The quarterback craze did not disappoint in the 2021 NFL Draft.
It’s been widely accepted that the first two selections of the draft were going to be Trevor Lawrence to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Zach Wilson to the New York Jets. But after that, it was anyone’s game. Though there were some educated guesses, the final say on who would be the No. 3 overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers came down to the wire, and in the end, it was Trey Lance who earned that honor. Plus, the Justin Fields and Mac Jones storylines dominated the draft conversion until they were both selected at No. 11 and No. 15, respectively.
But there was another run on quarterbacks later in the draft that once again captured our attention. With the final pick in the second round, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Florida Gators quarterback Kyle Trask. Then, two picks later, the Minnesota Vikings selected Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond, and with the very next pick, the Houston Texans selected Davis Mills from Stanford. That made for eight quarterbacks in the top 70.
You’ll read plenty of words on the landing spots of the first five quarterbacks and when we can expect to see them on the field, but here I want to talk about one of the later quarterback selections that didn’t make much sense to me, and that is Trask to the Buccaneers.
I want to start by saying Trask is a fine prospect. With a talented offense around him, Trask was able to be a great facilitator with offensive weapons like Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, Trevon Grimes, Justin Shorter, and others. Trask has some of the best touch passes you’ll find in this draft class and knows how to float a ball underneath receivers in stride. His accuracy with timing passes is something he hangs his hat on, and at the college level, he piled up the stats with it.
But Trask appeared limited in terms of physical gifts. First, escapability is not his strong suit. Though the Gators would run some power draws with him in short-yardage situations, his mobility is not something he leaned on with much success. And beyond that, Trask did not appear to have a very strong arm. There are two ways to judge arm strength: distance and velocity. Even for quarterbacks who have decent arm strength, they can sometimes angle their throws to float long enough in the air to carry adequate distance—they can mask deficiencies in arm strength that way when pushing vertically. But something you cannot mask is velocity—hitting tight-window throws on a rope when throwing short to intermediate distances. This is the area where I felt Trask was most limited.
Trask would be an ideal backup in the NFL, but likely not much in terms of a starter. The skill set and ability he displayed in college lend themselves to the type of quarterback who, even if given a starting shot, is a quarterback you look to upgrade early. I thought he would be a nice backup quarterback for a team looking to add some younger depth in the middle rounds.
I did not expect one of those teams to be the Buccaneers, and I did not expect that to come in round two.
When I watched Trask, I just did not see a Bruce Arians type of quarterback. Arians’ offense is demanding and vertical. It’s about hitting high-risk throws with regularity, whether that’s deep down the field or fitting the ball through a tight window. It’s about pushing the ball down the field with distance and pace. I don’t believe that is Trask.
Much of Trask’s success at Florida came from a quick-hit offense that was able to stay on rhythm because of the talented receiving options at their disposal. While the Buccaneers have a great receiving corps as well, Arians’ offense requires the quarterback to hold onto the ball much longer than Trask had to at Florida. When Trask was forced off-script, you saw him unravel more than adjusting; he simply did not have the mobility to buy time or the arm strength to make up for late decisions.
Some would tell you that this pick is simply a backup option to learn behind Tom Brady and take over when Brady retires in one or two years. I hear that argument, but I have my concerns about that train of thought, too.
The Buccaneers are in a winning window, and they will be for the next two seasons—the length of time I assume Brady will be their quarterback. Over the course of the next two seasons, Trask should not see the field. If Brady goes down for an extended period of time, they aren’t winning anyway. If he goes down for a short period of time, they wouldn’t want to put a young Trask in, as he would be getting the first snaps of his NFL career in crucial games as they try to lock up division titles and seeding in the playoffs. They’ll likely be putting in a backup, veteran quarterback. (I believe Trask didn’t choose No. 11 to wear for the Buccaneers because a short-term deal is coming with veteran Blaine Gabbert to return again this season.) Instead, this pick could have been used on a position that could have either pushed a depth player to be better or create competition for a starting position in the next two years.
I was a fan of what the Buccaneers were able to do in the draft as a whole. The Joe Tyron pick was exactly what they needed with situation and depth athleticism at the outside linebacker spot. The Robert Hainsey pick gives them an experienced (34 games as a starter) swing lineman who can be the “next man in” if one of their starting five goes down. The Jaelon Darden and Grant Stuard picks give them a leg up on the competition with special teams.
All of those picks will benefit the Buccaneers in useful ways during their winning window over the next two years. I don’t think Trask does, and I'm not convinced he will after, either. I said before the draft that Trask can have a long career in the NFL as a preferred backup. I just don’t think that means much for the Buccaneers.