With training camps starting to approach, NFL teams should have an idea of what their team will look like with potential starters. For the teams that drafted a quarterback in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, they have two options. The first is to must decide whether to slowly develop their play-caller, or the second, which is to throw him onto the gridiron right away. The first three picks in the 2021 NFL Draft were at the quarterback position. These are three teams that desperately needed to upgrade at the quarterback position. The two other teams had a veteran quarterback on the roster they could start in week one. They will, however, expect their rookie quarterbacks to start at the beginning of training camp or by week one of the 2021 NFL season. Here is the timeline of all first-round rookie quarterbacks of when they start for their teams.
Timeline For 2021 NFL Rookie Quarterbacks to Start
Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars) – Immediately
It seemed like destiny that Lawrence would be the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The NFL has Lawrence as the best of all rookie quarterbacks this season. Now Lawrence finds him replacing Gardner Minshew II, the starting quarterback that Jacksonville loved. While Minshew was good, Lawrence is the best available option for the Jaguars to turn their franchise around for several seasons. Last season, the Jaguars were ranked 30th in points per game (19.1) and 28th in total yards per game (326.1). While the Jaguars have several problems on offense, Lawrence is the obvious choice to lead the Jaguars’ offense towards relevancy. Lawrence is already establishing himself well as the starting quarterback of the Jaguars, and this is well before training camp.
Zach Wilson (New York Jets) – Immediately
The New York Jets press the reset button on the quarterback position rather than load up on multiple pieces. Now it is time to see if the gamble for BYU quarterback Zach Wilson was the right move for the team. There was no potential option at the quarterback position other than Wilson as they want to establish him as the face of the franchise. Last season, the Jets had the worst scoring offense (15.2 points per game) and total offense (279.3 total yards per game). The Jets need as much as high-caliber talent as possible for the upcoming 2021 season. Like the Jaguars, the Jets made the quick decision to have their newly acquired quarterback the starter.
Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers) – Week One
The third pick was where the 2021 NFL Draft started as the 49ers picked a pro-ready quarterback in Lance. San Francisco has low patience on the health and durability of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. While he is set to return, the 49ers are looking to move on as a franchise. It wouldn’t be the worst situation for Lance to sit while learning the offense, but the 49ers want Lance to get the experience quickly. Head coach Kyle Shanahan will be expecting a quarterback competition between Lance and Garoppolo. Lance will likely come out on top during the training camp practices, which will ultimately have him starting in week one. With Lance inserted as the starting quarterback, Garoppolo will be a significant trade target for a quarterback-needy team by NFL Trade Deadline.
Justin Fields (Chicago Bears) – Week One
The Chicago Bears made the best and most surprising trade in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Bears could not afford to lose their 2021 season before it starts. Adding a high-profile quarterback like Fields gives the Bears the capabilities of a more dynamic offense. The Bears failed to utilize the potential that Mitchell Trubisky possessed. They also failed to trade for a Pro Bowl quarterback. They are determined to make this selection work. Last season, the Bears were ranked 26th in total yards per game (331.4). Their new quarterback Andy Dalton will not help the Bears offense. Head coach Matt Nagy guaranteed that Dalton would be the starting quarterback in week one. No one in the league is fooled as Fields is already displaying his case as the number one quarterback. Not preparing Fields as the week one starter could be enough to end Nagy as the head coach.
Mac Jones (New England Patriots) – Week Five to Ten
Patriot fans have been looking for the heir to Tom Brady as the starting quarterback before he left the team. Cam Newton may not be the best option long-term this upcoming season, but he is a great guru for Jones. Newton had a tough time last season with no offseason to learn the offense as well as missing time with COVID-19. The lack of consistent and healthy receivers did not help the former Pro Bowl quarterback. Jones has already progressed well with this Patriots offense in practice. With a more revitalized Newton, both physically and mentally, the Patriots may not need Jones to step in immediately. New England wants Jones to step up at some point early during this 2021 NFL season in fill-in games.
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