Trey Lance has dazzled early on in 49ers training camp.
The No. 3 overall pick has dropped jaws with his elite arm talent and opened eyes with his athleticism, leading many to believe he might win the starting job outright before the season starts.
Throws like this backfoot dime to Trent Sherfield have the 49ers believing they got the jewel of a loaded QB class.
But it hasn't been perfect for Lance, who looked mortal during Friday's practice, and he struggled with awareness in the eight-second red zone drill Tuesday.
Lance, however, did throw touchdowns to Brandon Aiyuk and Mohamed Sanu during a normal red-zone drill. Overall, it was an up-and-down day for Lance, who will see a lot of time during the 49ers' first preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The North Dakota State product admitted he was behind in OTAs, but worked hard in the 40 days between then and camp, leading coach Kyle Shanahan to say the rookie will play in some capacity for the 49ers this season. All in all, it's been a solid start for the quarterback many believed might take the most time to develop.
That no longer appears to be the case.
The 2021 QB class was loaded with talent. Trevor Lawrence (No. 1), Zach Wilson (No. 2), Lance (No. 3), Justin Fields (No. 11) and Mac Jones (No. 15) all enter the league with high expectations.
Lance has been impressive early in camp. Here's how the other four first-round picks are getting along to start their NFL careers.
We will offer a new rookie QB report card weekly and doll out grades once real stats are accumulated.
Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
The No. 1 overall pick had a rough start to his practice week, but turned it around over the weekend and dazzled during Saturday's scrimmage going 21-for-26 for three touchdowns, including a 40-yard strike to LaQuon Treadwell.
Coach Urban Meyer has not yet named Lawrence, the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck, his starter. But all signs point to Lawrence being as advertised.
Report: Still the savior
Zach Wilson, New York Jets
The quarterback taken one pick ahead of Lance has struggled so far to open training camp.
During Saturday's Green-White scrimmage, Willson threw two interceptions and led the Jets' first-team offense to just a field goal. On Monday, he went 5-for-13 in team drills and was sacked twice. He did throw two touchdown passes to Corey Davis, but overall, Wilson has been inaccurate and indecisive so far in camp.
“There’s a reason why being a rookie is hard in this league. There was a Hall of Famer [on Sunday] that was inducted [into Canton who had] a 71 quarterback rating as a rookie,” head coach Robert Saleh told reporters, referring to Peyton Manning. “It’s not easy to play quarterback in this league as a rookie. But it is going to get worse before it gets better.”
Wilson will play the entire first quarter of the Jets' preseason opener against the New York Giants.
Report: Regrets already?
Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
Much like Lance, Fields has been impressing everyone at Bears training camp.
The Ohio State quarterback has put on a strong display both his arm and his legs, including off-platform throws like the one he unleashed Sunday to Riley Ridley.
In short, Fields' arm talent has the Bears gushing. Take that and add in his 4.4 speed and coach Matt Nagy knows Fields' ability to run will give the Bears' offense another dimension when the rookie does eventually take over.
Andy Dalton still is expected to start the season at quarterback, but Fields is coming along quicker than expected.
"He’s getting close,” Nagy said when asked where Fields is at in his understanding of the offense, via The Athletic. “I know there’s a lot of praise in regards to where he’s at right now with the mental side of it. But there (are) still times we all got to be real in this thing, and I think the learning curve of where he’s at, he’s at a great place, but are there still mistakes? Yeah, of course. There (are) still times where Andy and Nick (Foles) are making mistakes.
“But (Fields) learns from them, and I think that’s where it’s valuable at nighttime and throughout the day when we’re watching tape, is to let him see it, so now he can take that and use it the next time he’s out there. But he’s very talented. He knows that.”
Fields is expected to see a lot of time in the Bears' first preseason game against the Miami Dolphins with most of the starters slated to sit.
Report: Appears to be the real deal
Mac Jones, New England Patriots
The Alabama product who was connected to the 49ers throughout the pre-draft process has had an up-and-down camp but is coming on of late in his battle to win the starting job over Cam Newton.
During training camp in 11 vs. 11 and 7 vs. 7 work, Jones is 124-for-186 (66.7 percent) with three interceptions and 11 drops, per The Athletic's Jeff Howe. Against the starting defense in 11-on-11 drills, Jones is just 33-for-68 (48.5 percent) with one pick. However, Jones has been much better lately, completing 66.7 percent of his passes against the starting defense in the last four practices.
On Monday, Jones and Newton shared top-of-the-depth chart reps, with Jones going 4-for-7 in 11-on-11 drills and 4-for-4 in the two-minute drill, per NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry.
Jones' accuracy, his calling card during a record-setting season at Alabama, has ticked up and it looks like he could push Newton to be the starting QB in Week 1.
The Patriots will face the Washington Football Team on Aug. 12 in their first preseason game. Expect Jones to get a lot of work as Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels analyze the QB battle.
Report: Might take some time