Read Anthony Cervino’s 2021 NFL Draft report on Justin Fields vs Zach Wilson vs Trey Lance. After Trevor Lawrence likely will be selected with the No. 1 overall pick, which 2021 NFL Draft quarterback is best?
We all know the cliches: “It’s a quarterback-driven league." “It’s a passing league." “If you have two quarterbacks, you really have none." And so on. Thus, every offseason, incoming prospect quarterbacks are hyped and sometimes overhyped as we enter NFL Draft season — see Carson Wentz and Jared Goff circa 2016.
2021 is no different.
With the 2021 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, the latest rumors suggest we could see four signal-callers selected in the first 10 picks. While we know that Trevor Lawrence is likely the de facto No. 1 overall pick this season, the second, third, and fourth quarterbacks off the board will be a crapshoot in terms of order selected.
In this article, I will not only rank Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance, but I will also tell you the why behind my rankings. And if you’re good, I might even include betting picks and landing spots as well.
Read our 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Mock, which has all three quarterbacks going in the top 10.
Check out our 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Reports and Profiles on these elite quarterback prospects:
Justin Fields vs. Zach Wilson vs. Trey Lance: Which 2021 NFL Draft Quarterback Is Best?
Justin Fields, Ohio State
Similar to Zach Wilson, Justin Fields is 6-foot-3. However, outside of their height, these are very different quarterbacks.
Not only does the Ohio State alum don a bigger frame at 228 pounds, but he also has an extremely balanced skillset.
While Wilson needs to improve on his timing and anticipation to get the ball to his receiver, Fields is the opposite. One of his biggest strengths is timing, especially when tempo is on his side. What’s more, Fields is notably accurate when throwing downfield. Fields is also an accurate passer sideline-to-sideline and ample mobility to not only extend plays but to make them as well.
Fields can also run. Due to his size, Fields has no problem taking off if he sees open running lanes and putting his body in harm’s way. He can take a hit. Fields is also deceptively elusive and can make enemy defenders miss in the open field of play while also posing as an option in short-yardage scenarios.
While Fields is aggressive, he is also prone to mistakes trying to fit the ball into a small window. Like Wilson, this will be a larger issue in the NFL for the same reasons. And although Fields has some areas of improvement, most importantly, his overall vision, pocket awareness, and ability to read the blitz, he has only been a starter at the collegiate level for 1.5 years. Those areas can be improved with more experience and situational development.
Zach Wilson, BYU
BYU’s Zach Wilson brings a lot to the table. While his 6-foot-3 height is a non-issue, his 203-pound frame doesn’t exactly match up with Justin Fields or Trey Lance. However, don’t let Wilson’s smaller stature fool you. He can play.
Wilson is a vastly above-average arm talent. Not only does Wilson have a cannon as well as a smooth release, but he can also make nearly any throw with ease. Wilson is also aggressive and has no problem find a big play even if there isn’t one to the naked eye. He is a proverbial gunslinger.
The BYU prospect is also extremely mobile. Although Wilson isn’t exactly the fastest player on the field, he can turn on the jets to showcase his elusiveness which is a fantastic compliment to his aggressive play-style. Wilson has also demonstrated terrific poise under pressure and will hang in the pocket, eat the hit to make the throw.
While Wilson does play with sheer confidence, he does need to realize just when to hang on to the ball. He may have gotten away with a lot in college, but pro-level defenders will pick off his over-aggressive and errant throws. Wilson will learn from experience, however.
Because Wilson has a gun for an arm, he believes he can make any throw and fit the ball into windows that may not be there in the NFL with a much faster level of play. He will need to work on his timing and anticipatory throws instead of just relying on his arm to get the ball to his receiver. To sum it up, Wilson must learn how to trust that his pass-catcher will be there rather than only trusting his arm.
Trey Lance, North Dakota State
Although Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and Justin Fields have been mainstays in the top 10 of most mock drafts, Trey Lance has been shooting up draft boards.
With a similar stature to Fields — Lance stands at 6-foot-3, 221 pounds — size is not an issue with Lance as it could be with Wilson.
Lance does a lot of things well. While he is similar to both Wilson and Fields in terms of their aggressive style of play, Lance may be the best deep-ball passer of the trio with his robust arm. I wouldn’t exactly call Lance an elite athlete, but he is good enough to showcase elusiveness and mobility when need be.
With his size and strong lower-body, Lance is an above-average runner who is not afraid of contact. He will look for contact as a runner and is not afraid to lower his shoulder, eat the hit and pick up those additional yards to extend a drive or score.
