There is plenty of talk about the Atlanta Falcons targeting a few of the top quarterbacks in this year’s 2021 NFL Draft. Sitting comfortably at fourth overall, they could possibly be in position to grab the next in line as the team’s future franchise quarterback.
However, what if they pass on those elite prospects and target the quarterbacks in the later rounds? Which quarterback prospects could they potentially target to develop over time? Let’s turn the focus to the passers in the 2021 NFL Draft that are not quite on the marquee but could be developmental projects down the line.
Stanford QB Davis Mills
Mills is an interesting subject. He has generated enough buzz in recent weeks that some analysts are saying he could be drafted as early to the first round, as compared to a what I believe is a more suitable landing zone of early day three.
Mills is not known for his athleticism or his movement outside of the pocket. What does work in his favor is his ability to maneuver in the pocket and his sharp decision making. Mills is also one of the more effective play action passers in the draft, and his accuracy is definitely one of his strong suits. In each of the last two seasons, Mills completed 65% or more of his passes.
With his low sample size as a player, very limited athleticism, and his inconsistent ball placement, Mills is closer to a career backup role than he is a relied upon starter at this stage of his career.
Projected draft range: Early 3rd - mid 4th
Wake Forest QB Jamie Newman
There is plenty of intrigue surrounding Newman’s ability and his career trajectory. The obvious tools are there from Newman, and from arm strength to mobility to his solid frame, Newman is a developmental project who can one day become a starter.
There are several components of his game Newman needs to truly work on, and those weaknesses are preventing him from being a possible first or second round selection. His accuracy is inconsistent and his progression time in the pocket needs to speed up a bit. Also, Newman shows tendencies to throw at moving targets instead of putting his passes in front of the receiver, the anticipation throws that enable many quarterbacks to thrive.
During his final full season (2019 with Wake Forest), Newman reached career highs in completion percentage (60.9), passing yards (2,868), passing touchdowns (26) and passer rating (145.3). To m, that showed that Newman has the ability to progress across the board, which is why he’s intriguing for a team in need of a long-term developmental option.
Projected draft range: Early 4th - early 6th
Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond
Of all the quarterbacks stationed outside of the top tier quarterback group, Mond is the probably the closest to that group. Mond has four years of starting experience under his belt, and for his career, composed 9,661 passing yards and 71 passing touchdowns alongside 22 rushing touchdowns.
It took Mond pretty much his entire collegiate career to improve significantly in his decision making as a passer. Earlier in his career, Mond was consistent in making unnecessary throws for the sake of trying to do way too much on one play. He also loved to escape the pocket and tuck the ball to run before he allowed his progressions to manifest.
Today, Mond is very intriguing because he has a very strong arm, but is an inaccurate deep passer. Mond deserves credit for showing progression as a passer, though, and there are going to be teams that are intrigued enough to take a shot on day two.
Projected draft range: late 2nd - late 3rd
Florida QB Kyle Trask
Trask started off the 2020 season with reasonable draft stock as a quarterback that could possibly sneak into the late first round. As the season progressed, more and more of his flaws started to appear.
By the time the regular season concluded, many draft analysts were pointing out his negatives instead of singing his praises. That’s not to diminish his strengths. His frame allows him to stand tall in the pocket and display proper field vision. The one thing about the throws that Trask makes is that they are applied with a lot of touch and you rarely see wobbly or errant passes. His accuracy is exceptional, as Trask is a career 67.9% passer and this past season, he posted 43 touchdowns with just eight interceptions.
On the other hand, Trask has mechanical issues (elongated release, below average footwork) that are enough to scare many teams off. Trask may never be a quarterback who is able to stretch defenses with his deep passing, and that aspect alone hinders what he can do as a passer.
Projected draft range: early 3rd - mid 4th
Who would you choose from this list?