Bill Belichick has done a lot of things in his storied career as a coach, but it took him until his 22nd offseason with the New England Patriots to finally select a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft. That quarterback was Alabama’s Mac Jones, who was picked 15th overall and went on to beat out incumbent Cam Newton over the course of training camp.
Now ten games into his professional career and tenure as the Patriots’ starter, let’s take a look at how he compares to the four men he will forever be linked to: the other quarterbacks selected in the first round this year.
First, a look at how Jones performed in Week 10 relative to Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars), Zach Wilson (New York Jets), Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers) and Justin Fields (Chicago Bears). Then, a season-long look at the five youngsters.
First-round rookie quarterbacks in Week 10
In Week 10, the five passers selected in the first round this year performed as follows:
Only two of the five first-round quarterbacks actually saw the field in Week 10: Zach Wilson was out yet again because of injury; Trey Lance was active but did not receive any snaps; Justin Fields’ Bears were on their bye week. Mac Jones and Trevor Lawrence were therefore the only first-round rookie QBs to play in Week 10, with only Jones celebrating a win.
Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars (Pick No. 1): Trevor Lawrence continues to be a mixed bag for the Jaguars. Against the Indianapolis Colts, he again played some poor football: he averaged only 4.6 yards per attempt — his third straight game below 5.0 yards per throw — while failing to complete even half of his passes. He furthermore lost a crucial fumble late in the fourth quarter that ended a potential game-winning drive. Jacksonville went on to lose the contest against its division rivals 23-17.
Mac Jones, Patriots (Pick No. 15): Facing a playoff-caliber Cleveland Browns team in Week 10, Jones played arguably the best game of his young career. His numbers were impressive, and he repeatedly made NFL-caliber throws and decisions. The New England offense operated smoothly with him under center and eventually celebrated five touchdowns and a field goal in seven possessions with the youngster under center. The Patriots ended up winning 45-7.
The comparison between Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones in Week 10 is really no contest. Jones was the better of the two, and actually one of the best quarterbacks throughout the league.
First-round rookie quarterbacks all season long
Ten weeks into the season, here is how the five QBs drafted on Day 1 this year have performed:
All five first-round quarterback have seen significant action so far this season; each one of them has started at least one game for his respective team over the first ten weeks. Lawrence, Wilson and Jones all served as Day 1 starters, with Fields officially taking the Bears’ job in Week 5. Only Lance is still playing second fiddle at the moment.
Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars (Pick No. 1): Ranking second behind only Mac Jones in most volume statistics, Lawrence has received plenty of action through his first seven games as Jacksonville’s QB1. He has not always been up to the challenge but appears to have settled down a bit after a rather disappointing start to his professional career.
Zach Wilson, Jets (Pick No. 2): The Jets’ franchise quarterback is off to a rough start, not just because he currently remains sidelined due to a PCL injury suffered in Week 7 against the Patriots. Throwing at least one interception in all but one of his games this season, Wilson has actively contributed to the team starting the season 1-5 with him at the helm. He has had his moments, but they were few and far between.
Trey Lance, 49ers (Pick No. 3): The number two behind ex-Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo, Lance did start the 49ers’ Week 5 game, but it was a struggle. That said, the sample size — 65 snaps that day, 111 overall — is far too small to make any definitive statements about his outlook for the rest of the season yet. That said, with Garoppolo having played some solid football for the 4-5 team recently, it appears unlikely that Lance will see the field anytime soon.
Justin Fields, Bears (Pick No. 11): Originally the number two quarterback in Chicago, Fields has seized the opportunity that presented itself when starter Andy Dalton went down with a knee injury. Since then, he has started six games that can be described as a mixed bag: the Ohio State product looked overmatched at times, but did showcase his high ceiling as a dual-threat QB on occasion.
Mac Jones, Patriots (Pick No. 15): Jones has started all ten of the Patriots’ games since beating out Cam Newton and has played the majority of his team’s offensive snaps so far. He showed the ups and downs that had to be expected from a rookie in New England’s notoriously challenging system early on, but has played some impressive football as of late and certainly appears to be heading in the right direction. He also is the current leader among the first-round rookie QBs in most statistical categories.
Ten weeks in, our analysis continues to read the same it has the last few weeks: Mac Jones has hands down been the best of the five first-round rookie quarterbacks this year. New England is now at 6-4 and firmly in the playoff race, with its young QB playing some encouraging football as of late and continuing to show the growth that one would like to see from a rookie. Jones continues to look like a potential franchise quarterback.