There was no debate about who the top quarterback prospect was in the 2021 NFL Draft. Trevor Lawrence held that distinction, and it wasn’t particularly close, even in a draft class that included Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Zach Wilson, and Mac Jones. Lawrence was the generational prospect, whereas the other first-round passers were just that — first-rounders.
But as is usually the case with any rookie entering the NFL, Lawrence’s ability to have early-career success has been hindered by the team he ended up with. The Jacksonville Jaguars have been an absolute trainwreck this season, and it’d be hard if not impossible for any quarterback (including established veterans) to produce in the chaos Lawrence has been thrust into.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Jones, who was selected 15th overall by the New England Patriots. He’s been the most productive and successful of this season’s first-year passers, in and in Week 17’s showdown between the Jaguars and Patriots, Jones outshined Lawrence by a wide margin in the Patriots’ 50-10 victory. Much of his success can be attributed to the culture and stability of the Patriots organization.
Lawrence completed 17-of-27 passes for 193 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, bringing his season INTs total to 14, which is tied for the most in the NFL. Jones, meanwhile, completed 22-of-30 passes for 227 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Jones hasn’t been perfect this year — he’s thrown 12 INTs of his own — but he’s played a winning brand of football and has the Patriots to a 10-6 record and first place in the AFC East.
Trevor Lawrence over his last 9 starts including today:
– 1 TD Pass
– 8 Int
The Jaguars currently trail the Patriots 41-3. pic.twitter.com/HkmtCTdWVs
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 2, 2022
Jones has been exactly what his pre-draft scouting report suggested he’d be. He doesn’t make costly mistakes and his pinpoint accuracy has combined with his advanced decision-making to give the Patriots a chance to make a deep playoff run.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 2, 2022
Despite the different directions Lawrence and Jones’ rookie seasons have taken, few talent evaluators would take Jones over Lawrence heading into 2022. The upside Lawrence offers remains much greater than Jones’. At least, it does for now. But if Jones becomes the new “Drew Brees,” there’s going to be a lot of second-guessing with how the quarterback class of 2021 unfolded.