Never in my 40 years of watching NFL football, have I ever seen people try harder to manufacture three NFL quarterbacks more than they have with Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance.
I mean Trevor Lawrence even comes out and basically says he does not give a damn about winning and all social media can do is applaud him for having “such a balanced approach to life.” Yeah, that is really the guy I want under center when the game or season is on the line. His own father comes out and says in Sports Illustrated, “ He’s not award-driven. He’s not, “I want to win a Super Bowl at all costs.”
Are we listening?
Meanwhile, social media clamors over Zach Wilson – a guy on film who looks great half the time and has receivers sliding and jumping all over the place trying to catch his errant throws the other half the time.
Then we have a guy at North Dakota State University who has thrown about as many passes at his two pro days as he did in his entire college career and I sit and watch fans of a good number of teams crossing their fingers and hoping against hope their teams can somehow be “lucky” enough to get him. I would venture to say just about any able bodied college quarterback in America could have made any of the throws Lance made to his buddies indoors wearing gym shorts. Is this who the San Francisco 49ers have mortgaged their future for?
Neither Wilson (2020) or Lance (2019 and one game in 2020) really threw against any defensive backs we will ever even see play in the NFL. Wilson played a schedule about as soft as tissue paper last season and still managed to finish 9th all time at BYU behind a list of names that mostly never became anything in the NFL. I do also find it “ironic” that BYU has a way tougher schedule in 2021 against big name programs – conveniently the season after “Wilson’s big send off.” Lance threw against an even lower level of collegiate competition in the Missouri Valley Conference. Lance only threw 318 pass attempts on top of it for the Bison – and 113 pass attempts in high school (maxpreps.com). In the NFL I grew up with, a guy with that kind of football resume would be lucky to even get an invite to training camp. That limited experience now warrants a top-5 pick in the entire draft? Am I supposed to be impressed as an evaluator that Lance set an NCAA record for throwing 287 times without an interception when he played against a bunch of defensive backs who will never probably never be able to even get an NFL tryout?
One thing is true. All three of them have great agents and even better PR firms.
When I think of the greats I have seen come through the NFL over the past 40 years and I compare any of the three to those who have had success, these three do not remotely stack up. When I think of arm strength, I think of guys like Marino, Elway and Favre. I do not think of Wilson and Lance nor do they fire it over the middle in the intermediate range of the field like they did. And when I think of legendary quarterbacks, I think of an ultra competitive perfectionist like Peyton Manning and guys who had a chip on his shoulder, like Tom Brady. I do not think of a guy who outright boosts about not having a chip like Lawrence proudly does. The only accurate comparison people are making between Lawrence and Andrew Luck is, will he retire early?
Then to think these three are supposed to be the “saviors” of the three worst teams in the NFL?
What will happen when Lawrence finds out his extremely unconvincing play action fakes he used on practically every single throw in college do not actually fool an NFL defense? What will Lawrence do when he only tends to only pull the trigger when receivers are either open or coming open? Is that why according to PFF Lawrence threw the most screen passes in college football last season (87)? Can Lawrence actually really throw legitimate timing passes or was it all just one big smoke screen at Clemson to cover up for the fact he cannot? What happens to NFL QBs who cannot throw timing routes? What will happen when Wilson and Lance come up to the line of scrimmage and look out at exotic coverages pre-snap they have never seen before? Coverages that befuddle most young NFL QB’s no matter what program they came from?
What will happen when Trey Lance’s bland mid 4.5 speed gets him instantly blown up at or around the line of scrimmage when he tries to run first, which is instinctively what he wants to do? What will happen when Wilson drops back and does not see receivers running free as deer like he did against the Western Kentucky Helicopters where he went a staggering 18-32 for a breathtaking 224 yards?
After all, he is the same “generational talent” who ranks behind list of names such as Max Hall, John Beck, Robbie Bosco, John Walsh and Kevin Feterik at his own school on their passing yardage leader’s list – that is supposed to be the answer for the team I used to scout for?
Then I watch as the majority on social media says “give us anybody but Fields and Jones…anybody but them!” With Fields magically we all suddenly care about the list of names from Ohio State that never amounted to anything in the NFL that predates him. And with Jones, suddenly we all care he only really has one full season as a starter, of course in that one season all managed to do was lead the nation in throwing yardage, finish second in the number of touchdowns he threw and he did it against the absolute highest level of competition while winning the National Championship in the process, but that is supposedly irrelevant. Let us instead soak in the glory of Lance, who also started for just one season while completing only 66.8% of his passes in the D1 subdivision level he competed in. And QB Kyle Trask from the Florida Gators? He is not even part of this discussion that blazes across social media. All he did was set the SEC record for the most touchdowns thrown in 6 games. The same SEC that is widely known as the toughest conference in college football.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.
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