At this point, you're probably all tired of hearing about Trevor Lawrence because we certainly are. He had a fantastic three-year career at Clemson, he's going to be the No. 1 overall pick and he'll be tasked with revitalizing a franchise in Jacksonville that managed just one win last season. We've said it for months now, but if Lawrence's rookie season resembles anything like what Justin Herbert did for the Chargers in 2020, then it will be a resounding success.
Then, depending on your tastes, the rest of the Big Five includes Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Justin Fields and Trey Lance. (Yes, we've included them in the order we have them ranked -- that's right, Mac Jones is our No. 3 QB after Lawrence and Wilson, and just know that this makes people very, very angry, especially Eagles fans.) But what about those second-tier quarterbacks who won't hear their names called on Day 1, and may even have to wait until later on Day 2 -- or even Day 3? Who should we be watching for after the Lawrences, Wilsons and Jones are long gone?
Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
We watched Mond over the summer and came away thinking that he could really sling it around the yard, had some athleticism but not enough to regularly scare NFL defenses as a legit running threat (think more Patrick Mahomes than Kyler Murray), and made a lot of questionable decisions in the passing game. He felt like a late Day 3 pick.
Then we watched him in 2020 and we had a completely different perspective (his performance against Florida really got our attention). Yes, Mond is only 6-foot-2, and his hand size is only 9 1/4 inches, but neither was an issue during the season. What stood out, however, was how the ball exploded out of his hand, his ability to throw to all levels with touch, when needed, and accuracy, and how often he was able to squeeze the ball into tight windows, usually while putting it in a position where only his receiver had a chance to make a play.
Mond also showed a knack for knowing where pressure was coming from and either calmly hitting his hot route or dumping the ball off to his running back. We saw this again and again and again. Isn't wasn't perfect; Mond sometimes gets caught up in hero ball and instead of taking the sack or throwing it away, he'll force a pass into double- or triple-coverage. His mistakes can also snowball; instead of making an adjustment early in the game after a miscue he'll exacerbate matters with more miscues (see the LSU game for a prime example). But those missteps were fewer and further between than what we saw in 2019 and that's the point -- does a quarterback show improvement over the course of a career, and if so, by how much?
So what does this all mean for Mond's draft stock? For us, he looks like a Day 2 pick based on what we saw on tape in 2020, and as we sit here here's our QB2 after the Big Five above and Kyle Trask below (put another way, he's our QB7, but that doesn't sound nearly as dramatic). How much better can he get will be an important part of the discussion too; unlike Trask and Davis Mills and Jamie Newman, Mond's been a starter the last four seasons, so he's had plenty of reps. In that time, his completion percentage has improved each year and his yards per attempt, TD/INT ratio and passer rating were all career bests in '20.
Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
Trask is one of the best touch passers in the country, but NFL teams will have questions about his arm strength and athleticism. He can overcome some of the physical shortcomings because he's accurate, throws with anticipation as well as anyone in college football, and is also incredibly smart. And don't misunderstand, Trask isn't a statue -- he moves well enough in the pocket to buy time, and he can even move outside the pocket and make plays downfield -- but he'll never be a threat to run. NFL teams know this, of course, but that will have to be part of the calculus that comes with drafting a pure pocket passer with limited physical tools.
Still, despite the lack of world-class athleticism, Trask moves well in the pocket, keeps his eyes downfield, and has an ability to put the ball where only his receiver can make a play. The other side of that coin, however, is that a) Trask was throwing to Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney, both likely to go in the first round later this spring, and b) he's probably close to his ceiling in terms of physical development as a quarterback. That said, Trask also hasn't played a ton of football; remember, he didn't take over the starting job at Florida until early in the 2019 season, after Feleipe Franks suffered an injury. In 24 starts he completed 67 percent of his throws with a whopping 68 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Now, these are similar to the concerns we hear about Mac Jones, but the difference is that Jones has a better arm, is the better athlete and is better at processing information. Put another way: Trask and Jones are more alike than, say, comparing them to Justin Fields, but Jones exceeds Trask in just about every category, even if only by a small margin.
Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
Mills has been buzzing among the Twitter draft media the last few months and there is a lot to like about his game; he's a traditional pocket passer with a plus arm who gets the ball out quickly and in rhythm when he's at his best. He throws well to all levels and typically doesn't force what isn't there (though when he does the results can be hard to watch -- the UCLA game was a wild ride in that regard). When he's something less than that, Mills locks into his first read, is stubborn to come off it -- often taking unnecessary sacks as a result -- and lacks the athleticism to consistently make plays with his feet outside the pocket.
Like many quarterbacks on this list, Mills hasn't played a lot of football; he was behind K.J. Costello in 2019 until Costello suffered an injury and has started just 14 games in college, attempting 438 passes. So some of this can be forgiven as growing pains, something that can be fixed with experience and coaching.
Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest/Georgia
Newman, who played at Wake Forest from 2017-2019, transferred to Georgia before the 2020 season but never played after he decided to opt out. Other than the Senior Bowl, where Newman at times was understandably rusty, all we have to go on is Wake Forest tape from more than a year ago. There are reasons to be excited about Newman's game -- he has a good arm, shows incredible touch on deep balls and, perhaps most importantly, is one the best running quarterbacks in this class. That also means he's exposed to getting hit, something he'll have to try to minimize at the next level -- Lamar Jackson has done a pretty good job of avoiding big collisions while Russell Wilson has made it something of an art form.
While Newman's tape was up and down at times at Wake Forest, he also hasn't played a ton of football. He started just 19 games in his college career and managed to complete 61 percent of his throws in 2019 with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Those numbers don't jump out at you, but the NFL team that drafts Newman knows they're just scratching the surface on his talent. He has all the physical tools you look for as quarterbacks continue move away from the traditional pocket passers, but it will take some time for Newman to get there.
Feleipe Franks, QB, Arkansas
First off, Franks is huge -- at the Senior Bowl he measured 6-foot-6, 234 pounds and had 10-inch hands. He also has an insanely strong arm and the athleticism to run the ball (he had a career-high 91 rushing yards against Texas A&M last season). If you're building a quarterback in the lab, he looks like Franks.
Franks began his career at Florida, where he started in 2017 and 2018, and likely would've finished his career there if not for an injury four games into 2019. The emergence of Kyle Trask led Franks to transfer to Arkansas for the 2020 campaign and he played some of the most consistent football of his career. Still, there is room for growth; Franks doesn't always trust what he sees and he'll hold the ball too long, resulting in sacks or poor decisions. He can also struggle to get through his reads consistently, and while he can throw the ball out of the stadium, he still struggles with accuracy on short and intermediate throws. But Franks' improvement this last season will be enough for an NFL team to draft him as a developmental player with the chance to blossom into something more than that down the road.
Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
Ehlinger's athleticism and toughness are his best attributes, but the other side of that coin is that he leaves himself open to too many hits, either in the pocket while trying to buy time or in the open field when he's a ball carrier. But he also does some things well as a drop-back passer that will intrigue NFL teams. The question, as is often the case with young players, is consistency. Ehlinger had 25 touchdowns during the 2020 season against just five interceptions, but he also completed just 60 percent of his throws, his lowest mark since his freshman campaign.
And while Ehlinger did show the ability to push the ball down the field, he doesn't possess the big-time arm to consistently make tight-window throws, nor does he have the top-tier athleticism of a Kyler Murray or Lamar Jackson, which would allow him to rely more on his legs when a play breaks down. Ehlinger will have a chance to make an NFL roster as a backup, the best fit might be something similar to the role Trace McSorley carved out for himself in Baltimore.