Mac Jones, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Trevor Lawrence, what lies ahead?
The 5 men listed a-top this page are entering their second season in professional football and with their development tied so closely to the success or otherwise of the 5 franchises who selected them, it is worth us taking a look and projecting the best 2022 outcomes for the year two franchise QBs. A reasonable assessment following 2021 would likely have ranked them as follows
- Mac Jones
- Trey Lance
- Zach Wilson
- Trevor Lawrence
- Justin Fields
But in truth, beyond Mac Jones there was little positive to distinguish one from another. This, however, is yesterdays news and as Gary is so keen to tell me, we dont live in the past. Let’s try to work out who’ll be on top after 2022.
- Trey Lance. Without doubt he’s in the best place to thrive this coming season. The decision to name him as the starter early in camp and to build the offense around his abilities will most likely payoff with a tilt at the playoffs. I haven’t been as high on him as many simply because of his lack of game time before and since entering the NFL, but he’s surrounded by talent, has continuity of coaching and is yet to have his confidence knocked. If he’s as good as I’m led to believe from the 9ers supporters I know then we may have our first genuine superstar QB from the 2021 draft. Watch out for him breaking the pocket on designed runs. Seven rushing TDs is the minimum I’d guess at. Wildcard Round.
- Mac Jones. Be in no doubt, losing Josh McDaniels is huge. We all bow down to Bill for his accomplishments but he’s not been the offensive mind on this team. Jones had ups and downs last year as most rookies do, but on the whole he maintained that calm poise we’d seen in college and didnt let the downs affect his play. Without McDaniels to reassure him and call the plays that maximise his talents, it’s a real possibility that Jones takes a perceivable step back this season and fails to elevate the milquetoast players around him. That said, he still has the key factor locked in-mental agility to analyse a defence and organise accordingly. His success may hinge on getting big plays from Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. Playoffs feel a tad too far in the loaded AFC.
- Trevor Lawrence. I’m onboard the Jags revival under Doug Pedersen. Last year was always going to be a disaster under Urban Meyer, no rookie QB benefits from a rookie head coach, especially one as ridiculous as him. Wipe it from your memory and instead enjoy the Lawrence hype train in full swing. If Pederson can return the confidence that so clearly drained from Lawrence and back him up with sensible play calling and decent field position from a robust defence then the Jags will surprise many pundits. 12 tds to 17 ints last season was a poor return from such an acclaimed player, I’d expect those numbers to be comfortably reversed. 7 wins has to be achievable.
- Justin Fields. If he played for the 49ers he’d be top of this list. Instead he finds himself buried down here because the surrounding cast doesnt allow him to develop as he could. He has better physical tools than anyone bar Lance on this list and may only be second to Lawrence in terms of untapped potential. I want to believe in Matt Eberflus and he may be good for the team as a whole, but he’s a defensive minded coach tasked with unleashing the talent trapped within Fields. Luke Getsy has joined as offensive Coordinator – a man who’s spent years as the QB coach for Aaron Rodgers, which feels a bit like being the music teacher for Stevie Wonder. The best bet for the Bears is to establish the running game to buy Fields space to run and hope that Darnell Mooney and Fields can carry on their connection from the preseason (the 2 only tallied 2 TDs together last season). I’d love to see Fields succeed, but I suspect its another season wasted for the particular talent. Vying for no.1 pick
- Zach Wilson. This is where I coped most criticism last year, suitably unimpressed as I was with the Jets “star” that I labelled him Darnold 2.0. Well folks, bad news, I’m sticking with my summary. The Jets have added pieces across the board and definitely have a better roster than 12 months ago, but Wilson has yet to show that hes anything more than injury prone and conservative-highlighted by the fact that he limited his interceptions across the last 5 games of 2021 to zero…but only threw three touchdowns in the same 5 game stretch. The Jets season can be summed up by the fact their young star is set to miss up to four weeks to start the season as he recovers from injury and when he returns the o-line certainly doesnt look like the one he may have been hoping for. If he holds on to the ball as before (a-la Darnold) expect more time on the treatment table. Joe Flacco is still the best QB on the Jets roster, and that is a problem. 6 wins-ish, but Wilson wont play in all of them.
And Finally, he may not have been a 1st round draft pick but Davis Mills was last seasons second best rookie after Mac Jones. The talent on the Texans roster probably wont allow for much of a jump this season but don’t be surprised if he out performs the bottom half of the above list again. He and Brandin Cooks will put up numbers on a fair few unsuspecting teams and if the Texans decide to move on and select a new “face of the franchise” Mills will be in demand.