Ranking the 10 QBs Who Won't Be First-Round Picks in 2021 NFL Draft
Even more than most years, the 2021 NFL Draft will be largely defined by quarterbacks.
There are five quarterbacks who are virtual locks to be selected in the first round. In fact, few would be surprised to see Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones all selected in the top 10. Even those five being selected in a row with the first five picks isn’t out of the question. But they aren’t the only quarterbacks
When we get to the second round and beyond, there will be more passers selected. Some of them are actually good signal-callers who will be starting games in the NFL within the next couple of years.
Let’s take a closer look at the quarterbacks who won’t be first-rounders in 2021 but could have a future in the NFL.
10. Peyton Ramsey, Northwestern
After a modest career at Indiana, Peyton Ramsey was able to put himself on the NFL’s radar during a graduate season at Northwestern, helping the Wildcats reach the Big Ten Championship Game.
He has underrated mobility and even ran some RPO-type schemes while at Indiana. In terms of arm talent, Ramsey falls short of what the NFL requires. But he’s smart, athletic, and experienced, which will give him a chance to hang around as a backup or third-string quarterback.
9. K.J. Costello, Mississippi State
K.J. Costello could be an interesting project for the right team. He has the size at 6-foot-5 and arm strength to be an NFL quarterback. He also played in two different systems in college, starting his career at Stanford and then playing in Mike Leach’s air-raid system at Mississippi State in 2020.
He wasn’t the most effective or consistent college quarterback. But the tools are there if an NFL team wants to be patient and keep him as a third-stringer for a couple of years to see if he can develop.
8. Feleipe Franks, Arkansas
The size and arm talent are there for Feleipe Franks, who had an up-and-down stint at Florida before finding himself at Arkansas in 2020.
He’s probably not ready to be a backup right away, so a team will need to be willing to keep him on the roster as a third-stringer for a year or two. But there’s no doubt that he was able to elevate the Arkansas program during his lone season with the Razorbacks, who were 2-10 the year before he arrived.
The progression Franks showed with the Hogs is evidence that he has the potential to at least be a solid backup in the NFL down the line.
7. Ian Book, Notre Dame
Ian Book has the type of skill set that could make him an ideal backup in the NFL. He doesn’t have elite arm talent, but he’s accurate and makes good decisions. He also has more mobility than most people realize, which always helps.
Perhaps more than anything, Book won a lot of games at Notre Dame. He has a winning mentality and a lot of intangibles that quarterbacks need to come off the bench and be successful.
6. Sam Ehlinger, Texas
In many ways, Sam Ehlinger was a great college quarterback who just doesn’t fit what the NFL wants. He has all of the intangibles you could ever want. He’s a great leader, a relentless competitor, and leaves everything on the field, almost willing Texas to wins at times. However, his arm strength is subpar by NFL standards and he relies too much on improvisation. Those are huge flaws for NFL quarterbacks that limit Ehlinger to backup duty and perhaps a condensed playbook.
That will limit his opportunities in the NFL, even if it’s easy to want to give a QB with his moxie an opportunity.
5. Shane Buechele, SMU
Shane Buechele started his career at Texas, so there’s no question that the raw talent is there. Of course, he had to transfer to SMU to find success, becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the country outside of the power conferences.
His size is a bit of an issue at 6-foot-1 and he has serviceable athleticism. But he’s an accurate passer who understands how to run an offense, which could make him an effective backup in the NFL with a little bit of upside.
4. Davis Mills, Stanford
NFL teams are starting to pay attention to Davis Mills ahead of the draft.
He didn’t quite have two full seasons at Stanford as the starter, so he’s far from a finished product. But Mills did display good accuracy in college, finishing his career with 18 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
His lack of athleticism is a problem that he won’t be able to fix. But he moves well enough in the pocket and has shown plenty of intelligence and leadership qualities. I
n the long run, he’s probably nothing more than a backup. But he has good tools and didn’t have a strong supporting cast at Stanford, which gives him plenty of room for growth.
3. Jamie Newman, Georgia
Jamie Newman hurt himself immensely by opting out of the 2020 season. He was in a good position to succeed and gain a lot of attention at Georgia after transferring from Wake Forest.
Nevertheless, all of the tools are there. Newman has good size, arm strength, and athleticism. However, his ability to read defenses, throw with anticipation, and make accurate passes are all questionable, in part because he didn’t play much at Wake Forest before the 2019 season.
He could have answered some of those questions at Georgia this past season. Instead, he’ll head to the NFL as a long-term project, albeit one with considerable upside.
2. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Kellen Mond has always had a world of potential but never seemed to fully tap into it at Texas A&M. He has the arm strength and athleticism, not to mention plenty of game experience with the Aggies against quality SEC defenses.
But things never fully clicked for him, which is why he was always a good-but-not-great college quarterback. There were always a few too many questionable throws or decisions that held him back.
If he can find the right situation in the NFL, he could become a suitable backup and perhaps get a chance as a starter someday.
1. Kyle Trask, Florida
For a while, Kyle Trask looked like the Heisman Trophy frontrunner in 2020, putting together an outstanding season at Florida.
As someone who was a backup in high school to D’Eriq King and then waited his turn in college until the second half of the 2019 season, Trask is the perfect profile of an NFL backup. He won’t improvise with his athleticism, but he’s accurate on short and medium routes and makes good decisions. He’ll stay within the structure of the offense and keep things on schedule, which is what teams want in a backup.
Of course, all of those qualities could make Trask a low-end starter who has a long career and plays a role on multiple teams in the Ryan Fitzpatrick mold. It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s not a bad career if you can get it.
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