Patriots

Rookie QB Power Rankings: Why Mac Jones is the best in his class

Patriots

Turns out it ain't easy being a rookie quarterback in the NFL.

The five QBs taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft all have lofty expectations, but they're all works in progress, and Week 2 was proof: Three rookies in this group combined to throw seven interceptions Sunday.

NFL Power Rankings 2021: Where each team stands entering Week 3

The kids weren't all bad last weekend, though. New England Patriots rookie Mac Jones played his second week of turnover-free football, while the Chicago Bears' Justin Fields finally got his feet wet with some extended run.

So, how do the five first-rounders stack up after two weeks of play? Glad you asked.

Editor's Note: We'll track the progress of the first-round quarterbacks every Tuesday in our rookie quarterback power rankings. The rankings are based on a combination of recent performances and potential impact, so QBs who are starting get preference over those currently in reserve roles.

1. Mac Jones, New England Patriots

Week 2 stats: 22 for 30, 186 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 89.0 passer rating

Season stats: 51 for 69, 467 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 96.7 passer rating

We're aware that Jones is averaging just 6.8 yards per pass attempt, which is a big reason why he ranks sixth in the NFL in completion percentage (73.9%). We're aware that he's basically been a game manager so far.

Perry's Pats-Jets Report Card: Here's where Mac Jones can improve

But let's also acknowledge that he's been a pretty good game manager. The 23-year-old is making accurate throws on smart reads to take what the defense is giving him, which is more than his fellow rookies can say: Lawrence and Wilson have 10 combined interceptions through two games, while Jones has zero.

 

Jones is better set up for success than Lawrence and Wilson, but he's also taking advantage of the opportunity.

2. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 2 stats: 14 for 33, 118 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 37.2 passer rating

Season stats: 42 for 84, 450 yards, 4 TD, 5 INT, 57.1 passer rating

Lawrence faced a legitimate NFL defense in Week 2, and it wasn't pretty: The Broncos held the No. 1 draft pick to a 42.4% completion rate while picking him off twice. There's also this:

Not great. Lawrence faces NFL sack leader Chandler Jones and the 2-0 Arizona Cardinals this Sunday, so things might get worse before they get better in Jacksonville.

Lawrence still leads all rookie QBs with four TD passes and has the most upside of the group, but it's going to be a bumpy ride.

3. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Week 2 stats: 6 for 13, 60 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 27.7 passer rating; 10 rushes, 31 yards

Fields saw his first extended action Sunday when Andy Dalton went down due to injury. He threw a tough interception in the fourth quarter that allowed the Bengals to back in the game but also ran the ball 10 times as Chicago expanded its playbook for the dual-threat QB.

Fields should make his first NFL start in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns, and there might be growing pains. But the Bears are better off (and more fun to watch) with Fields running the show.

4. Zach Wilson, New York Jets

Preseason stats: 20 for 37, 258 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 82.9 passer rating

Poor Zach Wilson. The No. 2 pick looked completely overmatched against Bill Belichick's Patriots defense Sunday, throwing interceptions on his first two pass attempts and entering halftime with as many completions as picks (three).

Wilson made a few impressive throws in garbage time to pad his stats, and we actually agree with Rex Ryan's hot take that Wilson might be the Jets' most talented QB since Joe Namath. Talent is nothing without execution, though, and Wilson needs to be smarter with the football if he wants to be an elite QB.

5. Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

Week 2 stats: N/A

Season stats: 1 for 1, 5 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 127.1 passer rating, 3 rushes, 2 yards

 

Lance didn't even see the field in Week 2, as Jimmy Garoppolo game-managed San Francisco to a road win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

As long as the 49ers are winning games with Jimmy G., they'll likely take things slow with Lance. Considering how poorly some of his fellow rookies have played to date, Lance could vault up this list once he finally gets playing time.