2021 NFL Draft QB Watch: Kellen Mond, Mac Jones and Zach Wilson emerge as legit prospects


Trevor Lawrence can seemingly do no wrong. But you already knew that. And that probably won’t change. Fortunately for Lawrence, Adam Gase probably won’t be the Jets’ head coach if/when he lands with Gang Green. 

And now, about a month into the season, we’re starting to see other quarterbacks boost their draft stock, as everyone at that position is technically jockeying to be the third quarterback off the board after Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields, whose season begins Oct. 24. Time to examine the passers who stood out and a few who simply did not this weekend.

Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Lawrence nearly threw an interception on a short out route on Clemson’s opening drive. After that, he was spectacular. And the nearly disastrous start didn’t faze him. He showed even more quarterback amnesia when he placed a teardrop perfectly to Frank Ladson Jr. that was dropped on a third-and-16, then went right back to him on the next possession on an even better (fadeaway) throw into the bucket on third-and-long. 

There was a classic “NFL throw” on a deep out from the far hash mark, and all of that happened in the first half. Lawrence gave everyone a slight scare when he stayed down after a seemingly innocuous hit against Miami, but there are no long-term concerns. Against easily the most challenging opponent to date, Lawrence looked the part of the No. 1 overall pick. He was 29-of-41 for 272 yards with three touchdowns, no picks (one dropped) and scored as a runner on one of his eight carries.  

Mac Jones, Alabama

Everyone’s starting to realize Jones is underrated as a quarterback, which would actually kind of ruin his underrated status. Anyway, he went off for 417 yards in the defense-less Alabama-Ole Miss contest Saturday, and there were a lot of NFL-caliber throws from the junior quarterback. My favorite was a throw as he was stepping up out of the pocket that traveled 35 yards in the air and reached his receiver just before he stepped out of bounds near the end of the first half. In a four-point game with under five minutes to go, Jones found Jaylen Waddle on a long ball off play-action for what basically was the dagger. 

Jones isn’t a high-caliber athlete for the position, but subtly bounces around in the pocket when the situation calls for it, displays good accuracy to all levels of the field and knows his arm-strength limitations. Against the Rebels, he took what the defense gave him frequently en route to his huge evening. 

Kyle Trask, Florida

Trask finished 23-of-32 for 312 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions against Texas A&M. A large portion of his production came via quick, schemed tosses and yards after the catch, but he did drop this downfield shot to Kadarius Toney for a 37-yard touchdown in the third quarter. 

A back-shoulder toss down the left side in the fourth quarter that landed a quarter of the yard to short and fell incomplete on third down was costly, but Trask led a touchdown drive on the next possession. Despite his size —  6-foot-5 and 240 pounds — Trask doesn’t have a rocket. I did notice a few throws downfield that were made with almost no lower-half rotation. However, it’s easy to spot that some of Trasks tosses could use more speed.

It was another smooth performance for Trask in a game without many high-degree-of-difficulty throws. 

Kellen Mond, Texas A&M

While they were both very good, Mond outplayed Trask in TAMU’s upset of Florida. His game was about as close to flawless as it gets. He was outstandingly patient inside the pocket all afternoon, and oncoming pressure didn’t lead to hurried throws with unbalanced footwork. There was a long ball in the first half and a few intermediate strikes before getting hit. His first touchdown pass was a thing of beauty between two defenders converging on the ball from different directions at different levels of the field. 

In the second half, Mond’s rhythmic play continued. If he wasn’t ripping the football in stride to his first read, he calmly moved through his progressions and threw with plenty of velocity even if coverage was tight. Although he and Trask had similar statistics, Mond’s game featured more challenging throws, and the senior quarterback was spot-on all afternoon. He went 25-of-35 for 338 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. 

K.J. Costello, Mississippi State

It seems like a decade ago that Costello threw for 623 yards in Mississippi State’s win over LSU. He tossed four interceptions against Kentucky. Let’s run through them. The first was a brutal pick on a quick screen in which he clearly didn’t see a defensive lineman directly in the passing lane. 

The second could’ve been a touchdown but was a high-ish throw and after being tipped was grabbed by a Wildcat defender. The third was an ill-advised pass down the sideline as pressure mounted and was in double coverage. The final nail in the coffin for Mississippi State’s chances at a comeback came when Costello tried an underneath pass deep in his own end that was easily intercepted and walked in for six. It’s been a cataclysmic downturn in production for Costello after the fairytale start to the season. 

Zach Wilson, BYU

On Twitter, I saw Wilson’s nickname is the Mormon Manziel, which is just tremendous. And watching him, I see it, although for as much of a blast that Manziel was in college, I was significantly lower on him as a prospect than the consensus. But, obviously, it’s early, so I haven’t formed any concrete opinions on Wilson yet, of course. 

Against UTSA, Wilson ripped a deep crosser while moving up into the pocket. The ball popped out of his hands. His second touchdown was actually vintage Manizel. As he scrambled right, he lofted a ball into back right corner of the end zone, to a place so high only his wideout could come down with the football. 

In the third quarter, there was a pinpoint accurate deep shot down the field off play-action. A few plays later, a little Reggie Bush back juke on a quarterback keeper. Wilson’s cherry on top against UTSA was a mini fadeaway back-shoulder on a third-and-8 in the fourth quarter. Wilson is fun watch and has NFL-caliber talent. He finished 22-of-30 for 292 yards with two touchdowns with no picks. 





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