The 2021 preseason is now in the books. Sunday marked the end of the exhibition season in the NFL and now it’s full steam ahead towards the regular season. Over these last few weeks, we were able to see a number of young quarterbacks take the field and begin carving out their path in the NFL. For some of the quarterbacks taken in the first round of this most recent draft, the final week of the preseason was their last shot at convincing the coaching staff that they deserve to be the Week 1 starter. Others, meanwhile, are simply polishing up their game before the snaps start to count for real in a few weeks.
Below, we’ll dive into all four first-round rookie quarterbacks that played this weekend and rank their performances as they put their first preseason in the rearview mirror.
Week 3 stats: 6-for-13, 46 yards passing, eight yards rushing, rushing touchdown, 55.3 rating
Kyle Shanahan was getting creative in Sunday’s preseason finale against the Raiders. While Jimmy Garoppolo got the start under center, it didn’t take long for Lance to find himself in the game. On the first two drives of the game, San Francisco deployed a platoon quarterback attack that featured Lance and Garoppolo. The rookie came in after Garoppolo was under center for the team’s first three plays of the afternoon. Upon entering the game, Lance handed the ball off to Raheem Mostert for a 17-yard gain on a zone read. In all, each quarterback took part in five plays on that drive, which culminated in a Garoppolo 1-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing offensive possession, the platoon attack continued with Lance eventually finding the end zone with his legs on a two-yard score.
This will certainly be a fascinating storyline to watch develop into the regular season as both Lance and Garoppolo were able to run this platoon QB offense quite well, albeit against Las Vegas’ backups. At the very least, this wrinkle will give opposing defenses a lot to prepare for this season.
As for Lance’s play, while his numbers don’t jump off the page, it was clear early that the threat of his mobility will open up running lanes for 49ers backs, which will likely be on full display whenever he sees playing time this year.
Week 3 stats: 10-for-14, 156 yards passing, touchdown, 131.8 rating
It was a little bit of a choppy start for Jones against the Giants, but the Patriots’ first-rounder continued to be an efficient passer as he tries to leap over Cam Newton on the depth chart. There were times where he held the ball a bit too long and helped lead to him being sacked four times on the night, but Jones is certainly showing that he can push Newton for the starting job sooner rather than later. He threw his first touchdown of the preseason when he connected with Isaiah Zuber for a 17-yard strike coming out of the locker room after halftime. That said, his most impressive throw of the night came on this connection to tight end Devin Asiasi where Jones was able to lead him into an open window away from his defender.
Bill Belichick did not announce New England’s Week 1 starter following the game, but all signs do suggest that Newton will get the nod out of the gate. However, it likely won’t be long before we see Jones taking the field for the Patriots, especially if he continues to make plays like this in practice.
Week 3 stats: 7-for-10, 54 yards passing, touchdown, 13 yards rushing, 116.3 rating
The Bears have held firm that Andy Dalton will be the team’s Week 1 starter, but Justin Fields’ play this summer is certainly pushing hard against that plan. Against the Titans on Saturday, Fields continued to make plays with both his arm and legs. His latest jaw-dropping highlight was his 20-yard touchdown throw to Jesper Horsted where Fields was able to avoid pressure, roll out right and complete a sideline throw while on the run. The ability to place the ball where he did was otherworldly.
Fields finished his preseason completing 30 of his 49 passes for 276 yards passing, 92 rushing yards, and three total touchdowns. It’s only a matter of time before he takes over for Andy Dalton.
Week 3 stats: 11-for-12, 139 yards passing, two touchdowns, 154.5 rating
Hello, Mr. Lawrence. In the aftermath of the Jaguars trading Gardner Minshew to the Eagles, this year’s No. 1 overall pick turned in his best performance of the summer. Lawrence was surgical against the Cowboys and made a number of throws that show how special of a talent he truly is. On Jacksonville’s opening drive, Lawrence dropped a perfectly placed ball into the arms of Phillip Dorsett 38-yards down the field.
Lawrence continued to pick apart the Dallas secondary with a number of pinpoint sideline throws, including a pair of touchdowns throws to Pharoh Cooper and Laviska Shenault. The young quarterback looks as-advertised and could be on the verge of a special rookie campaign for the Jags.