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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 11 CFP National Championship - Alabama v Ohio State

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Welcome to another edition of Dueling Mocks with Nick Wilson and Will Palaszczuk. With just two weeks to go until the NFL Draft, we wanted to highlight a group that doesn’t nearly get talked about enough…the quarterbacks. 

This week we’re doing a QB Mock Draft which focuses exclusively on this year’s top 8 ranked quarterbacks and where where we think they’ll land.

1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Will: Jacksonville Jaguars. We’ve come this far, no reason to think Urban Meyer will change his mind. The team needs a quarterback, and he’s the best QB prospect to come out of college since Andrew Luck, with still plenty of ability and resources to build around him. Lawrence has survived any barbs to come his way in terms of criticism, including some who question his ability against man coverage. Regardless, he’s still the number one prospect by a mile.

Nick: Jacksonville Jaguars. As we have for every mock draft, we have to work around the worst kept secret in NFL history. Trevor Lawrence is going to Jacksonville and it’s a perfect fit. This is the Jaguars first chance at a generational prospect, one that gives every Jags fan realistic dreams of the organization’s first Super Bowl appearance. That’s the starting place for expectations. Good luck Urban & Trevor.

2. Justin Fields, Ohio State

Nick: Carolina Panthers. Zach Wilson will be going second but Justin Fields is the second best quarterback prospect in this draft. Yet given the pre-draft narratives on him, its almost impossible to know where he’ll land. For me, the best landing spots are between Denver and Carolina. Sure the Panthers have Sam Darnold but if he’s there at 8, he gives them their first chance at a franchise QB since Cam. Great size, great athlete and the perfect combo of accuracy and athleticism.  

Will: Denver Broncos. The Panthers either take a non-QB at 8 or pass on Fields, meaning George Paton has the heir-apparent the franchise has been looking for since John Elway. The Broncos, knowing they can’t play Drew Lock in front of Fields, trade Lock for a late-round draft pick to another franchise. The Broncos are set at QB in a division that now boasts three of the best young talents at the position.

3. Zach Wilson, BYU

Will: New York Jets. The trade of Sam Darnold telegraphed this move for New York, and despite a shaky track record at the position, the Jets will try again with the BYU signal-caller. Wilson will have the opportunity to buoy the career of new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur to give him a similar rise like his brother, Matt. The elder LaFleur went from being a QB coach in Atlanta to being named the Head Coach of the Packers three years later. Wilson, despite the competition level with the Cougars possesses all the measurables and abilities that make QB scouts salivate.

Nick: New York Jets. I repeat, they should take Justin Fields but Zach Wilson fits all the necessary buzzwords in a league looking to find the next Aaron Rodgers or Pat Mahomes. His arm talent and off-script abilities tantalized scouts all year. Joe Douglas & Robert Saleh have put their reputations on the line with this pick.

4. Trey Lance, North Dakota State

Nick: Denver Broncos. I’m not sure who will be the last quarterback of the top 5 off the board, Fields or Lance. My guess is that Lance & Fields could both be there at 8 for Carolina which would allow one or both to fall to Denver. Lance is perceived as the most raw QB in this draft but in reality, he’s just the least experienced. He played in a pro style offense at ND State, is big and athletic with a rocket for an arm. He’s not dissimilar to Broncos great John Elway. 

Will: Washington Football Team. With Ryan Fitzpatrick in place as a potential bridge, the Washington Football Team trades up from 19 into the Top 10 to get their QB of the future. Dan Snyder has always had a quick-trigger when it comes to moving up in the draft, and this year is no exception. Lance, although raw from a game experience standpoint, comes in with the most room for growth of any of the quarterbacks near the top of this draft.

5. Mac Jones, Alabama

Will: San Francisco 49ers. As much I would rather see Justin Fields in San Francisco with Kyle Shanhan, he wins out in the power struggle between him and GM John Lynch. Shanahan feels that Jones can use his smarts and decision-making to overcome a lack of athleticism at the position. With all the offensive weapons the Niners possess, they need an accurate distributor of the football. For a team that has started CJ Beathard & Nick Mullens at QB in place of Jimmy Garappolo, Jones represents some much-needed stability at the position.

Nick: San Francisco 49ers. There are no- two more polarizing Qb prospects in this draft than Jones & Justin Fields. Jones has the buzz of the smartest QB in the draft despite marginal talent. Kyle Shanahan has had success with Kirk Cousins & Jimmy Garoppolo before which leads people to believe this is the pick. I think Jones would also make sense for New England too. 

6. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M

Nick: New England Patriots. Everyone is calling for Bill Belichick to trade up for a quarterback which almost certainly means he won’t. Bill has a strong track record of drafting quarterbacks after the 1st round and I can’t shake the idea that Mond is a great fit behind Cam Newton. Aggies Head Coach Jimbo Fisher said at least 10 NFL teams have inquired about Mond and I’m not surprised. 

Will: Houston Texans. The team that has its incumbent starter in limbo makes a move for a guy who has regional appeal. The Texans need any kind of good press behind them, and an owner like Cal McNair, cognizant of what it would mean to keep an Aggie at home, brings Mond into the fold. Kellen Mond is a guy who had some standout games early in his career at Texas A&M, but failed to show the progression many tabbed him for. He gets the opportunity to learn under Pep Hamilton & Tim Kelly in a first-year coaching staff.

7. Kyle Trask, Florida

Will: New England Patriots. The Patriots trade out of the first round to get a high second rounder and scoop up the former Gators QB. If Cam Newton has the renaissance that people in New England feel he can have, there’s no pressure to play Trask right away. If Newton falters, Trask inherits a new treasure trove of weapons, and a better offensive line than the last two Patriots QBs. Trask can’t sling it as well as the guys at the top of the draft, but with the supporting cast, he can succeed in New England.

Nick: New Orleans Saints. Trask has prototypical NFL size and a good arm. He was also insanely productive at Florida. Yet there were concerns about his ability to read the field and his lack of athleticism has hurt him. I love the Saints spot for him because Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill can do the heavy lifting but if things fall apart, they could try Trask late in the year. If he could learn to get the ball out quick, the talent around him could do the work for Trask in NOLA.

8. Jamie Newman, Georgia by way of Wake Forest

Nick: Seattle Seahawks. Newman is the toughest to place and I wish he’d have played this year at Georgia. Only a starter for one full year at Wake, he’s big, athletic and has a great arm. Yet he needs a place with an established starting quarterback where he can sit back and learn. Seattle, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas make the most sense to me. Drafting Newman gives Seattle a body to throw at the position in 2022 if they move on from Russell Wilson and it shouldn’t cost them more than a third or fourth round pick. 

Will: Pittsburgh Steelers. With Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement imminent, the Steelers try to take advantage of his tutelage by bringing in Newman, who will not have played competitive football in two years by the time he steps into Pittsburgh’s facility. A full offseason, training camp and most of the preseason reps will allow him to get reacclimated to game speed. While the Steelers did sign Dwayne Haskins in the offseason & still have Mason Rudolph, there’s no guarantee either of those guys can be long-term options at the position. Plus, Steelers’ GM Kevin Colbert never tires of taking as many shots as he can to find Big Ben’s replacement.

What to look for in 4.0: Nick and Will give their full seven-round Panthers mock draft.