Most of us expect Trevor Lawrence to be a future star in the NFL, but what about the rest of the quarterbacks in the class of 2021? With the Jets trading Sam Darnold and the 49ers trading up to the no. 3 overall spot, based on the Niners draft needs, there could be three quarterbacks taken with the first three picks.
Mac Jones vs Trey Lance comparison
What does that mean for the best QB prospects outside of Lawrence? Could the Niners draft Mac Jones or Trey Lance third overall?
Right now, those two appear to be the most likely options for San Francisco. Let’s take a look at which one has the more promising NFL future.
Mac Jones Draft analysis
A year ago, Jones wasn’t exactly on the NFL’s radar. In fact, some believed he wouldn’t even win the Alabama quarterback job in 2020 with talented freshman Bryce Young arriving on the scene. But Jones won the job and proceeded to have an amazing season, throwing for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns while helping the Crimson Tide win a national championship.
He also beat out Lawrence and others for both the Davey O’Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm.
As a pro prospect, part of what makes Jones stand out is his polish. He’s close to a finished product in terms of his mental understanding of the game, how he reads defenses, and how he goes through his progressions. Those attributes should enable him to step onto the field in Week 1 and start for an NFL team. That should make him an appealing choice for a team that needs to draft a quarterback who can start right away.
On the downside, Jones is lacking in some areas. While he has an accurate arm, he lacks the kind of elite arm strength that some of the other quarterbacks in this class possess. The same can be said for his lack of athleticism. In fairness, Jones is mobile enough and instinctive enough to move in the pocket to create throwing angles for himself. However, he’s not going to pick up a lot of yards with his legs.
Trey Lance Draft analysis
Lance might be the biggest mystery in this year’s quarterback class. He was under-recruited coming out of high school, which is why he ended up at North Dakota State. Also, because of the pandemic, he didn’t have a 2020 college season. As a result, 2019 was his only full season in college. To be fair, he threw for 2,786 yards with 28 touchdowns and no interceptions while also rushing for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns.
PFF Grade on throws past 1st read since 2019: (min. 60 attempts)
1st – Justin Fields – 90.6
2nd – Zach Wilson – 90.1
3rd – Trey Lance – 87.2
7th – Trevor Lawrence – 78.6
8th – Mac Jones – 75.7 pic.twitter.com/CEWpY86rwC
— PFF (@PFF) April 2, 2021
Needless to say, his athleticism is a big part of his appeal. Like so many of the young, blossoming quarterbacks in the NFL, Lance is a threat with his legs and can fit into an offense that uses zone-read concepts. There’s also no doubting that he has the arm strength to make all of the required throws in the NFL.
The questions, of course, are with his NFL readiness. Not only did he play just one full season in college but he also played at a lower level. It’s fair to question how much of a learning curve Lance will have in the NFL since he’ll be making a bigger jump than quarterbacks like Lawrence and Jones who played for top-flight programs.
Mac Jones vs Trey Lance: Verdict
In the Jones vs Lance debate, Jones is more likely to make an impact as a rookie and should have a solid career.
However, much like his days at Alabama, he’ll need a strong offensive line and dynamic playmakers to fulfill his potential.
Lance, meanwhile, will need a little time to get up to speed. But he has the arm strength and athleticism to be something special, and in the long run, he will have a better NFL career.