Santa Clara, Calif. ( Associated Press) — The performance didn’t come close to the noise that the quarterback of the 2021 class produced.
The quarterback had monopolized the first three batsmen overall, something that only happened for the third time in draft history. For the fourth time in history, five were selected in the first round.
Thus, expectations were high for Trevor Lawrence and company.
But whether it was due to a lack of opportunity, insufficient support or the general struggles of a rookie, the six first-year quarterbacks who made several starts last season were rather disappointing, leaving New Englanders Mack Jones and Davis Mills of Houston.
As he approaches his second year in the NFL, all six have one more chance to answer the forecasts: Lawrence in Jacksonville; Zach Wilson with the Jets; Trey Lance in San Francisco; Justin Fields in Chicago; Mack Jones and Mills anticipate starting in Houston, the generation will have a chance to live up to the hype. All holders are as mentioned.
“That’s the goal: to make a significant leap forward in the second year,” first-year Jaguars coach Doug Pedersen said of Lawrence. “I think you can build on what he did last year, from the fact that he played throughout the season. We can build on that and hope there are no limits.”
Sharing the same goal are New York, Chicago, New England and Houston, where their rookie has started at least 10 games, the second time five rookie quarterbacks have reached double digits since the league merged.
Here’s a look at what to expect from six quarterbacks who started at least 10 games last year as rookies:
Trevor Lawrence, Jaguar:
Lawrence entered the NFL in 2012 as the most credible prospect in the position since Andrew Luck. The result went from playing in the NFL’s most dysfunctional franchise to Urban Meyer with no coach and a roster with too many holes.
He struggled several times in 2021, finishing with 12 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions and leading 3-14 as a starter. He had nine fumbles, too many passes dropped (33) and sacks (32), struggled with constant pressure and a punchy defense that forced him to play back several times.
He said, ‘I lost a lot of balls last year. I think it’s important to find the balance, be smart and put the team in the best position possible to win,” Lawrence said.
Zach Wilson, Jets:
Wilson had a poor start as a rookie. He struggled with adjusting to play behind a powerful offensive line at BYU and then handed himself several holes in the Jets.
Wilson was last in qualifying quarterback (69.7) and completion percentage (55.6%), but he thinks those numbers will improve with more confidence.
“When you understand where to go with the ball and you’re confident and you understand the offense you can be accurate because you know what to do.”
Trey Lance, 49ers:
Lance had the least playing time as a rookie of the class, starting only two games when starter Jimmy Garoppolo was injured. But in San Francisco he doesn’t hesitate to give the keys to the offense to Lance, who brings in a running ability and a mighty arm to expand the field.
And Lance has the best of positions with a roster full of key players in key positions who made it to the NFC Finals.
“Last year I was definitely in a different state mentally,” Lance admitted. “I feel a lot more confident, knowing what I’m doing and knowing the offense better.”
Justin Fields, Bear:
Fields went from a very powerful team in college with Ohio State to an NFL team that had many shortcomings in the offensive line, receiving staff and planning. This was reflected in the results when he completed only 58.9% of his passes in Chicago with a rating of 73.2.
He believes that suffering so much will be rewarded with a teaching, with a new staff of coaches led by Matt Eberfluss.
“I don’t like to fail, but you have to be able to bounce back and know how to get back to that state of mind to break it.”
Mac Jones, Patriots:
Last season’s most successful rookie was the fifth pick overall in the first round. It helped a lot to fall into a more stable position with a solid team and a strong coaching staff led by Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels is gone, and Jones is ready to take on more responsibility than last year in which he won a game in Buffalo despite throwing only three passes on a windy night.
“He’s made tremendous progress. He did a great job last year, but now he’s way ahead of where he started. He’s made significant progress.”
Davis Mills, Texan:
Mills was a pleasant surprise as a rookie after being selected in the third round. He took the starting job in Week 3 and showed potential and promise in 11 starts for a team like Houston. He threw 11 touchdown passes and just three interceptions in his last six games, including back-to-back victories over the Jaguars and Chargers in December.
“I think I’ve developed a lot since the end of last season. I think I feel the progress and I took it off-season and started playing really fast in training camp, Mills said.