Simulating rookie seasons for each of the five first-round QBs


Mac Jones is one of several intriguing rookie quarterbacks to keep tabs on throughout the 2021 NFL season.

Also selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft were No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars), No. 2 pick Zach Wilson (New York Jets), No. 3 pick Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers) and No. 11 pick Justin Fields (Chicago Bears). Each is expected to handle the majority of the snaps under center for their respective teams, though Lance and Fields will begin the campaign as backups.

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Jones was named the New England Patriots' starting QB after veteran signal-caller Cam Newton's surprising release. The 15th overall pick impressed throughout training camp and in his three preseason appearances, but how will he fare on the big stage?

Our partners at Strat-O-Matic simulated the 2021 seasons of Jones and his fellow rookie QBs to get an idea of what to expect. Here were the results.

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Lawrence, who's widely considered the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, enjoyed a solid rookie campaign in Strat-O-Matic's simulation despite being on a lackluster Jaguars team. The former Clemson star finished with 381 completions in 627 attempts for 4,330 yards, 28 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and an 88.4 rating. He also showed off his underrated wheels with 293 rushing yards for two TDs.

While Lawrence's individual numbers were promising, they didn't translate to victories for Jacksonville. Strat-O-Matic has the Jags posting a 6-11 record in the first overall pick's debut campaign. Lance's 49ers and Jones' Patriots contributed to two of those losses.

Zach Wilson, New York Jets

Perhaps Jets fans should prepare themselves for more disappointment in 2021 as Strat-O-Matic predicts a rough rookie year for their prized first-round pick. Wilson struggled the most out of the five rookie QBs in the simulation, completing 58.4 percent of his passes for 3,838 yards, 15 TDs, and 16 INTs. He finished with a 75.6 rating, the lowest of the group.


To make matters worse for Wilson and the Jets, they were blown out twice by the Mac Jones-led Patriots. In Week 2, Jones tossed threw two TD passes while Wilson tossed three INTs in a 34-6 rout. New York fell 28-3 in the Week 6 matchup as Jones threw four TDs and two INTs. Wilson went 15-for-30 for 132 yards in another uninspiring performance.

With Wilson at the helm, the Jets finished their season with a 4-13 record.

Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

Assuming Lance takes over for Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco, the North Dakota State product could be in for an encouraging rookie season. The dual-threat QB was 313-of-522 (60.0%) on the year, passing for 3,663 yards, 28 TDs, nine INTs and a 92.0 QBR. He also added 530 yards and six TD on the ground.

Lance earned notable wins over Lawrence's Jaguars and Fields' Bears, helping the 49ers to 10-7 record.

Team record: 10-7

Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

If Strat-O-Matic's simulation is any indication of what's to come, the Bears should consider making the switch from Andy Dalton to Justin Fields ASAP.

Fields had the best rookie year of all five QBs, completing 65.2 percent of his passes for 4,494 yards, 34 TDs and only five INTs (101.5 QBR). He also notched 395 rushing yards for four TDs to help Chicago to a 12-5 record. That's an Offensive Rookie of the Year-caliber campaign for the former Ohio State standout.

Mac Jones, New England Patriots

Jones' rookie season was promising, though not quite as impressive as Fields or Lance's. 

The 15th overall pick went 340-of-553 (61.5%) for 3,981 yards, 23 TDs and 11 INTs (88.9 QBR). That was enough to lead New England to a 9-8 record, which included two wins over Wilson's Jets and a victory vs. Lawrence and the Jaguars. Predictably, Jones wasn't much of a threat on the ground as he rushed 12 times for 14 yards, though he did sneak in one touchdown run.

For the sake of comparison, Cam Newton completed 242 of his 368 passes (65.8%) for 2,657 yards, eight TDs, and 10 INTs (82.9 QBR) in 2020. The ex-Pats QB also tallied 592 rushing yards for 12 TDs.

Jones' rookie season is set to begin Sunday, Sept. 12 when the Patriots host the Miami Dolphins. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET.