The 2021 quarterback class is already looking like a strong group. I can see up to five passers being selected in the first 32 overall picks, at minimum three, assuming everyone declares. There have already been debates about who QB1 is, but in my eyes, it’s not much of a contest at all. The true competition starts at QB2. So who are the top quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft class, and how would I rank them as we head into the summer? Let’s get into the class rankings.
Quarterbacks: Top 10 in the 2021 Draft class
1) Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
In my eyes, Lawrence is undoubtedly the top quarterback in this class. He’s also the top QB since I’ve started scouting. I can’t speak on whether or not he’s better than what Andrew Luck was, because I hadn’t scouted Luck, but he’ll be younger at the time of being drafted. Lawrence possesses elite arm strength, he’s accurate at all levels of the field, and he also has elite size and athletic ability for the position.
2) Justin Fields, Ohio State
Fields had arguably the second-best QB season in all of college football last year. He threw for 41 touchdowns to only three interceptions and added another 10 rushing touchdowns. Fields possesses excellent physical abilities but is still raw as a passer. His downfield ball placement lacks consistency and his mechanics could use some tweaking. If he’s not careful, the quarterback listed behind him could surpass him for the QB2 title.
3) Trey Lance, NDSU
As a redshirt-sophomore, many believe that it’s unlikely Lance declares for the 2021 NFL Draft. Well, it’s even more unlikely that a freshman would win the Walter Payton award (the FCS equivalent to the Heisman award), yet Lance went ahead and did that last year. Lance has elite physical traits and impressed last year with 28 passing touchdowns to zero interceptions. There’s a reason a few people already think Lance has a bid as QB1.
4) Brock Purdy, Iowa State
While Lawrence, Fields, and Lance should all be picked up in the first ten selections, I do think there’s another first-round talent in this quarterback group. Purdy is a fearless gunslinger with good arm talent and quality athleticism. He’s raw and unrefined but his physical abilities and nature to push the ball down the field make him a very good option as a developmental quarterback. A team could take him late in the first to ensure they get the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.
5) Jamie Newman, Georgia
Newman comes in and replaces 2020 Draft pick Jake Fromm, which could be a secret blessing for Georgia. Newman is more physically gifted than Fromm, and he’s much more willing to take risks and push the ball downfield. With uncertainty at the running back position for the first time in years, Newman will be the driving force of the Georgia offense. If he can smooth out some of the rougher edges, he has a chance at being one of the first 32 selections next April.
6) Tanner Morgan, Minnesota
Morgan’s arm is talented enough to make the necessary throws, and he is athletic enough to function outside the pocket. He is a sleeper to watch in the 2021 Draft class. Last year, Morgan led a very surprising and competitive Minnesota team to one of their best seasons to date. A model of consistency, expect another strong season from Morgan.
7) Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
The former four-star prospect and IMG Acadamy star hasn’t been the quarterback Texas A&M thought they were getting when they made him an offer as a junior in high school. Mond has excellent physical tools and has shown flashes of brilliance, but his lack of consistency is worrisome. After back to back brutal schedules, Mond now has his easiest schedule to date in his most important year. How he can take advantage of it will determine how high a draft selection he is.
8) Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
Martinez had an impressive run as a true freshman in his first year at Nebraska. However, he didn’t take the next step in his development that many had hoped. With good arm talent and excellent athletic ability, Martinez is a dual-threat QB but still lacks the threat of being able to beat teams from the pocket. Similar to Mond, he’ll need to take the next step as a passer if he hopes to be a high selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
9) KJ Costello, Mississippi State
Before the season had started, many spoke of Costello as a potential top-50 selection. Unfortunately, Costello lost his season to injury five games in and no one was able to form a complete evaluation on him. Costello has now transferred to Mississippi State where he’ll pair up with Air Raid legend, head coach Mike Leach. Costello has a big frame and a live arm, and his floor is likely higher than either of the players selected.
10) Zerrick Cooper, Jacksonville State
A former top-10 QB recruit, Cooper was initially a quarterback for the Clemson Tigers. However, after realizing he wouldn’t win the starting QB position battle against Trevor Lawrence, Cooper transferred to Jacksonville State. There, he made an impact as both a rusher and a passer. Cooper is obviously a step above his competition but that may prove a crutch in his evaluation.
Honorable Mentions: Myles Brennan LSU, Mac Jones Alabama, Shane Buechele SMU
The 2021 quarterback class is obviously headlined by the top two guys in Lawrence and Fields. However, as of late, we’ve seen a surge of fans for NDSU’s Lance. Some have even gone so far as to dub him the preseason QB1 for next year’s class. Personally, this seems foolish as Lawrence is, in my eyes, the best QB prospect we’ve seen since Luck. He is likely even better. Fields also has an edge over Lance because of his dominance at Ohio State last year and the fact that Lance plays at an FCS school. However, all three are top-10 prospects and could very well be three of the first five overall selections.
In the second tier of quarterbacks, there’s talent, but a lack of consistency or readiness scares me. At the top of this tier is Newman, the new Georgia transfer who has the potential to be a day one selection if he can put it all together in his new offense. Behind him, is the high floor Morgan, who is leading a sneaky good Minnesota team. Rounding out the top-10 are high upside QBs who all possess strong physical tools, but each lacks development as a passer. Whichever can show the most growth from the pocket will separate themselves from the rest.