As the NFL season approaches, when will each rookie quarterback selected in the first round of the 2021 draft start for their teams?
Rookie quarterbacks will be the talk of the NFL as training camp is about to get underway for teams. Some squads have already begun the festivities, as they’ve had their rookies in camp this past week. Five quarterbacks were selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft, and each of them enters camp with very different storylines.
The biggest question surrounding rookie quarterbacks is when teams should start them? Unfortunately, there’s never a concrete answer because each case of first-year quarterbacks is different. Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones have the potential to start, but when (or will) they start in their debut seasons?
When will rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence start in 2021?
There’s no thinking about when this rookie quarterback will play — Trevor Lawrence will start in Week 1 for the Jacksonville Jaguars, barring any unforeseen circumstance. The team has essentially given him control of the franchise, hoping he can bring them some success. He was one of the highest-graded quarterbacks since Andrew Luck and has all the measurables and intangibles a coach (particularly Urban Meyer) could want in a quarterback.
Many quarterbacks selected No. 1 have gotten the start in Week 1 of their debut season, and Lawrence is no different. With no QB competition brewing in Jacksonville, the first-year quarterback doesn’t have to worry about losing his starting spot. He’s the franchise’s key to success, which means they won’t waste time getting him under center.
When will rookie quarterback Zach Wilson start in 2021?
After the Jets traded away Sam Darnold, it was destined for Zach Wilson to be the Week 1 starter for the New York Jets. The team drafted him in April, and he’s on track to be the starter for the Jets when the season starts. He’s shown New York great things during minicamp and OTA’s, especially his mobility. His ability to throw on the run accurately has been the talk of Wilson’s offseason, which is a positive sign for New York.
The Jets are hoping that Wilson can finally be their long-term answer. The recent quarterback carousel for Gang Green has some fans missing the Chad Pennington days. At least they knew what they were getting every week with him as the signal-caller. With Wilson slated as the Week 1 starter, the Jets hope he is leaps and bounds above Pennington’s best seasons in New York.
When will rookie quarterback Trey Lance start in 2021?
Ok, now this is where things start to get fun. The San Francisco 49ers drafted Trey Lance with the third-overall pick in last year’s draft, but they still have Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster. Not to mention they are paying the seven-year signal-caller a hefty chunk of change. So is Jimmy G the guy, or will the Niners begin the Lance era in the Bay?
To start the season, Garoppolo should be the guy under center, but that doesn’t mean Lance won’t play at all. The veteran quarterback has been injury-prone in the past and missed the majority of last season with an ankle injury. So if Jimmy G goes down, Lance could be called on to start the following week.
Week 8 could be the best time Lance gets his start. Whether it be because of an injury or bad play on Garoppolo has yet to be seen. Nevertheless, their Week 7 matchup against the Chicago Bears could feature two rookie quarterbacks going head-to-head, and Lance would be one of them.
When will rookie quarterback Justin Fields start in 2021?
The Chicago Bears quarterback situation is an interesting one. They signed Andy Dalton to a one-year deal in the offseason, then traded up in the draft to select Justin Fields No. 11 overall. They could start in Fields Week 1 and go to the veteran in Dalton if the rookie struggles. Or they could start the veteran and groom the rookie until he’s ready. The latter seems like the better option, and that’s exactly what Chicago is doing.
Head coach Matt Nagy has already named Dalton the team’s starter for Week 1. The coach guaranteed the job to the veteran signal-caller before he signed with them. That’s fine, but the calls for Fields will grow louder each time he struggles. He very well could start immediately, as the Bears face some tough defenses to start the year. They face the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, who were the top-ranked defense in the NFL last year.
If things get ugly for Dalton, expect Nagy to use Field’s starting as his final lifeline. Unfortunately, he’ll have to use it in Week 7, giving Fields the start after some mediocre performances by Dalton.
When will rookie quarterback Mac Jones start in 2021?
The New England Patriots have a similar situation at QB as the Bears. They decided to bring back Cam Newton despite his abysmal year, and they drafted Mac Jones at No. 15 overall. However, it seemed that head coach Bill Belichick liked Cam last season, which played a part in the team bringing him back. That underlying chemistry will work in Newton’s favor.
It’s unlikely Jones starts in Week 1 simply because of the team he is on. The Patriots value players “doing their job,” and the quarterback has arguably the most important job out of any position. The thought of Belichick handing over his offense to a rookie to start the years seems absurd — in fact, it is. Mac Jones might not get the Week 1 start, but he could steal the starting job from Newton.
Newton was benched multiple times last season for poor play, and that could happen again this season. This time around, however, it could be harder for him to get his job back. If Jones impresses in what might be garbage time, Belichick might want to test the rookie the following week as the starter. Of course, Newton would have to play pretty bad, and Jones would have to play pretty damn well, but it’s possible.
The safe bet is Mac Jones doesn’t start at all this season but could get some garbage minutes. But being a risk-taker, it is possible to see Jones under center in Week 15 after their bye. If Newton stinks up the places, Belichick could see what talent Jones has to offer and look forward to their future together.