The ACC has been taking part in for 5 weeks, the SEC simply wrapped up its third week of motion, and subsequent week we’ll get the Large Ten again on the sector — which implies much more quarterbacks with NFL aspirations to guage. For now, let’s assessment the weekend performances for the unquestioned greatest participant within the 2021 draft class, a rising star and a gaggle of passers who’re hoping to enhance their inventory with strong performances.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Trevor Lawrence stays the perfect participant in faculty soccer, and by the spring he’ll seemingly be one of many 10 greatest gamers within the NFL. He is coming off one other spectacular efficiency, even by his personal requirements, setting profession highs in passing yards (404) and touchdowns (5) in simply over two quarters of labor. TWO! Lawrence, maybe wanting to indicate that he’s, in truth, from this planet, did throw an interception though you might argue that his receiver might have completed extra to make a play on the ball. Both approach, it was Lawrence’s first decide of the season, to associate with 15 touchdowns and a 73 completion share.
You possibly can see all 5 first-half TDs right here however two stand out above the remaining. First, the accuracy and arm power are onerous to wrap your mind round…
… Till you see this landing cross from a couple of minutes earlier:
There isn’t a approach Lawrence is not the first-overall decide. The one query is whether or not the Jets would be the workforce to pick him (and, frankly, it is robust to ascertain a state of affairs the place the Jets win a recreation and do not by some means find yourself with the highest choice within the 2021 NFL Draft).
In the meantime, should you’re in search of holes in Lawrence’s recreation … nicely, we want you luck. He did throw an interception — his first since October 19, 2019, and forcing an off-balance throw downfield was, in truth, a poor resolution. However these are the errors you possibly can dwell with when Lawrence is able to all the things else. The ball comes out on instances, with accuracy and tempo, and he confidently will get by means of his progressions. Granted, it helps to have Clemson’s offensive line, and that kind of safety seemingly will not be the case on a workforce just like the Jets (Joe Burrow can affirm that his NFL O-line play hasn’t fairly resembled what he skilled in faculty).
Lawrence additionally has the athleticism to not solely purchase time contained in the pocket, however to win along with his toes downfield — we noticed him outrun Ohio State to the tip zone within the January playoff recreation. If we’ll knock him for something, Lawrence would not throw with a lot anticipation however he hasn’t been requested to. Not like a 12 months in the past (when, we remind you, Lawrence by means of his final interception earlier than Saturday), there isn’t a Joe Burrow making his approach up draft boards. There is definitely an opportunity for Justin Fields to ball out as soon as Ohio State takes the sector, however we already knew he was a top-10 expertise. All that is left to resolve is which workforce will win the Lawrence sweepstakes.
Mac Jones, Alabama
Mac Jones’ night bought off to an inauspicious begin when his first cross try ended up within the arms of a Georgia defender. In his protection, Jones was hit whereas as he threw it and the ball wobbled within the air like a brief punt. That, it seems, was the low level for Jones who went on to throw for 417 yards (for the second straight week, and exceed 400 passing yard for 3 video games in a row) with 4 touchdowns and the aforementioned decide. As CBS Sports activities’ Chris Trapasso wrote per week in the past, “Everybody’s beginning to understand Jones is underrated as a quarterback,” which was once more confirmed on Saturday night time. Jones comes into the night finishing 70 % of his throws that traveled 15 or extra yards downfield and that deep passing accuracy was on show towards a stout Georgia protection that features a secondary stuffed with draft-eligible expertise.
In fact, Jones and this Alabama offense has some “draft-eligible expertise” too, beginning with two of the perfect wideouts on the planet in Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. When it was over, Waddle had six catches for 161 yards and a rating and Smith had 11 catches for 167 yards and two scores. The remainder of the Alabama offense mixed for seven catches, 89 yards and a touchdowns.
Smith, whose slight construct has some NFL of us involved, would not play like he is at a measurement or power drawback. His first TD got here on a wheel route the place he bought himself huge open:
Then he adopted that up with a Grown-Man Catch behind the tip zone:
In the meantime, Waddle, who is likely to be the quickest participant in soccer — and that features former teammate Henry Ruggs III — left Tyson Campbell (who has been within the first spherical of our latest mock drafts and is a extremely, actually good participant) in his jet wash on this route. My phrase, man.
