The 2021 draft was special in many aspects. The combination of in-person and zoom selections alongside the number of top-tier rookie quarterbacks. With generational talent Trevor Lawrence at the top of the first-round followed by Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields shortly after, 2021 had a stacked quarterback class. But how did the 2021 rookie quarterbacks handle their first competitive snaps of preseason?
With the first selection in the 2021 draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Heralded as one of the best college prospects in years, it was no surprise when Jacksonville selected the Clemson alum. And Lawrence showed glimpses of his first-overall potential in Jacksonville’s first preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.
After a difficult start when Lawrence was strip-sacked, the number one selection found his feet and regained his composure. The highlight of Lawrence’s performance came when he found a 35-yard gain to Marvin Jones on third-and-10. Lawrence ended his performance against the Browns with a respectable performance, completing six-of-nine passes for 71 yards. His performance received a 90.5 passer rating.
The second selection in the 2021 draft was Zach Wilson to the New York Jets. The BYU standout has taken over from Sam Darnold to be New York’s starter and had a mistake-free start to his Jets career. Wilson was six-for-nine against the New York Giants for 63 yards. His standout throw was when he connected with free agent Corey Davis on an out-route.
One of the most intriguing starting quarterback battles this offseason is number three overall Trey Lance against the quarterback who took the 49ers to a Superbowl two years ago- Jimmy Garoppolo.
But Lance made his claim to be the starter with a big play against the Kansas City Chiefs. Lance entered the field during the second series and scored an 80-yard touchdown pass on his first NFL completion. His overall completion was five-of-14 for 128 yards with a touchdown.
Arguably the most impressive rookie quarterback performance came from Justin Fields. The eleventh overall pick in 2021 split reps with veteran Andy Dalton but stole the limelight in the process. Fields registered a 106.7 passer rating on his NFL debut. Going 14-for-20 for 142 passing yards with a touchdown alongside demonstrating his ability to carry the football himself. Fields had five carries for 33 yards and a rushing touchdown.
If Fields can continue in this vein, he may beat Dalton to being Chicago’s starter earlier than expected.
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