There have been many words written about the quarterbacks at the top of this 2021 NFL Draft class.
Trevor Lawrence was anointed as the top player to be had long before he was even eligible, and since it was set that the Jaguars had dibs on pick No. 1, it’s been safe to assume he’ll be in Jacksonville soon. As Zach Wilson’s draft stock has become solidified, it appears he’ll be the second choice behind Lawrence. After those two, there is some uncertainty about where the next few quarterbacks will go, but both Trey Lance and Justin Fields have a lot of fans in the draft community and are viewed as potential franchise changers. You can even throw Mac Jones’ name in there, too, as we’re trending more and more towards Jones being a first-round lock.
But, as the saying goes, “the draft is more than just one round,” and there are more than just those five quarterbacks in this draft class. Though the quarterbacks in the draft pool after those five don’t present as high of franchise-impacting certainty, we know that there will be some impactful names, whether that be as depth players or even spot starters.
So what are some of the ideal pairings we could see from some of the later drafted quarterbacks? To me, three quarterback-team pairings come to mind when answering that question.
Kyle Trask: New Orleans Saints
I recently tweeted out my view of Kyle Trask as a solid backup in the league—one who can stick around a long time with the traits he has. Trask has fantastic touch on his passes, understands how to read the field, and is good with timing routes. What he is not, is a strong-armed passer, hence why I think he’ll be a backup and never a long-term starter.
There are elements outside of just depth chart expectations that make good landing spots for quarterbacks. I would argue the coaching staff and offensive system play a bigger role for the players we’ll be discussing. For Trask specifically, getting to work with head coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. in the Saints’ Erhardt-Perkins system would be a great landing spot. The Saints, who were able to tailor their offense to Drew Brees’ diminishing arm strength, have the right kind of mindset as well as a good system in place for Trask’s best traits to shine. In an Erhardt-Perkins offense, you use two- or three-man route combinations (concepts) to create rhythm passes in a relatively quick offense.
The Saints brought back Winston and still have Taysom Hill, who they have shown they’re not afraid to play at quarterback. So Trask likely wouldn’t be a starting option for them in the first year, but again, the system and surroundings make for a good home to develop and hold value as a backup/spot starter.
Ian Book: Las Vegas Raiders
Book has been a wild-card quarterback his entire collegiate career, but he had his best year in 2020. His completion percentage was up, his yards-per-attempt was still strong and he threw the least amount of turnovers in a single season for his career. Still, I am not sure he gets drafted—maybe he’ll make it as a late-round pick—but regardless, I think the Raiders might be a good spot for him.
Book should be able to navigate Gruden’s West Coast offense, though its terminology in play-calling has a tendency to be long. He can hit the quick passes and the horizontal concepts to thin out the defense, plus Gruden should like Book’s mobility and moxie when plays break down. Also, there isn't a ton of youth in that quarterback room right now; the youngest quarterback is Nathan Peterman, who will be 27 this season.
There’s a reason Book could be an undrafted free agent, so I’m not talking about a path to starting, but Gruden likes Book’s type and is a good quarterback coach. This could be an interesting pair.
Kellen Mond: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This one is a bit of a projection, but I’m going for it anyway.
Kellen Mond’s best attribute is in the velocity of his throws. His ability to throw deep is there, just inaccurate right now. Mond’s biggest area of concern, beyond a need to improve overall with accuracy, is his decision making; accelerating the trigger on his decisions and when to bail on pressured pockets. While a typical Burce Arians offense demands a lot from its quarterbacks hitting shots deep to its outside receivers, Mond would be in an interesting spot to hone in on that kind of skill with Arians as his coach, Byron Leftwich as his offensive coordinator, and Tom Brady as his starting quarterback. Mond also brings some extra mobility Arians might like for plays outside of structure.
If you wanted Mond to start right away in the NFL, this wouldn’t be the system for him. However, with some time to develop, it could be a situation that presents the highest ceiling for Mond as a quarterback.