So, sure, Jones in all probability is not having such a success if he is taking part in for Mississippi State. Nevertheless it additionally requires a particular expertise to ship these deep balls precisely and on time. Jones’ accuracy suffers when he is requested to make performs off-platform, or when he is hurried within the pocket, and he is a prototypical pocket passer who would not have the athleticism to win along with his toes. That stated, he is sensible, dependable, will get by means of his reads shortly, and often delivers the ball the place it is alleged to go. There’s a variety of worth in a participant like that on the subsequent degree.
D’Eriq King, Miami
King wasn’t requested to do so much towards Pittsburgh. Miami did not look to push the ball downfield within the first half, which is one thing King does nicely, and as an alternative leaned on the working recreation and the short-passing assault to get out to a 14-6 lead on the break earlier than profitable 31-19. King did throw 4 touchdowns however all 4 have been of the wide-open selection. Nonetheless, it is a good throw that hits tight finish Will Mallory in stride down the seam:
However King was responsible on a number of events of throwing late to the skin, which led to a cross breakup early within the recreation and an interception within the third quarter.
His different interception got here simply earlier than halftime, on a tipped cross. Which brings us to a different concern: At 5-foot-9, King has little or no margin for error, and tipped passes will probably be part of his recreation when he is throwing from the pocket.
King additionally spent a lot of the sport working for his life; Pittsburgh’s defensive position was an issue from begin to end, and it allowed King to flash the athleticism that has served him nicely all through his faculty profession. That athleticism is a double-edge sword, nevertheless, and King took extra hits than you’d wish to see out of your quarterback. And whereas King should buy time along with his toes, he must get the ball out on time with extra consistency.
Ok.J. Costello, Mississippi State
Welp. Three weeks in the past Ok.J. Costello was recent off throttling LSU and catapulting himself proper again into the draft dialog. On Saturday, he was benched within the third quarter after dropping a fumble in what can be the Bulldogs third straight loss. He additionally struggled to carry onto the snap, bobbling the ball on a minimum of three events, and threw one other interception, bringing his season complete to 10.
For some perspective, Costello threw for 623 yards and 5 touchdowns and two interceptions towards LSU within the opener, and within the three video games since he is thrown for 644 yards one landing and eight picks.
Coach Mike Leach stated earlier than the sport that Costello was “not essentially” on a brief leash however it’s actually comprehensible why he was benched. The Mississippi State offensive line did not assist issues, usually blowing assignments and leaving Costello in no-man’s land, however there isn’t any one accountable for Costello’s lone interception than, nicely, Costello. On the Bulldogs’ second drive, he overthrew his receiver on a deep submit route, defensive again Myles Jones had inside leverage all through the route and Costello nonetheless threw it. It was a nasty resolution earlier than the ball left his hand and all that was left to find out was if Jones would haul it in.
The Mississippi State offense struggled once more towards a protection that dropped eight and rushed simply three. In consequence, Costello usually regarded not sure of the place to go together with the ball, opted for checkdowns, and usually these checkdowns got here up in need of the sticks. This wasn’t all on Costello however there isn’t any denying he is taking part in poorly in latest weeks.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Mond had a largely quiet Saturday afternoon, partly as a result of the eye was targeted on simply how poorly his counterpart, Ok.J. Costello, performed. Per week after a stellar effort towards the Gators, Mond went 13 of 23 for 139 yards with two touchdowns and a decide in a recreation the place working again Isaiah Spiller did a lot of the heavy lifting (he rushed for 114 yards and scored twice) and Mond linked on quick and intermediate passes to simply 4 completely different receivers — together with this pitch-and-catch 51-yard landing dump-off to Chase Lane:
Mond seems the half, and when he is taking part in with confidence he will be actually good. NFL groups must see extra consistency from him one play to the following although there’s not a lot to remove from Saturday’s efficiency simply because he wasn’t requested to do so much towards a Mississippi State workforce that was too busy self-destructing to fret ab out Mond and the Texas A&M offense.