clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Comparing Mac Jones to the other first-round rookie quarterbacks after Week 15

Related: Mac Jones on Patriots’ preparation for the Colts: ‘It just wasn’t our best effort’

New England Patriots v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Bill Belichick has done a lot of things in his storied career as a coach, but it took him until his 22nd offseason with the New England Patriots to finally select a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft. That quarterback was Alabama’s Mac Jones, who was picked 15th overall and went on to beat out incumbent Cam Newton over the course of training camp.

Now 14 games into his professional career and tenure as the Patriots’ starter, let’s take a look at how he compares to the four men he will forever be linked to: the other quarterbacks selected in the first round this year.

First, a look at how Jones performed in Week 15 relative to Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars), Zach Wilson (New York Jets), Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers) and Justin Fields (Chicago Bears). Then, a season-long look at the five youngsters.

First-round rookie quarterbacks in Week 15

The five passers selected in the first round this year performed as follows in Week 15:

First-round rookie QBs: Week 15

Player Snaps Attempts Completions Completion rate Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Drops Throwaways Pressure rate Carries Rushing yards Rushing touchdowns Rating EPA/Play
Player Snaps Attempts Completions Completion rate Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Drops Throwaways Pressure rate Carries Rushing yards Rushing touchdowns Rating EPA/Play
Justin Fields 73 39 26 66.7% 285 1 0 5 2 40.4% 7 35 0 96.6 -0.070
Trevor Lawrence 70 38 22 57.9% 210 0 0 6 3 28.6% 5 21 0 73.4 -0.138
Mac Jones 68 45 26 57.8% 299 2 2 1 3 31.9% 1 12 0 74.2 -0.010
Zach Wilson 57 23 13 56.5% 170 0 0 0 2 46.9% 4 12 1 80.0 -0.280
Trey Lance -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

With the exception of Trey Lance, who once again served as an emergency option for the 49ers, all of the first-round rookie quarterbacks saw the field in Week 15. None of them was able to lead his respective team to victory, though.

Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars (Pick No. 1): Lawrence’s first game after the firing of head coach Urban Meyer was another disappointment. The Jaguars were beaten 30-16 at home by the Houston Texans, with the first overall selection continuing to struggle. The fact that six of his throws were dropped obviously did not help, but Lawrence did little to lift the team and as a result suffered his 12th loss since joining the league earlier this year.

Zach Wilson, Jets (Pick No. 2): Wilson did rebound after a catastrophic Week 14 performance and actually played some solid football early on against the Miami Dolphins. The second half of the game was a different story, though. While he was not terrible he also had a lot more issues with his pocket movement and decision making, while also turning the ball over on a lost fumble. With Wilson again failing to play a consistent 60 minutes of football New York ended up losing 31-24.

Justin Fields, Bears (Pick No. 11): The Bears’ first-round pick had an OK game against the Minnesota Vikings, posting the third highest completion rate since taking over as a starter and despite five of his passes getting dropped. However, he continued to have some ball security issues: Fields fumbled twice, with one of the loose balls getting recovered by the Vikings. It was his fifth lost fumble of the season and third in as many games. Ultimately, the youngster failed to do enough to help the Bears from losing 17-9 and getting eliminated form playoff contention.

Mac Jones, Patriots (Pick No. 15): Jones had a rough first three quarters against the Indianapolis Colts, throwing two interceptions within three pass attempts. The first ended a promising red zone opportunity just before the half, the second led to a Colts field goal. Down 20-0 entering the fourth quarter, however, New England’s QB1 flipped the switch and led his troops on three straight scoring drives — including two capped off by touchdown passes to Hunter Henry — to come within three points. In the end, though, the Patriots lost 27-17 to drop to 9-5 on the season.

All four of the first-round rookie quarterbacks had some good and some bad in Week 15. An argument can be made, though, that Jones and Fields were the best of the bunch — or the least bad.

First-round rookie quarterbacks all season long

15 weeks into the season, here is how the five QBs drafted on Day 1 this year have performed:

First-round rookie QBs: Weeks 1-15

Player Snaps Attempts Completions Completion rate Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Drops Throwaways Pressure rate Carries Rushing yards Rushing touchdowns Rating EPA/Play
Player Snaps Attempts Completions Completion rate Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Drops Throwaways Pressure rate Carries Rushing yards Rushing touchdowns Rating EPA/Play
Trevor Lawrence 890 504 293 58.1% 2,945 9 14 30 27 34.4% 52 268 2 69.3 -0.072
Mac Jones 880 429 296 69.0% 3,168 18 10 10 16 38.4% 25 98 0 94.6 0.116
Justin Fields 635 270 159 58.9% 1,870 7 10 13 7 42.8% 67 426 2 73.2 -0.126
Zach Wilson 576 308 173 56.2% 1,911 6 11 23 14 28.8% 17 74 3 66.4 -0.179
Trey Lance 116 48 25 52.1% 354 3 1 4 2 35.0% 28 140 1 88.4 -0.012

The five first-round quarterback have seen different levels of action so far this season. While each one of them has started at least one game for his respective team over the first 15 weeks, only two have appeared in every game so far.

Lawrence, Wilson and Jones all served as Day 1 starters, with Fields officially taking the Bears’ job in Week 5. Only Lance is still playing second fiddle at the moment, and it seems unlikely his status will change anytime soon.

Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars (Pick No. 1): Ranking either first or second in most volume statistics, Lawrence has received plenty of action through his first 15 games as Jacksonville’s QB1. However, it is obvious that he is in a difficult situation given the Jaguars’ lack of talent and off-field issues. This has impacted his performance as well: despite having some impressive moments, the Clemson product continues to struggle with consistency and is tied for the league-lead in interceptions.

Zach Wilson, Jets (Pick No. 2): The Jets’ franchise quarterback has had a rough rookie season so far. Not only did he miss four games due to a PCL injury suffered in Week 7 against the Patriots, he also has looked out of his element repeatedly; missing even basic throws and failing to showcase the out-of-structure abilities that made him a star at BYU. Wilson is playing alongside an inconsistent supporting cast, but that excuse can only go so far. The bottom line is this: he has a long way to go.

Trey Lance, 49ers (Pick No. 3): The number two behind ex-Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo, Lance did start the 49ers’ Week 5 loss in Arizona, but it was a struggle. That said, the sample size — 65 snaps that day, 116 overall — is far too small to make any definitive statements about his outlook for the rest of the season yet. With Garoppolo playing some solid football and leading the team to an 8-6 record, however, it appears unlikely that Lance will take over the starting job anytime soon. The youngster appears to be on the redshirt plan.

Justin Fields, Bears (Pick No. 11): Originally the number two quarterback in Chicago, Fields has seized the opportunity that presented itself when starter Andy Dalton went down with a knee injury. Since then, he has started eight games and has also missed some time due to a rib injury. His performance on the field can best be described as a mixed bag: the Ohio State product looked overmatched at times and continues to struggle with turnovers, but he also showcases his high ceiling as a dual-threat QB on a regular basis.

Mac Jones, Patriots (Pick No. 15): Jones has started all 14 of the Patriots’ games this season and he is undisputed as New England’s QB1. The Alabama product showed the ups and downs that had to be expected from a rookie in New England’s notoriously challenging system early on, but has played some impressive football as of late — even though his first three quarters in Indianapolis were a struggle. Still, he appears to be headed in the right direction and well on his way to be the team’s long-term solution at the most important position on the field.

Despite some inconsistency in Week 15, Mac Jones continues to be hands down the best of the five first-round rookie quarterbacks this year. New England owns a 9-5 record and the number two playoff seed in the AFC, with the young QB being a big reason for that. He has been playing some encouraging football for much of the year and continues to show the growth that one would like to see from a rookie, especially at the quarterback position.

Through some occasional hiccups Jones continues to look like a potential franchise quarterback and the front-runner to earn Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.