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NFL execs rank Trey Lance as the 5th-best 2nd-year QB heading into 2022

5 feels low....

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler polled NFL executives around the league to see where each second-year quarterback stands. As you’d imagine, Trevor Lawrence remained ranked number one. Most execs gave him a pass for the Urban Meyer disaster in Jacksonville last year.

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones ranked second. One offensive coach said they’d put Jones No.1 “by a lot,” which tells you how much bias goes into these rankings. Is Mac Jones smart, cerebral, and accurate? Yes. To me, what we saw from Jones in Year 1 is who he’ll be for the rest of his career. There isn’t much room for growth, and unless you plan on surrounding Jones with elite playmakers, that offense will be middling, at best.

The list goes off the rails at No. 3, where Jets QB Zach Wilson ranked. Hilariously, the article references how Wilson improved during his final seven starts, where his quarterback rating jumped from 24.8 to 31.0. One NFC exec went as far as to say the Jets could be a playoff team if Wilson protects the ball.

Statistically, Wilson was one of the worst quarterbacks in recent memory:

Link

As you might imagine, the goal is to be closer to Aaron Rodgers and not Sam Darnold. Most rookies struggle, and that’s confirmed by Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Davis Mills. But Wilson went to new lows, and his play was independent of his supporting cast.

Bears QB Justin Fields came in at fourth, were an AFC scout aptly said, “God bless him and good luck.” But, unfortunately, the Bears laid out a blueprint for how not to help your quarterback this offseason. Fields had plenty of splash plays as a rookie but turned the ball over down the stretch.

That brings us to No. 5, the boy wonder, Trey Lance. I wouldn’t fault anybody for ranking Lance fifth, given he only started two games. Here are some quotes from the article about Lance:

“He’s in the best spot by far, but I don’t know if he’s ready,” an AFC scout said. “Coaching and system will help him tremendously.”

Lance’s skill set will be “impressive to watch” in 2022, an NFC scout said. “The throws he makes in flashes are insane,” the scout said. “The athleticism and toughness to go along with it are real. He’s had time to get his feet wet while observing. I think that always ends up well for the ones with high ceilings like him.”

“He will be fine. Talented. Will make plays with his legs,” an NFC exec said. “Best playcaller in the game will put him in a position to succeed.”

Then there’s this from an NFC offensive coach: “I think they were 100 percent taking Mac [Jones] until they saw their fan base [overreact].”

If Kyle Shanahan wanted to take Mac Jones, he would have taken Mac Jones. To think an NFL head coach who calls the shots for his organization got cold feet about a draft pick because of the perceived backlash is comical.

A couple of quotes imply Shanahan will protect Lance and almost come off as it should be Kyle as the one getting the credit. This is the first time since the Falcons that Shanahan has had a first-round talent at quarterback.

There’s a lot of unknown and projection when talking about Lance. So, naturally, the arguments about him end up on both sides of the spectrum. However, based on the descriptions of Lance’s situation and play-caller, it’s easy to imagine him finishing as one of the top second-year quarterbacks for this upcoming season.

Davis Mills ranked sixth, which is about three spots too low. I’d put him ahead of Wilson.