Which of the five NFL rookie quarterbacks not selected in the first round could end up starting in 2021?
Much of the quarterback discussion about the 2021 NFL draft surrounded the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones. Nevertheless, there were ten total quarterbacks selected through the entirety of the draft, and far less has been written about the latter five prospects.
Although it is rare, excellent quarterbacks can be selected in any rounds. Most notably there was Tom Brady who was selected in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft, and Russell Wilson, who was selected in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL draft. Even if there is no elite talent after the first round, most years there seems to be that quarterback who is not drafted in the first round who cements himself as a team’s starter. Most recently, there was Jalen Hurts for the Eagles in the 2020 draft, and Drew Lock for the Denver Broncos who was selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft.
Can any of the 5 quarterbacks selected after the first round of the 2021 draft solidify themselves as starters for their respective teams?
Kyle Trask, Buccaneers
The first quarterback selected outside the first round was Kyle Trask from Florida. He was selected in the very last pick of the second round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The reigning Super Bowl champions obviously have their 2021 starting quarterback sorted, but Tom Brady will be 44 years old at the beginning of next season. In the offseason, Brady signed a contract extension that will keep him on the team through the 2022 season. Though Brady can never be counted out for anything, it is hard to imagine anyone playing at the age of 46, Brady’s age at the beginning of the 2023 season. Could Trask sit behind Brady for the next two years then take over as Tampa’s heir apparent?
In my opinion, that is unlikely. There is a lot to like about Trask. He was a 2020 Heisman finalist who threw for 43 touchdowns and 8 interceptions with 4283 yards, according to Sports Reference. Unfortunately for Trask, he has severe arm strength and athletic limitations that will curb his ability to work off structure, basically a requirement in today’s NFL. Additionally, Trask’s ball placement suffers when asked to throw intermediate- to deep passes. As a result, I think Trask will be relegated to a backup in the NFL, with a ceiling as a spot-starter. Trask does have the potential to be a long-term backup. He is a cerebral quarterback who diagnoses pre-snap reads as well as anyone in the 2021 class and can hit his spots on quick passes.
Having barely any needs on the roster, I think Tampa Bay wanted to fill the backup quarterback slot with an upgrade over Blaine Gabbert. If Brady goes down for a couple of games within the next two seasons, Trask could fill in and provide them with acceptable play in the short-term that will not ruin the Buccaneers’ hopes for a Super Bowl defense, but Brady’s long-term successor is not currently on the team.