NFL training camps are in full swing and hopes are high for all 32 teams.
However, nowhere are hopes – – and expectations higher than they are in Jacksonville, New York and San Francisco. That is because three of the top five draft choices in the 2021 NFL draft are playing on these teams and all of them are quarterbacks (QB).
Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars’ QB), Zach Wilson (Jets’ QB), and Trey Lance (49ers’ QB) have the weight of the world on their shoulders as they are expected to turn around bleak situations. Jacksonville had the worst record in the NFL last season (1-15) and the Jets were the next worst team (2-14). The 49ers (6-10) had the 12th worst record, but they traded up to the third pick overall in the first round.
Lawrence went number one overall, then Wilson and then Lance…1…2…3 to three of the most desperate teams in the National Football League. That certainly is true for the two worst teams, and it can also be said for the 49ers as well. After turning in three out of four losing seasons and the seemingly failed Jimmy Garoppolo experiment, San Francisco’s head coach, Kyle Shanahan, and their general manager, John Lynch, were absolutely on the hot seat and needed to do something to buy more time.
Now all three QB’s are expected to turn around these situations.
So far, reports out of training camps in Jacksonville, New York and San Francisco have mostly been all positive. A week ago, the USA Today said the first impression of Lawrence was, “wow.”
At a Jets’ practice, Wilson was reported to complete 14-20 passes and threw an 80 yard-touchdown in the process.
However, is it possible that these three camps are being manipulated by the coaching staffs to make Lawrence, Wilson and Lance look a lot better than they actually are? Could the Jaguars, Jets and 49ers team defenses be creating ‘more favorable’ situations to falsely try to build the confidence levels of these rookie QB’s? Are these young signal callers really headed towards a rude awakening as their pre-season debuts are right around the corner?
Prior to the draft, I was the only voice in America that said all three, Lawrence, Wilson and Lance look like busts.
In my 40 years of watching the game, I have never seen three more over-hyped manufactured QB’s – – and the hype has continued clear through the off-season, mini-camps and now in training camp.
So which is it? Are Lawrence, Wilson and Lance going to be busts or are they going to be the faces of these three franchises?
Has Lawrence figured out how to accurately throw intermediate level timing routes (something he did not look like he knew how to do in college)? Has Wilson figured out how not to look bad half the time like he did last season at BYU while playing against a soft schedule? Has Lance made the quantum leap into the NFL after looking average throwing the ball against glorified high school level competition last season while playing at North Dakota State? Will his mid-4.5 (40 yard-dash time) speed remind anyone of QB Michael Vick?
We are going to find out soon enough as the Jaguars, Jets and 49ers all will play their pre-season openers Saturday, August 14.
The hype machine got all three of these signal callers paid, but one thing the hype machine cannot do, is keep these three from being exposed much longer.
Real NFL defenses are waiting.
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, Mike Tannenbaum, 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.