The conversation about soccer generally centers around the quarterback position.
That’s no exception in the 2021 NFL draft, where up to five callers are projected as first-round talents.
ESPN’s Jeff Legwold, who covers the Denver Broncos, worked with draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. to think about how this year’s quarterback class ranks, and they separated the class into three groups.
“Attacking player? This year it’s top five and maybe Kyle Trask in the second round and a lot of (other) guys,” Kiper said.
The first round
This year’s first group of class includes five projected first-round players, including BYU’s Zach Wilson along with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones.
Lawrence is expected to go first overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Kiper listed him as the best overall prospect in the class this year on his most recent big board of the 2021 draft released earlier this month. After that, the order of the other quarterbacks coming off the board is much less secure.
“There are other possible future incumbents on the board, like Wilson, but after Lawrence, who will likely leave after the first pick, the decision becomes more difficult,” Legwold wrote.
Kiper had Wilson as the eighth overall prospect on his last big board, up from 14, while Fields is one spot above Wilson, whom Kiper called “the complete package.”
“He’s a fascinating kind of quarterback,” Kiper wrote. “Wilson has a stellar arm and can crawl through his pocket to find the wide receiver. It was too inconsistent in 2019, bordering on recklessness, but it was just the opposite last season. “
The development quarterbacks
Following those top five, Legwold and Kiper identify four others who are viewed as more developed quarterbacks: Florida’s Kyle Trask, Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond, Wake Forest / Georgia’s Jamie Newman and Stanford’s Davis Mills.
“After that first group, you see some types of support with the potential to be more in the right situation and if they progress in development,” Kiper said.
The final group is left for those quarterbacks seen as projects, players who will need significant work to be prepared as professionals.
It’s a group that includes Sam Ehlinger from Texas, Ian Book from Notre Dame, Shane Buechele from SMU, Feleipe Franks from Arkansas, Peyton Ramsey from Northwestern, Davis Cheek from Elon and KJ Costello from Mississippi State.
“This is a group of players where the decision on whether to add them will depend solely on whether the teams believe they can fix things in their games to function in the NFL,” Legwold wrote.