2021 NFL Draft QB Superlatives: Strongest arm, best decision-maker, best vs. the blitz and more

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws during Alabama's game with Texas A&M Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Bryant-Denny Stadium. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.] Alabama Vs Texas A M

The 2021 quarterback class is hands down the single best PFF has ever scouted in its seven years of grading college football. That means these superlatives are quite literally the best of the best.

The sheer talent in this class made these superlatives quite easily the most hotly contested of any positional group in the draft.

View PFF's 2021 NFL Draft position rankings:

QB | RB | WR | TE | T | iOL | DI | EDGE | LB | CB | S

Strongest Arm: Trey Lance

Not only does Lance have easy juice on the ball already, but there’s also reason to think he could get even stronger because he is the youngest quarterback in the draft. Even in only one season of play, Lance still has throws all over his tape that make you say “wow” with the velocity he puts on them.

That’s arm talent.

Most Accurate: Justin Fields

We’ll let PFF’s ball-placement charting do the deciding here. Justin Fields is tops in the class on all passes thrown five-plus yards downfield over the past two seasons with a 61.6% on-target rate, narrowly edging out Alabama's Mac Jones. That’s not quite at the 66.1% we saw from Joe Burrow last year, but it far outpaces most of the other top quarterbacks in the class. No one besides Jones (61.5%) in the class is within five percentage points.

Best Deep Ball: Trevor Lawrence

Lawrence still racked up deep shots despite never having a true sub-4.5-40-yard-dash type of wide receiver on the outside. His 77 career deep completions are 12 more than the next closest quarterback ranked in the top-10 of the 2021 draft class (BYU's Zach Wilson).

Best Timing: Mac Jones

This is Jones’ calling card, as he thrives within the tempo of the offense. No one came close to Jones statistically on “in-rhythm throws.” His 97.6 passing grade, 13.4 yards per attempt and 152.5 passer rating on these plays led college football. Jones got the ball where it needed to go consistently for the Crimson Tide.

Best Runner: Trey Lance

While there is no shortage of athletes at the position in this class, Lance not only has the physical tools, but he also has the on-field proof. He racked up 823 yards on 101 designed runs in 2019 and 327 yards on 33 scrambles, as well. Over his career, he averaged over 9.0 yards per attempt, and 18 of his 154 rushes ended up with a score.

Best Outside the Pocket: Zach Wilson

This is Wilson’s special trait that has him penciled in behind Trevor Lawrence on the PFF draft board. The man doesn’t have to have his feet set in the pocket to drop dimes. His 86.4 passing grade outside the pocket in 2020 was the highest of any quarterback in the class. He averaged 9.3 yards per attempt, completed 65.5% of his passes and recorded a passer rating of 127.2 on throws outside the pocket. That’s doing work.

Best Ball Security: Trey Lance

This one was hotly contested, as truly none of the top quarterback prospects have had near the turnover issues we’ve seen from first-rounders such as Jordan Love, Sam Darnold or even Deshaun Watson in recent seasons. However, it’s hard to go against Lance as he only threw one pick and had six turnover-worthy plays in his entire college career. To start as a redshirt freshman and protect the ball that well — even if it is against FCS competition — makes him easily deserving of this superlative.

Best Pocket Presence: Trevor Lawrence

While Lawrence has had several highly touted receivers over his time at Clemson, the same can’t be said for his offensive line. Guard John Simpson (fourth round, 2020), right tackle Tremayne Anchrum (seventh round, 2020) and left tackle Jack Carman (likey Day 2, 2021) are the only Clemson offensive linemen who have been drafted, or will be drafted, in Lawrence’s tenure. Still, he’s averaged fewer than 16 sacks a season and has been excellent at avoiding those plays altogether. It’s arguably the biggest reason why most feel so confident about him as a prospect.

Best vs. Blitz: Mac Jones

Not that there was really any other way to slow down Alabama’s offense in 2020, but blitzing certainly didn’t work. Jones led college football in every single statistical category when blitzed last season: yards (1,365), touchdowns (18), yards per attempt (11.4) and completion percentage (77.5%). Maybe most impressively, Jones was only sacked three times on 124 blitzed dropbacks.

Worst Supporting Cast: Kellen Mond

While he had a solid offensive line by his senior season, Mond worked with who’s who of big, slow receivers who couldn’t separate worth a lick in his Texas A&M career. None of the wide receivers he’s thrown to over the past three years have been drafted. If Jhamon Ausbon changes that this year, it will be late on Day 3 (true sophomore Ainias Smith will change that whenever he declares in the future).

Working with that against SEC corners is no easy task and must be factored into Mond’s evaluation.

Quickest Decision Maker: Davis Mills

Mills gets the ball out of his hands at the kind of pace NFL evaluators are sure to love. In fact, his 2.39-second average time to throw in 2020 on plays that weren’t screens, RPOs or play action was the fastest in the draft class. That’s a tenth of a second faster than the next closest quarterback (Trevor Lawrence, 2.49 seconds) and over two-tenths quicker than Mac Jones.

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