The 2020 season could be the final one in the long, storied career of a certain New Orleans Saints’ franchise quarterback. The Saints need to start thinking about the future at the quarterback position, and there are a few potential replacements for Drew Brees in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The team already has the talented, all-purpose gadget man, Taysom Hill, waiting in the wings. And it has recently been suggested that Hill will be the man when Brees finally hangs it up. However, Hill will be 30 years old at the start of the 2020 season and is unproven as a full-time quarterback in this league.
The Saints also brought in former Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston as an insurance policy in 2020. Winston is another very talented and accomplished quarterback. Unfortunately, he does not have the accuracy to run this offense consistently. Therefore, the team may be looking for a better schematic fit for the long-term.
The 2021 NFL Draft offers a deep and extremely gifted group of diverse quarterback prospects following the 2020 season. Below, I will discuss three potential Brees replacements that the Saints should and possibly will consider as the long-term face of this franchise. New Orleans is in a great spot to win a Super Bowl in 2020 but could look like a much different offensive team in 2021 with a new man under center.
Three possible replacements for Drew Brees in the 2021 NFL Draft
Trey Lance – North Dakota State
When discussing top quarterback prospects in the draft, we do not often hear about a player from North Dakota State as being the number one guy. Only two signal-callers have ever listened to their name called from the school, Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz in 2017, and 2019 Los Angeles Chargers’ fifth-rounder, Easton Stick. Wentz was the number two overall pick and seemingly put the school back on the map in terms of NFL Draft talent.
Fast forward to the 2020 season, and redshirt-sophomore Trey Lance is a legitimate dual-threat NFL first-round hopeful. He is a powerful open-field runner and possesses one of the strongest deep-ball arms of eligible 2021 NFL quarterbacks. Lance also has a quick release and is extremely accurate when he sets his feet. His tools as a quarterback prospect are tantalizing and will undoubtedly force an NFL team to use a first-rounder on him next April.
Lance is one of the more intriguing and exciting players that could be available a year from now. NFL.com writer Daniel Jeremiah recently discussed the ultra-talented Lance as maybe the top quarterback prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft, even above Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
We both took a look at the top 3 college QBs. Based on first look, 3 game evaluation, my opinion might be a little shocking to some out there. pic.twitter.com/zzTIX1yeYQ
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) May 26, 2020
While I don’t believe Lance ends up as the QB1 this coming April, he has a legitimate shot to go in the top 10 and could even unseat Ohio State’s Justin Fields as the QB2. If that happens, the Saints will probably need to make a move to secure his services as an eventual replacement for Brees. However, that would be a risk worth taking and could set this offense up for long term success in New Orleans.
Kyle Trask – Florida
After the first round, there are a host of intriguing options that could be available for the Saints. My favorite among the second-day replacement options for Brees is Florida trigger man, Kyle Trask.
The Gators’ quarterback is a very intriguing prospect in that he did not begin 2019 as the starter. Former starter Feleipe Franks received all of the hype entering last season, but he dislocated his ankle in Week 3. Trask became the starter for the remainder of the season and provided a spark to this Florida offense.
Trask made his first start against Tennessee in Week 4 and went on to throw for almost 2,800 yards and 24 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. The sparkplug quarterback also added three touchdowns on the ground for the Gators.
Kyle Trask — One of the best quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft Class
▪️Timing ▪️Accuracy▪️Touch pic.twitter.com/92i8iFv1dd
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) May 14, 2020
All of these tools are essential to becoming successful in this Saints’ offense that Brees and coach Sean Payton have built to perfection. Trask also has ideal size and outstanding arm strength for the position, allowing him to see the field exceptionally well and process his reads quickly. He gets rid of the ball speedily and on-time in ideal spots for the receivers to make plays.
Trask would be a very nice fit in this offense and provide a potential starting quarterback that New Orleans can build around as early as 2021.
McKenzie Milton – Central Florida
In addition to great passers, we also have some intriguing athletes in the 2021 quarterback class. Lance is one of those players, and so is Central Florida’s McKenzie Milton. A native of Hawaii, Milton was a star during the 2018 college season before suffering a horrific knee injury that sidelined him in 2019.
During that standout 2018 campaign, Milton was a legitimate Heisman candidate while passing for 2,663 yards and 25 touchdowns, and rushing for 307 yards and 9 more scores in only 10 games.
Milton was also terrific in 2017, as he passed for 35 touchdowns and rushed for seven touchdowns. Like Brees, Milton is undersized for the position but is sturdy and makes plays when it counts. His addition would provide the offense the ability to maintain some versatility going forward. Assuming he is entirely healthy, Milton could sit behind Hill for a year or two while replacing him as a gadget player on offense.
Hill has been an outstanding threat as a runner and receiver for the Saints the past few years, and Milton could also provide a similar spark if Hill becomes the full-time starter at quarterback. Take a look at Milton’s ability to get outside of the pocket and make a tremendous deep throw with terrific touch.
The Golden Knight passer should also be available in the later rounds as a developmental player if the team prioritizes the offensive line and skill positions first in the 2021 NFL Draft. Milton is not the perfect prospect, but I believe Payton could mold him into a useful NFL player and suitable replacement for Drew Brees and this New Orleans team moving forward.
Scott Gorman is a writer for PFN covering the 2021 NFL Draft. You can follow him @sgormanPFN on Twitter.