This is the first in a series of position previews for the 2021 NFL draft, which runs April 29-May 1. We start with a highly-anticipated quarterback class.
THREE NAMES TO KNOW
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson: The golden child since he was a No. 1 high school recruit in 2018, Lawrence is considered one of the most complete quarterback prospects in some time. He was a dominant three-year starter with 90 touchdowns to 17 interceptions, doing so with impeccable timing, pocket presence and arm strength. Lawrence (6-6, 213 pounds), expected to go No. 1 overall to the Jaguars, doesn't have any glaring holes in his game. Not to slander Mark Brunell, but Lawrence could quickly become the best quarterback in Jacksonville's history.
Zach Wilson, BYU: Wilson wowed onlookers with his 2020 ascent, throwing 32 touchdowns to three interceptions for the Cougars. He's now widely expected to be the second quarterback drafted behind Lawrence, thanks in part to a talented arm that is pinpoint accurate while on the run. Wilson (6-2, 214 pounds) also showcased his mobility and intuition to evade pressure, which are skills increasingly needed against NFL pass rushers. But Wilson also had one of college football's best offensive lines at BYU. Buying time will be harder if he lands with the Jets.
Trey Lance, NDSU: He may not get drafted first, second or even third, possibly behind Ohio State's Justin Fields or Alabama's Mac Jones, among quarterbacks, but Lance has a rare skill set expected to make him the second North Dakota St. passer taken with a first-round pick in six years. The Marshall, Minn. native is a physical marvel with a cannon arm and a 6-foot-4, 224-pound build fit for tight end. He'll both evade and run over defenders. If he can overcome accuracy issues and land in the right system, analysts have compared Lance's ceiling to Buffalo's Josh Allen.
Jamie Newman, Georgia: Newman opted out for the 2020 season after transferring from Wake Forest to Georgia, where the versatile quarterback could've answered a lot of questions about his game. But he's an intriguing projection for NFL teams considering his raw talents: size (6-4, 230 pounds), athleticism and arm talent. He was solid throwing deep for Wake Forest, showing an accuracy that could translate well to the pros.
Last year, Nate Stanley became the first Vikings quarterback drafted outside the first round since John David Booty in 2008. But he was a seventh-round pick (and 13th selection out of Rick Spielman's 15 picks last year), which maintained how Spielman typically doesn't allocate draft resources to backup quarterback. Kirk Cousins is under contract through 2022, and currently has no NFL regular season passing attempts behind him with Stanley and Jake Browning filling out the depth chart. Sean Mannion remains a free agent, and the Vikings have expressed interest in re-signing the previous No. 2. But it hasn't happened yet, leaving the door open for a new backup.
VIKINGS' LEVEL OF NEED
Moderately low: Given the Vikings' heavy investment in Cousins, whose $35 million base salary in 2022 became fully guaranteed in March, and the two young project passers already on the roster, it doesn't appear that Spielman will alter the approach at quarterback. Perhaps another late-round or undrafted passer could be added for camp depth.