Davis Mills’ sole survivor Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson fight
These NFL Rookie QB rankings are getting harder and harder to write as freshman callers have continued to struggle. There hasn’t been a single performance out of 11 total starts that looks like anything close to impressive. As such, this will not be read with optimism, although we do look to the future of this NFL season. It will be difficult for these quarterbacks to look worse, but chances are they will never improve much in 2021.
NFL QB Rookie Rankings | Week 4
It is important to note that just like our NFL Power Rankings or globally beginners ranking, this is a cumulative effort.
1) Davis Mills, Houston Texans
Mills has had an unhappy reception in the NFL. In his first starting action as a pro, he scored 19 of 28 for 168 yards and a touchdown. While everything seemed to go incredibly fast for the rest of the rookies, Mills generally looked good seeing the pitch. He won first place in the NFL Rookie QB rankings. Next week, the Texans will ask for more.
When he had time to deliver the ball, Mills showed how natural he was as a passer, placing the ball where his receivers could at least attempt to play. The above piece shows the confidence Mills has in his arm and in his receiver. Cooks couldn’t finish the game, but Mills got that ball in the only place it could go.
And I know what you’re thinking, “Why wouldn’t Mills throw this vertically all the way to the seam when the safety is heading for the line of scrimmage?” “
Well, I already had the same question. This is not a top down reading. Sewing isn’t even an option on this piece as it is never meant to work that way. And even if it does, the back cornerback is likely going to be looking for work, as the Panthers show here.
I was impressed with Mills’ balance and trigger as a passer, and he showed his ability to throw on the hoof. There were certainly some ugly moments, but the overall picture should be positive for the young QB.
2) Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
Among rookie QBs, Lawrence has easily shown the most high-end playoffs so far this year. However, the silly games he delivered as a pro are a bit confusing. There really is a vibe of “doing too much” with Lawrence right now.
He also made throws like this. Lawrence is under pressure but keeps his eyes on the pitch and throws his safety blanket, Marvin Jones. His touchdown pass was even more impressive, as he went from his main reading on the right side to the left before throwing a dart to the back of the end zone.
Still, I wish Lawrence would use his legs more. I wish the Jaguars offense used their legs more. Jacksonville’s offense needs another weapon, and Lawrence has the athleticism and vision to be a force on the pitch, both on designed runs and QB scrambles.
He is still getting a feel for the speed of NFL play. The defenses get their hands on some of his shots that are slightly off target, and there have been times he’s completely missed shots.
Once the game starts to slow down, Lawrence should become a more consistent passer.
3) Mac Jones, New England Patriots
Jones really only had one bad game. He did what he was asked to do against the Dolphins and the Jets. But Jones falls to third in the NFL Rookie QB rankings due to games he refuses to make or just can’t physically make.
Do yourself a favor and pause this video when the intended recipient is between the hashes. Intermediate throws aren’t much more open than that. With Jones, it’s not a unique thing. It systematically leaves splash games on the ground.
And when things go down in the pocket, you can go ahead and just chalk the game up. It would help if Jones played in an attack with receivers who can still go their separate ways, but that is not the case in New England.
He must live on his precision and his decision-making. But when the Patriots fall, Jones doesn’t have the firepower to get back into the game. Without more help, his ceiling is capped.
4) Zach Wilson, New York Jets
I felt Wilson would have a hard time early in his NFL tenure, but even I didn’t think things would be so bad. In college, Wilson struggled to play within the confines of the BYU offense. Most of his game was to make plays outside of the structure and throw 50/50 balls with exceptional placement to big receivers.
I expected the mental side of the game to take time for Wilson. But I didn’t expect its slow processing speed to negatively affect its ability to deliver catchable passes consistently.
It was all a struggle. Losing left tackle Mekhi Becton was practically a death sentence for rookie QB. Faced with the dreaded Denver pass and secondary rush, Wilson never stood a chance. Lawrence and Wilson operate the same, but Lawrence has been much more consistent within the Jacksonville offense, despite an overall less beneficial pattern.
Hopefully Wilson can splash a bit against a bad Titans secondary in Week 4.
5) Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
I don’t even know where to start. Fields was atrocious Sunday. As one of his biggest supporters coming from Ohio State, I struggled to watch his performance. I pulled the pressure washer and tried to get rid of the stench, but my wife decided the potential hospital visit wasn’t worth it.
I’m not sure I agree. Watching those quarterbacks for the NFL Rookie QB rankings might be more painful.
Chicago’s offensive line might as well not be there because they don’t do much in terms of blocking. There is a chance that crept into Fields’ subconscious because it moves too fast or freezes depending on the game.
He’s not ready to play. At least he’s not ready to play behind that offensive line and with this coaching staff in command. It doesn’t help that even Allen Robinson struggled to part ways against the Browns.
These teams could break these QBs
I’m generally a supporter of the “trial by fire” for NFL rookie QBs. Still, I think a few of these franchises could cause irreversible damage to their young quarterbacks if they continue to put them in these situations.
Urban Meyer has always been a bad employee. Now it’s obvious his attack isn’t going to cut him to NFL level. Matt Nagy is almost gone, and things in New York aren’t great either.
The Bears and Jaguars absolutely need to start looking for their next head coaches, and he has to be someone with a proven track record of developing quarterbacks at the NFL level. If they don’t, and this QB class’s physical talent is wasted on bad franchises, the world may never forgive them.