Since he is not hesitant to take a hit, Lance is terrific in the pocket and undoubtedly poised under pressure. Lance is also an outstanding decision-maker. Back in 2019, he threw for 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He will not put the ball in harm’s way, which will minimize giveaways at the next level. If the play isn’t there, he will try to run, take the sack, check it down or simply throw it away rather than turning it over.
Similar to Fields and contrary to Wilson, Lance trusts what he sees as he is incredible with his anticipatory and timing throws. Another similarity to Fields is not exactly a good one. Fields had only started for 1.5 seasons whereas lance has only been the starter at North Dakota State for one.
Because of his inexperience, Lance could improve in some areas like field vision and understanding when to take off and when to hang in the pocket for a receiver to get open. He must also go through his progressions more rapidly and cease locking on one read. Overall, Lance is a raw payer with adequate upside.
Mac Jones, Alabama
Since the initial publishing of this article, Mac Jones has shot up draft boards. Listed at 6-foot-3, 217 pounds, his frame is in line with Wilson, Fields, and Lance, give or take some bodyweight. However, where Jones differs is in athleticism. He can make plays, especially when he leaves the pocket, but not at the rate of the aforementioned prospects. What’s more, Jones also has difficulties playing off contact and is not much of an ad-libber. He also showcases panic under pressure and could certainly work on his release and reads.
Despite his shortcomings, there are a lot of good things about Jones. He possesses terrific pocket awareness and won’t put the ball in harm’s way due to his decision-making. He can also make almost every throw with accuracy from a clean pocket with fantastic touch placement when necessary.
The biggest knock on Jones, however, is where he played his collegiate ball. Alabama. Jones had the luxury of playing behind one of the nation’s elite offensive lines. He was also surrounded by NFL-caliber skill-position players. In fact, WRs Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs were both first-round picks in last year’s NFL Draft while both Devonta Smith, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, and Jaylen Waddle are both projected as first-round picks in just a few weeks. Even RB Najee Harris is in the conversation for being the top running back prospect in this year’s class. Jones had an embarrassment of riches around him to ensure his success, including elite coaching.
Yes, Jones essentially ate from a silver spoon at Alabama. But, is that such a bad thing? All that does is make Jones a lot more landing spot-dependent than the other quarterbacks in the 2021 class. And c’mon, you’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe landing spot is everyone with most incoming rookies anyway.
Justin Fields vs Zach Wilson vs Trey Lance vs Mac Jones
- Justin Fields
- Zach Wilson
- Trey Lance
- Mac Jones
Before writing this article and really digging deep, I had Zach Wilson slated ahead of Justin Fields with Trey Lance at No. 3. However, I like Fields a tad more. Most notably because of Wilson’s 2020 campaign.
You might be saying to yourself, ‘This guy is nuts! Wilson threw for 3,692 yards with 33 touchdowns and three interceptions in 12 games in 2020.’ Yes, but what did Wilson accomplish in his first two seasons as a starter at BYU? While appearing in nine games each year in 2018 and 2019, Wilson combined for 3,960 passing yards with 23 touchdowns and 12 picks.
While Wilson is more experienced than Fields and Lance, he was a late bloomer. He could also be looked upon as a one-year wonder. Wilson also played against inferior opposition at BYU, which won’t help him translate with ease, necessarily, to the pro-level. The NFL brings a much-faster game and Wilson will have to adjust. There are also rumored character issues with Wilson, which could hinder some NFL teams from coveting him.
While Fields played at Ohio State surrounded by NFL-caliber talent, he also played against better competition. He is also bigger than Wilson and is a better athlete and runner. Although he is raw, only starting for 1.5 seasons, he has time to develop. Fields may not bring as much ceiling as Wilson, but he is a safer option who brings the intangibles. At the right landing spot, Fields could be a Week 1 starter who can win some games if there is enough talent around him out the gate.
For Lance, he is ranked last because of his inexperience. Yes, Fields only has a few more games under his belt, but he also played at Ohio State. Of the three quarterbacks, Lance stands out as a rusher who needs to work on his overall passing skillset. Off the bat, I don’t see Lance as a Day 1 starter as I foresee Fields and Wilson.
However, Lance can make an early impact as a gadget player, or, depending on how long it takes him to develop, he could take over a starting job later in the season like we’ve seen last year with Tua Tagovailoa. Now, I’m not saying that lance doesn’t have the arm or skillset to cut it in the NFL, I just think it will take him a little bit more time than the others.
