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Ranking the rookie QBs following preseason Week 1

There were five first-round quarterbacks drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft. We take a look at how they did in Week 1 of preseason and rank their progress.

The Ross Tucker Football Podcast | Preseason Week 1 Rookie Quarterback Performances

Week 1 of preseason is over and we’ve gotten a look at all the top rookie quarterbacks for the 2021 season. We haven’t seen enough of course, but we’ve gotten a taste of what they can do on an NFL field. We’ll take a look at where they rank after the first preseason game and see how they performed. The good news is that none of them flopped, but each is likely to progress moving forward.

1. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Stats: Fields completed 14 of 20 passes for 142 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, and had five rushing attempts for 33 yards and a touchdown.

Seeing a Chicago Bears quarterback with the ability of Justin Fields was a bit jarring. Fields looked like a legitimate top tier player and he is playing QB for the Bears? That might take some getting used to. He was accurate, evaded tacklers, threw on the run and after a some hiccups right off the bat, he looked like the real deal.

The next step will to see more work with the first team and against first team defenses. Andy Dalton is still the starting quarterback, but a few more displays like this and it would be criminal to keep Fields off the field.

2. Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

Stats: Lance completed just five passes on 14 attempts for 128 yards and a touchdown.

Zach Wilson probably did more things right than Lance, but the with four drops and poor line play, I saw enough from Lance to envision what Kyle Shanahan could do with this rookie quarterback. Lance of course hit an 80-yard touchdown to Trent Sherfield, which was the most successful play out of all the first-round rookie quarterbacks. The stats don’t look great, but if those four drops were caught, he’d have completed 9-of-14 passes for close to 200 yards and who knows what else. Without offensive tackle Trent Williams and a couple other starters, Lance was harassed and sacked four times and nearly threw an interception in the third quarter. That was his worst play of the day. We didn’t see him run the ball, as I doubt the coaching staff wanted to risk their franchise quarterback in his first preseason game. When he adds that to his arsenal and gets a full starting offensive line, watch out.

3. Zach Wilson, New York Jets

Stats: Wilson completed six of nine passes for 63 yards.

He wasn’t asked to do much, but there is no doubt the young man has a upper echelon NFL arm, as he put great zip on intermediate throws and gave defenders no chance with his placement. He looked comfortable in the pocket and was able to throw well on the move. You could tell he has tremendous confidence in his arm and he will likely have some interception issue when playing good defenses, but what he did against the Giants in this game could only be seen as a positive.

4. Mac Jones, New England Patriots

Stats: Jones completed 13-of-19 passes for 87 yards.

Jones wasn’t asked to do much, but he was asked to do what the Patriots offense often needs and that is quick, short passes. He was mostly successful on those short passes and should have completed one of his two long passes. One was a bit out of the receivers reach, but the one below was on the money.

Jones isn’t going to bring the running element that Cam Newton does, but There’s a real chance he can get the offense moving with short, accurate passes while sprinkling in a few deep connections.

5. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Stats: Lawrence completed six of nine passes for 71 yards.

Lawrence only played on two drives, but was sacked twice and fumbled on one of those sacks. He was able to recover his fumble. He made one throw that showed you his promise, right after being sacked. A nicely placed completion to Marvin Jones, who did make a strong catch.

He held the ball too long on his sacks according to head coach Urban Meyer, but the routes did look like they took a while to develop. I don’t think this debut changes my mind that Lawrence will be a top quarterback in the league, but it’s never going to be a cake walk for a rookie quarterback either.