Patriots

Rookie QB Power Rankings: Where Mac Jones stands among competition

Patriots

How's this for a stat: Of the 15 NFL games played Sunday, exactly one third involved teams led by rookie quarterbacks.

Trey Lance made his first start for the San Francisco 49ers in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 5, joining all four of his fellow 2021 first-round draft picks in starting under center. Even Texans third-round pick Davis Mills got the start in Houston, bringing the total of rookie QBs on the field Sunday to six.

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That's a great sign for the future of the league. But succeeding as a first-year QB is a very tall task, especially if you're on a below-average team. Case in point: Mac Jones and Justin Fields were the only rookies to lead their teams to victory Sunday.

How did each rookie signal-caller perform in Week 5, and who did enough to shake up our power rankings? Let's find out.

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 5 stats: 23 for 30, 231 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Season stats: 135 for 190, 1243 yards, 5 TD, 5 INT, 86.4 passer rating

Jones wasn't even the best rookie QB on the field Sunday, as Mills surprisingly dissected the Patriots' defense. But aside from an ill-advised interception, the Alabama product delivered another strong performance.

 
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Jones completed 76.7% of his passes (setting an NFL rookie record in the process) and capped off a game-tying drive in the fourth quarter with a 13-yard touchdown strike to Hunter Henry.

While he's still throwing primarily short passes, Jones' 7.7 yards per attempt Sunday were a season high, and that number would have been higher had Jakobi Meyers not dropped a wide-open deep ball.

The question remains whether Jones can beat a team solely with his arm, and we may find out next Sunday against a Dallas Cowboys team that's stout against the run but weak in the secondary.

2. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Week 5 stats: 12 for 20, 111 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 3 rushes, 4 yards

Season stats: 37 for 72, 458 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT; 20 rushes, 59 yards, 1 TD; 64.5 passer rating

The Detroit Lions and Las Vegas Raiders aren't exactly formidable opponents, but credit where it's due: Fields has won two straight games as the Bears' starter.

The Ohio State product played turnover-free football -- the only first-round rookie not to turn the ball over in Week 5 -- and let Chicago's rushing attack do most of the work in a workmanlike 20-9 victory.

He may have to do a little more work in Week 6 to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

3. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 5 stats: 22 for 33, 273 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 7 rushes, 28 yards, 1 TD

Season stats: 104 for 142, 175 yards, 6 TD, 8 INT; 24 rushes, 110 yards, 2 TD; 71.3 passer rating

Lawrence showcased his athleticism Sunday and is up to 110 rushing yards on the season after racking up 28 yards and a score on the ground in Week 5.

That's the encouraging news. Less encouraging is that Lawrence has just three touchdown passes to five interceptions in his last four games and hasn't topped 300 passing yards since Week 1. The Jaguars appear to be embracing the rushing attack -- and losing games.

4. Zach Wilson, New York Jets

Week 5 stats: 19 for 32, 192 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT 

Season stats: 98 for 171, 1117 yards, 4 TD, 9 INT; 62.9 passer rating

Who else can say they've thrown an interception on two different continents?

Wilson kept his pick streak alive against the Atlanta Falcons in London and is on pace to throw a whopping 30 interceptions, which would tie Jameis Winston (2019) for seventh-most ever in a single season.

 

There's only so much Wilson can do on an awful Jets team, and he has to take more chances than a QB like Jones. But nine interceptions is still nine interceptions.

5. Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

Week 5 stats: 15 for 29, 192 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT; 16 rushes, 89 yards

Season stats: 25 for 48, 354 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT; 27 rushes, 133 yards, 1 2-PT; 88.4 passer rating

Lance showed plenty of competitive fire in a 17-10 loss to the undefeated Arizona Cardinals. He also made some rookie mistakes, though, throwing an interception on his second attempt of the game and taking some unnecessary hits while fighting for extra yardage.

If the 49ers want Lance to be their QB of the future, 16 rushing attempts isn't the best way to preserve him. Then again, it sounds like Kyle Shanahan will go back to Garoppolo after the team's Week 6 bye, so we may have to wait a bit for Lance's next start.