd ranked Alabama (24-52) on week 2, but won against the 4th ranked Florida (41-38) on week 3 and against the 14th ranked North Carolina (41-27) in the Orange Bowl.

Supporting cast: Let’s see who were Mond’s teammates during his tenure at Texas A&M. In 2017 the top receiver was Christian Kirk (2nd round pick of the Cardinals in 2018) who had 919 receiving yards and 10 TDs, the other two notable WRs were Jhamon Ausborn (571/3) and Damion Ratley (694/6) who was a 6th round pick of the Browns in 2018. On the running side played Trayveon Williams (6th round pick of the Bengals in 2019) and Keith Ford (UDFA of the Bills in 2018) who ran for 1.346 yards and 20 TDs. In 2018 Mond had brand new group of top receivers, including Jace Sternberger (3rd round pick of the Packers in 2019) as the go to guy (832/10), Quartney Davis (585/7) and Kendrick Rogers (336/5). At least he had continuity with Trayveon Williams (1.760/18) at runnung back position. One year later Jhamon Ausborn (872/5) was the best in the WR group. The only other receiver who reached the 500 yards was Quartney Davis (616/4). The new star running back was, the freshman, Isaiah Spiller (946/10), on the second place we can find Mond himself (501/8). In 2020 the senior QB had two second year receiver as top targets, Jalen Wydermyer (506/6) and Ainias Smith (564/6). Isaiah Spiller (1.036/9) was once again the team´s best runner and Mond (294/4) was again on the second place.

Short year-to-year comparison

After we saw every individual stats and talked about the opponents and supporting casts for every QBs, let’s take a quick look on their year-to-year comparison.

2017

This is actually easy, we have only Mond who played enough to be able to give us something.

2018

We have a full list of players. Yeah. Welcome everyone in the world of college football. Trey Lance was marvelous with 100% completion rate (do you see now the mistake of the summary spreadsheet?) This year was the year when Trevor Lawrence came in and won the National Cahmpionship. He was the best in yards and passing TDs too.

2019

More to watch, since this was the year were most of our players were in starter position through the whole year (the only exception is Mack Jones). Interesting to see Lawrence running numbers against the others. Only Newman and Lance had more rushing yards and only Field and Lance had more rushing TDs than the young Clemson QB. Mac Jones had the best completion percentage and yards/attempt, but the best TD/INT ratio belongs to Lance. Fields had a monster year, second most passing yards, most passing TD and second fewest INT.

2020

This year was a down year for Trevor Lawrence and for Justin Fields as well, but a very good year for Zack Wilson and Mac Jones. Both guys were over 70% completion, Jones had the most passing yards, Wilson was on the 3rd place. Only this two QBs had a yards/attempt average over 11 yards. Jones threw the second most TDs behind Trask, but had half of Trask´s INT number. Trey Lance played only one game that year and Jamie Newman opted out.

QB ranking

I won’t go with the consensus ranking, because I see things different. So this ranking could be a boom or bust for me. We can come back in 3 years to discuss it. Let’s not forget, how uncertain the outcome of the drafted players is. We saw „generational talents“ became a bust and we saw undervalued players became something special or even the GOAT. Very much depends on the coaching and team where these guys will arrive. I am very happy when a player has high ceiling, but I need some proof that he has more than this. I read it in a PFF article, that players whose biggest positive tool is their ceilings won’t go into the first half of the first round or they could be even second round picks. This is a very good thought. I know in a QB needy league players at this position will be picked earlier than other players, but try to stay realistic. I valued consistency higher than a break out year and I valued success against harder opponents, than success against weaker opponents. So, please:

1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson: For me this is no surprise, but for some people it could be. Lawrence is the dog in the last 3 years, everybody was talking about him as the biggest talent since Andrew Luck and to tell the truth he delivered every year of his college career. He had very good supporting cast, good coaching, so this was a perfect marriage. He is a leader, who has not many weaknesses. He is outside of Pats range, but he is the only one, where I basically wouldn’t mind a big trade up. One thing I have my doubts is, because the team has some holes to fill and therefore we need picks.

2. Justin Fields, Ohio State: Despite the fact, he had a down year too (from numbers side), he still managed to go into the CFB Championship Game with his team. What does it say to me? That he is a leader, who can bring his team through hard games and give every chance to his players to win. He runs better than Lawrence and he had a top 3 completion percentage from this group. Trading up for him into the top10 would be ok.

3. Mac Jones, Alabama: Oh yes, the first biggest surprise. If Jones would have played two seasons as starter he would be my second QB. I don’t buy this „he is not mobile enough“ thing. He is not a double-treath QB, but he has good awerness in the pocket and he is able to avoid the pressure. In his only full year as a starter he led Alabama into the Final and won it, without 3 of the top targets from 2019. For me he is the best match to the Patriots (not named Lawrence). He can go through his reads, he has high football IQ. He didn’t have exceptional supporting cast in 2020 and he has enough arm strength to throw the most deep TDs in the season. I wouldn’t mind a trade up for him into the top10, but as I see now, he could be available at 15.

4. Zack Wilson, BYU: He can make any type of throws, he was very good in 2020 and he likes the Patriots (we saw the picture with the jersey on him), but his schedule wasn’t so hard as for the above mentioned QBs and I see more leading quality in Jones than in Wilson. Picking him at 15 would be ok.

5. Trey Lance, NDSU: As I already wrote, I am not on the Lance hype-train. No way I would trade up for him and maybe the 15th would be high for me as well. I know he had good numbers in 2019 and he can throw the ball very good, but this was on FCS level in a program which one is almost every year in the FCS Championship Game, no matter who the QB is. If there would have been a season for the NDSU and Lance would have showed the same performance as in 2019, I would rank him higher, but not now. He can run very good, but I have my doubts with running QBs (maybe I am too old school).

6. Kyle Trask, Florida: Trask has his own limitations, but I like him. He will stay in the pocket, but he is a Roethlisberger type of a player with his physique. His ceiling is not so high as the others‘, but in the second round he would be worth a try.

7. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M: Mond was quite good in the Senior Bowl, he was the MVP of the Game as well, made a good impression on me. He has the most experience on the field and was able to end his career on college level as the QB of the 5th ranked team. He is inconsistent, but has high ceiling, if the Patriots want to give 1-2 years to the rookie QB to develop, than he could be a good choice in the second day.

8. Jamie Newman, Wake Forest: Actually he wouldn’t be my choice anyway. Rather pick someone else and try to pick another, better QB next year. He was one of the biggest disappointments during the Senior Bowl week and during his Wake Forest time he didn’t show enough. For me he is too much of a project and we already have one on the roster.

That’s it. Thank you for your attention. Please let me know your thoughts, I am always open for other opinions and for a good conversation. At the end of the day I will cheer for any QB the team will pick, no matter where they were on my list (or they were not on my list).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: