3 QB Options for the Eagles
It’s no secret that this offseason is going to be a monster baring down on the fan base, like Brandon Graham baring down on Tom Brady. Even after Carson Wentz’s departure for Indianapolis, the franchise stated that they would look to bring competition in for the starting quarterback job, which was presumptively Jalen Hurts’ job to lose. However, given the circumstances surrounding the organization, the front office not being “obvious” believers in the talent that Jalen Hurts possesses and the Eagles holding the sixth overall selection in this April’s upcoming draft, it creates an odd dynamic for the team. That last time the team held a pick in the top 10, WITHOUT trading other draft capital, was in 2013 when they selected Lane Johnson as the fourth overall pick in the draft. Given all these circumstances, I want everyone to know what to expect if the Eagles do decide to select a quarterback in this upcoming draft. Here is a comparison of the three options that the Eagles will have.
Zach Wilson, Brigham Young University
Wilson is the favorite of many Eagles fans for obvious reasons. He’s a very young quarterback, at just 21 years of age, and has all of the qualities that you like to see from a quarterback. Wilson plays with great athleticism whenever he touches the football field. His athletic ability gives him the option to pull the ball down and run for first downs whenever the pocket collapses, but he’s not overly reliant on that athleticism. This same ability gives the BYU quarterback a second dimension in offenses that rely more heavily on the run-pass-option or in the zone read game.
As a passer, Wilson is close to being the best passer in the draft class, next to Trevor Lawrence. Arm strength, throwing on the run and having a good base on throws are what really push Wilson over the edge. Wilson has made tremendous strides to his throwing accuracy over the last season, improving both his accuracy and pass touch, while not giving up any arm strength either. Wilson still does have a ways to go before he’s considered an “accurate” passer, but he has a nice feel for the game and has no issues hitting receivers in stride on any route patterns, especially timing routes.
Wilson obviously projects as a starter in the NFL, but it would do him well to have a little bit of every offensive scheme mixed into the play book, as to not limit his progression. Ideally, he would go to a team with spread principles that mixes in a good bit of the screen game and timing routes, as to allow his accuracy and anticipation to continue to develop. Overall, Wilson plays the game with great poise and composure that teams will surely fall in love with.
Justin Fields, Ohio State University
Fields is another popular name among the Eagles fandom for his ability to break the pocket and make something out of nothing, reminiscent of vintage Carson Wentz. Fields is a taller statured quarterback then Wilson, which represents the size that is expected of modern NFL quarterbacks. However, with the stature, Fields also blends throwing ability, athleticism and the clutch gene with that stature, so he’s not just a one dimensional player. Much like Wilson, Fields has the athleticism to break the pocket and run whenever pressure breaks it down, but Fields actually has more of the ability to run QB Draws and designed QB runs that Wilson often didn’t put on tape.
As a passer, Fields represents elite arm talent with the finesse to be able to throw around defenders or generating velocity through his strong base when throwing while the pocket is collapsing. The Buckeyes, and Ryan Day, did a nice job of curtailing the offense to Fields’ strengths and implemented a rolling pocket to allow Fields to get outside of the pocket and use his throw-on-the-run accuracy, while displaying his arm strength to be able to throw to any spot on the field while rolling.
Fields projects as a long term starter for any NFL franchise, but his ability to be a big, dynamic runner, and a passer that is accurate in most phases of the game is what will keep him around in the league. Fields has the running ability to be in a zone read, heavy RPO offense, while still displaying the arm strength to be able to operate in a spread, air-raid based offense. Ideally, you’d see a crossover between a spread and west coast offense that would allow him to showcase his valuable running dynamics as well. There is a curse around Ohio State quarterbacks entering and transitioning to the NFL, look no further than Dwyane Haskins, but Fields may be the one to break that narrative.
Trey Lance, North Dakota State
Lance is the most interesting of all three quarterbacks in this class. Lance has all the intangibles to prove the doubters wrong, but he doesn’t have the experience or faced the competition level that most front offices want in their franchise quarterback. Lance has the stature to be able to run the football, as he did on several occasions at NDSU, but he wasn’t often utilized in that manner. Often, you’ll see him go through his first two reads quickly and then tuck the ball to take off, only for his receivers to break open as he’s crossing the line of scrimmage.
As a passer, Lance showcases some elite intangibles that still need some fine tuning in the process. He shows the ability to make every pass on quick reads, intermediate routes and deep balls, but often gets antsy in the pocket and will tuck the ball before the play develops. He’s shown good touch and arm strength on deep passes, as well as being able to generate good velocity on his throws. Overall, he needs to continue to develop his accuracy and touch on short and intermediate routes, and use his size to throw around defenders, rather than escaping the pocket to attempt to find an alley to through into.
Overall, Lance projects as an eventual starter in the NFL, with experience from the gun, pistol and under center, he has shown the ability to operate from any offensive scheme that a head coach would prefer to run. Lance will likely need to sit behind a veteran presence to fine tune his game, but could project as a day one starter if he develops rapidly in the offseason. Given that there was no FCS football this offseason, 2020 is the last tape we have on him, in which he threw for 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions with a 160.1 passer rating, so even though the level of play was not that of the bigger schools, he didn’t play down to his competition.
So there are the big three quarterbacks and what you should expect from each of them if they are selected by the Eagles. It would be a heck of a storyline if the Eagles turn one North Dakota State quarterback into another, and would actually make the most sense given the presence of Jalen Hurts, but I’d prefer to stick with a sure thing, rather than a project. We knew what Carson was coming out of college and failed to protect him in the process, so if the Eagles do decide to draft a quarterback, they have to get this thing right.
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