There is a good chance that Mac Jones is taken ahead of Fields or Lance — I’m leaning Lance here. However, it is more fit than skill set. The 49ers and Patriots are both linked to Jones. Last month, the 49ers traded up to the third overall pick. They are taking a quarterback. Per reports, it will be Fields or Jones. ESPN’s Adam Schefter even went as far as marrying Jones to the 49ers. Nothing is a lock. Still, it is a significant enough nugget from one of the most reputable NFL Insiders in the game to take a mental note on.
If Jones landed with either the 49ers or the Patriots, it would be the best-case scenario for his NFL future. Both teams come with elite coaching, a sound offensive line, and enough skill position assets to allow the impending rookie to thrive at the next level. Both teams also deploy top-end defensive units that will not put Jones in negative situations often, something he is not used to. Jones did not play from deficit very much at Bama.
Quarterback Betting Picks
At PointsBet (with our welcome offer), there are several quarterback wagers. You can place money on the first, second, and third overall picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, but you can also bet first, second and third quarterback selected off the board, which is my focus.
*I will omit the “first quarterback selected" wager because the consensus assumes it is Trevor Lawrence, and I will not argue with that.
2nd quarterback to be drafted
- Zach Wilson (-250)
- Justin Fields (+250)
- Trey Lance (+350)
- Mac Jones (+1500)
- Trevor Lawrence (+2500)
- Kyle Trask (+5000)
The second quarterback selected in the 2021 NFL Draft will be Zach Wilson. While I believe Justin Fields should be the second signal-caller off the board, general consensus mock drafts have Wilson going as early as the No. 2 overall pick.
The only way I see Wilson falling is if his character issues come into play. After all, anything can happen or leak out from now until draft day — cc Laremy Tunsil’s weed gas mask during the draft.
However, Fields is getting (+250) odds to be the second quarterback off the board. It is not a bad wager to make with how these drafts could ultimately shake out. If the Jets stand pat at No. 2, there is a great chance Wilson is their guy. But if another team decides to trade up, we could see Fields go at that spot. A team like the Eagles or even the Panthers should have enough juice to move to the No. 2 spot. Fields could fit with either one of those teams.
3rd QB to be drafted
- Justin Fields (+140)
- Trey Lance (+175)
- Zach Wilson (+200)
- Mac Jones (+600)
- Kyle Trask (+5000)
- Trevor Lawrence (+5000)
Barring a change from now through the NFL Draft, it will likely be Justin Fields or Trey Lance being selected as the third quarterback off the board. While I see Fields as the second-best available, I have seen draft experts mocking him to fall all the way past the first 10 picks. It is unlikely; I am just telling you what I have seen.
To be safe, wager one of Fields or Lance. The smart money is on Fields, who carries (+140) odds here, but Lance is not too far behind at (+175), which suggests Vegas doesn’t see that much of a difference between the two.
Should the Jets stay at the No. 2 overall pick and take Wilson, I could still see teams like the Eagles or Panthers moving up to take one of the aforementioned prospects. The Falcons and Broncos, who select at No. 8 and No. 9 respectively, could also be on the move if they are in love with Fields or Lance as well.
If you are following the mock drafts, however, assume it will be Lawrence, Wilson then Fields, which means the latter is the best bet for this quarterback wager.
3rd QB to be drafted
- Mac Jones (-225)
- Justin Fields (+175)
- Trey Lance (+450)
- Zach Wilson (+1600)
At the time of the original writing, Fields had the best odds to be the third quarterback off the board in the draft. As I suggested in my updates, a lot has changed since then. Jones has skyrocketed up draft boards and as a result, Vegas has slated him with the best odds to be taken third overall by the 49ers (-225).
If you believe the rumors linking Jones with the 49ers are fugazi and they really want Fields, then you can snag favorable (+175) odds by placing a wager on Fields. However, I believe Jones to the 49ers is a real thing. If you consider the skill sets of the quarterbacks HC Kyle Shanahan has had success with in the past — Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, Jimmy Garoppolo — Jones is a lot closer to them than Fields is.
Want more 2021 NFL Draft analysis, predictions, and picks?
After you’re done watching Anthony Cervino’s breakdown on “Justin Fields vs Zach Wilson vs Trey Lance: Which 2021 NFL Draft Quarterback Is Best?"
- Tell Marcus Mosher your thoughts on his 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Mock, which has all three quarterbacks going in the top 10.
- Check out our 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Reports and Profiles on these elite quarterback prospects: