clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Comparing Mac Jones to the other first-round rookie quarterbacks after Week 13

Related: Mac Jones on Patriots’ win over Bills: ‘It was a game I will remember forever’

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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 13 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 13 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 13

The five passers selected in the first round this year performed as follows in Week 13:

First-round rookie QBs: Week 13

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
Zach Wilson 59 38 23 60.5% 226 2 1 5 1 35.0% 2 1 1 83.9 0.090
Trevor Lawrence 58 28 16 57.1% 145 0 0 1 1 30.3% 4 10 0 71.3 -0.051
Mac Jones 51 3 2 66.7% 19 0 0 0 0 66.7% 3 5 0 84.0 -0.108
Trey Lance -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Justin Fields -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

With Justin Fields inactive due to injury and with Trey Lance once again not seeing the field, three of the first-round rookie quarterbacks saw the field in Week 13. Out of the three, Mac Jones was the only one able to lead his team to victory.

Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars (Pick No. 1): The lowly Jaguars did not stand a chance against the Los Angeles Rams, losing with a final score of 37-7. Lawrence, meanwhile, looked like he did for much of his first NFL season so far: he relied primarily on short passes and check-downs, did have some encouraging moments, but eventually was unable to make enough plays to help his team win. Once again, though, his supporting cast — both on the field and the sidelines — did do little to help him.

Zach Wilson, Jets (Pick No. 2): Even though the Jets ended up losing 33-18 to the visiting Philadelphia Eagles, Wilson played a solid game. However, the story of the game is one of two halves. The rookie appeared to be in full control in the first half and did not play the “hero ball” that hurt him numerous times before. In the second half, however, he was a bit more inconsistent. As is the case with Trevor Lawrence, however, his supporting cast did not necessarily do much to help him.

Mac Jones, Patriots (Pick No. 15): Only three teams in the Super Bowl era have attempted three or fewer passes in a game, and the Mac Jones-led 2021 Patriots are one of them. With the game against the Buffalo Bills being played in windy conditions, New England relied on its ground game to get the job done. The result: 44 run plays, three passes thrown by Mac Jones, and, most importantly, a 14-10 victory. Still, Jones participated in a game unlike any other in the 21st century.

With Jones primarily asked to hand the football off against Buffalo, his performance is impossible to compare to Lawrence’s and Wilson’s. Neither of the two played overly successful football in Week 13, but the Jets’ rookie did show some promising development at least. Lawrence, on the other hand, remains stuck in quarterbacking purgatory.

First-round rookie quarterbacks all season long

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

First-round rookie QBs: Weeks 1-13

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
Mac Jones 812 384 270 70.3% 2,869 16 8 9 13 28.4% 24 86 0 97.0 0.158
Trevor Lawrence 765 426 247 58.0% 2,514 9 10 23 20 34.7% 46 245 2 72.3 -0.025
Justin Fields 500 198 115 58.1% 1,361 4 8 6 4 35.9% 51 317 2 69.0 -0.125
Zach Wilson 453 243 141 58.0% 1,539 6 11 20 9 39.6% 9 29 2 66.2 -0.135
Trey Lance 116 48 25 52.1% 354 3 1 4 2 35.0% 28 140 1 88.4 -0.012

All five first-round quarterback have seen significant action so far this season; each one of them has started at least one game for his respective team over the first 13 weeks. 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.

Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars (Pick No. 1): Ranking second behind only Mac Jones in most volume statistics, Lawrence has received plenty of action through his first 13 games as Jacksonville’s QB1. He has not always been up to the challenge, and continues to struggle with consistency, but he appears to have settled down a bit after what was a rather disappointing start to his professional career.

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 been throwing at least one interception in all but one of his games this season. Wilson’s play alongside a highly inconsistent supporting cast has actively contributed to the team’s issues this year. He has had his moments — Week 13 being one of them — but they were few and far between.

Trey Lance, 49ers (Pick No. 3): The number two behind ex-Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo, Lance did start the 49ers’ Week 5 game, 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. That said, with Garoppolo having played some solid football for the team recently, it appears unlikely that Lance will take the starting job anytime soon.

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 seven games that can be described as a mixed bag: the Ohio State product looked overmatched at times, but did showcase his high ceiling as a dual-threat QB on occasion. However, a rib injury forced him to miss the Bears’ last two games but he is expected back in Week 14

Mac Jones, Patriots (Pick No. 15): Jones has started all 13 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 game in Buffalo was unique from that perspective. Still, he appears to be headed in the right direction while also being the current leader among the first-round rookie QBs in most statistical categories.

Our analysis continues to read the same it has the last few weeks: Mac Jones has hands down been the best of the five first-round rookie quarterbacks this year. New England now owns a 9-4 record and the top playoff seed in the AFC, with its young QB being a big reason for that. He has been playing some encouraging football recently and continues to show the growth that one would like to see from a rookie, especially at the position.

While he saw limited opportunities to throw the football in Week 13, Jones continues to look like a potential franchise quarterback and the front-runner to earn Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.