2021 NFL draft QB class

7:15 ET

  • Todd McShay

    Shut downESPN Senior Writer

    • ESPN College Football and NFL Draft Analyst
    • Joined ESPN in 2006
    • Played quarterback in high school and was a backup QB for the University of Richmond.
  • John Parolin

    Shut downESPN Stats & Info

    • Senior Stats Analyst for ESPN Stats & Information
    • Contributes to the ESPN chalk section
    • Worked at ESPN since 2009

We spent a lot of time talking about each of the top 2021 NFL Draft Quarterback Prospects tape and analyzing their strengths and weaknesses. But what if we compare these ratings with statistics in a few areas?

We got the 13 best QBs in this class – Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Mac Jones, Kyle Trask, Kellen Mond, Davis Mills, Jamie Newman, Ian Book, Sam Ehlinger, Shane Buechele and Feleipe Franks – – and delved into five key statistical areas. But because the 2020 season in college football was uneven, we had to get creative. ESPN statistics and information John Parolin pulled two meaningful statistics from each quarterback’s last 13 games for each of these categories. We felt this was the approximate sample of a typical season, and it helped to include everyone who either opted out in 2020 or played a shortened campaign.

Then NFL Draft Analyst Todd McShay evaluated the numbers with what he sees on tape with an additional context from Parolin. What goes with the film and what doesn’t? Numbers don’t tell the full story, but they support and complement ratings, and sometimes they can even force a Boy Scout to return to the tape and take a different look from a different angle. So let’s start with how each quarterback deals with pressure.

Note: Even after trying to level the field for all QBs based on the last 13 starts, there were still some anomalies. First, Mills’ sample was only 11 games because that’s all he’s got for his career. Second, Lance’s numbers were only available for two of the five sections as FCS numbers have limited offerings.

Jump to:
Pressure | Deep ball | accuracy
Bag | Out route

Who can play under duress?

Under pressure over the last 13 starts

McShay: While all of these categories are important, I really get into the pressure numbers. What happens when it all collapses is very important to today’s quarterback prospect. NFL pass rushers will get back to you quickly, and I want to see how good a signal caller can still make a difference if the bags close. We see what we see on tape, but the numbers agree with a good clarifier.

And wow, Alabama’s Jones and BYU’s Wilson are making pop here. Wilson certainly doesn’t come as a surprise – one of his best qualities is his ability to lengthen games, instinctively create when forced to deviate from the schedule, and adjust his arm angle to hit windows. But Jones isn’t the type of QB who does a lot of throws on the run or looks for big pickups when the bag isn’t clean. Instead, what stands out is his ability to process quickly, manage his progress, and maneuver in his pocket. And of course he had a great offensive line and plenty of weapons to work with at Bama.

Parolin: Let’s put Jones’ numbers into context. The FBS average for QBR under pressure last season was 10.0, and no other QB in that exercise exceeded 44 (which is also a great result, by the way). But Jones, who was pressured 101 times last year, averaged 11.1 yards per attempt and threw 13 TDs on just two interceptions in those games, managed to hit 78.3. Joe Burrow is the only first-round quarterback in the last decade to have a better number in a college season (82.6).

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