With just a couple days until the 2021 NFL Draft, football analyst Liz Loza offers a snapshot of the top prospects at each position, including their pro comparison and best fantasy fit. Here, you have some of the top quarterbacks in the class: Clemson Tiger Trevor Lawrence, BYU Cougar Zach Wilson, and Ohio State Buckeye, Justin Fields.
[2021 NFL Draft: Running back fantasy primer]
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson Tigers
Pros: Athleticism, arm strength, anticipation.
Cons: A touch of hero ball in big moments.
NFL Comp: N/A — yes, you read that correctly. We've never seen anyone like Lawrence before, and I'm excited to witness the story he writes for himself in the NFL.
Fantasy Fit: Jacksonville has offensive weaponry. Whether it’s the deep threat DJ Chark (2.23 deep targets per game in 2020, WR5), the versatile second-year receiver Laviska Shenault (18 rushing attempts in 2020, WR4), or former Lions vet Marvin Jones, Lawrence has an opportunity to put up numbers. His mobility alone will likely rank inside the top-15 fantasy producers at the position.
The bigger story will be with which of the aforementioned pass-catchers he develops the most chemistry. That’s a drumbeat we’ll need to hone in on over the coming months. I’ll tell you what — right now, the Marvin Jones sleeper piece is already writing itself.
The perennial No. 2 WR has posted 9 TDs in three of his last four seasons. He’s additionally managed top-30 fantasy stats in each of those outings. I understand the excitement for Shenault and his do-it-all skill-set, but in terms of fantasy value … Jones is someone to track.
Zach Wilson, BYU Cougars
Pros: Uncanny ability to throw off-platform; heads-up player with plus anticipation and timing; elusive as a runner.
Cons: Level of competition faced; durability (shoulder/hand) issues; questionable fundamentals.
NFL Comp: The popular comp is Baker Mayfield, but I see a lot of Drew Lock in his game.
Fantasy Fit: If the rumors are true, Wilson is headed to East Rutherford.
The rapidity reflected in his playing style is an undeniable fit for what the Jets are expected to install under Mike LaFleur. Frenetic athleticism — in tandem with an uptempo outside zone scheme — is peak Shanahan.
I expect Wilson to deliver on plenty of off-schedule throws in a system that plays to his strengths. But how quickly will the 21-year-old absorb the density of this particular playbook? And how many INTs will he throw in the process? How will this relatively green (or at least, new to each other) passing-attack mesh?
Right now Jamison Crowder appears the safest bet to produce. I’m hopeful that Denzel Mims will put it all together and shine. His physical gifts could make this a fun offense. And if the 2020 version of Corey Davis shows up, he could add some polish to the receiving corps.
What I’m most interested in, however, is if the Jets will take a receiver before Day 3. That’ll tell us a lot about where LaFleur believes his team’s strengths and weaknesses lie. And while it might be a longshot, if it’s THIS guy, I’m likely to be all-in, as he bonds with Wilson and represents a choice pick in the Jets’ newest era.
Justin Fields, Ohio State Buckeyes
Pros: Routinely accurate; high-end mobility; excellent size and strength for the position.
Cons: Holds on to the ball too long; occasional processing issues; less accurate on the run.
NFL Comp: Dak Prescott
Fantasy Fit: An impressive blend of power and agility, Fields has the ability to create on his own, be it with his arm or his legs. In possession of a quick release, the 22-year-old is an electric passer who can accurately deliver the ball to all levels of the field.
Detractors will say he holds onto the ball too long. They might also point to his accuracy waning when he throws on the move. And his pocket awareness — specifically remaining calm in the face of pressure — needs improving.
Still, the good far outweighs the bad. While experience will, undoubtedly, push Fields to evolve his current skills are set up to ROI in an RPO heavy offense.
About that RPO heavy offense...
San Francisco seems like a nice fit, but Vegas odds continue to shift ahead of the draft, with the latest having Mac Jones the current betting favorite and even Trey Lance moving ahead of Fields.
We have yet to see what will happen with Jimmy G, but Fields’ mobility certainly makes him, at least, a super-flex target in 2021 were he to land in the Bay. If he falls, however, well then the takes should get interesting.
Engage with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF
More QB profiles ahead of the NFL draft:
Listen to the QB Rookie Snapshot podcast episode