NFL PRESEASON: In Week One, First-Round Quarterbacks ImpressThe Daily Wire

No, preseason football doesn’t actually count toward the standings. Potential starters get only a handful of series — at best — and most of the guys playing in the second half of games won’t see the field come the regular season. 

But it’s still football — which we all desperately crave — and there were five rookie quarterbacks making their NFL debuts this past weekend.

Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones all made their first appearances on an NFL field. There was some good, some bad, and even some spectacular play from the rookie QBs.

Let’s take a dive into the performances of the future franchise QBs (we hope).

Trevor Lawrence: 6-9, 71 yds, 66.7% 

Lawrence is touted as the most polished quarterback to come out of college since Andrew Luck entered the league out of Stanford in 2012. He certainly seems like a sure thing, but if his career winds up the same as Luck’s, you have to think he’ll be a disappointment. 

NFL first-year head coach Urban Meyer is using typical “coach-speak” as he delays naming a starter for opening day. Third-year quarterback Gardner Minshew is battling in camp for the first-string gig, but sooner or later, the job will be Lawrence’s. 

On Saturday, Lawrence made his professional debut against the Cleveland Browns, and while he certainly wasn’t spectacular, he showed flashes of why the hype surrounding him has been so loud. 

Lawrence’s first snap resulted in a sack and a fumble by Lawrence. Though he was able to recover the football, it was one of the negatives of the night for Lawrence — holding onto the football for too long in the pocket. 

Late in the first quarter, Lawrence showed why the first-year head coach has hitched his wagon to the Clemson product, throwing a beautiful pass to receiver Marvin Jones for a 35-yard gain. 


(via @NFL)

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 14, 2021


“I asked [passing game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer] how he played, and he said he did pretty good,” Meyer said. “I thought the ball to his left right in front of us, I think it was on third down, he really anticipated a nice out cut, scrambled and delivered a nice one to Marvin Jones.”

Zach Wilson: 6-9, 63 yds, 

For fans of the New York Jets, Wilson is another in a long line of potential franchise quarterbacks to put on the Green and White. Remember Mark Sanchez and Sam Darnold? The Jets blew their chance at Lawrence when they won two of their last three games after starting the 2020 season 0-13, setting for what they viewed as the second best option in Wilson, though there were few teams that saw it differently. 

The heat is on Wilson with Trey Lance, Mac Jones, and Justin Fields all picked after him in the 2021 NFL Draft, and his struggles in training camp have certainly added to the pressure. 

On Saturday night, Wilson saw playing time against the New York Giants, and Jets fans can breathe a sigh of relief — for at least a week. 

Wilson played two series on Saturday and settled the nerves of Jets fans everywhere. He was 3-for-3 on third down, including a conversion on third-and-14 to tight end Tyler Kroft. 

Move the sticks. @ZachWilson delivers a strike. #NYJvsNYG

— NFL (@NFL) August 15, 2021

“We have so much confidence in the young man,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said of Wilson after the game. “You want him to stack up as many good days as possible but, there’s still youth, he’s still a rookie. There’s still a lot of things he’s going to learn from, there’s still opportunities for him to grow. There’s even here, in this game, despite the fact that he looked comfortable, and he did a nice job, there’s still going to be things that he can learn off of. It’s never going to end, this young man’s potential is through the roof, it’s going to be a process.”

Wilson didn’t have to do much but showed off his strong arm while showing poise in the pocket. 

Trey Lance: 5-14, 128 yds, 1 TD, 4 sacks

By all reports, Lance has impressed at Niners camp. They traded up to take him third overall in the draft, seemingly to replace the often-injured Jimmy Garoppolo. It didn’t take long for Lance to make an impact. 

In his second possession of the game, Lance threw a dime to receiver Trent Sherfield for an 80-yard touchdown. Lance did a wonderful job of looking off the coverage before letting it fly to Trent Sherfield. 


— NFL (@NFL) August 15, 2021


It was the kind of big-play that Niners fans have been longing for ever since Garoppolo came to town. But while everyone was buzzing about Lance’s throw, the rest of the game was still filled with rookie mistakes. 

While his receivers did drop three very catchable balls, Lance held onto the ball in the pocket for too long, resulting in the four sacks. He also completely misread the Kansas City Chiefs coverage on a throw late in the second quarter, resulting in an incompletion that easily could have been an interception. 

Lance showed why San Francisco drafted him. The athleticism and potential are there, but Garoppolo is still the safer bet as the Niners prepare for opening day. 

Justin Fields: 14-20. 142 yds, 1 TD, 5 carries, 33 yds, 1 TD

Entering his final season at Ohio State, Fields was widely regarded as the second quarterback to be taken in the draft behind Lawrence. As the draft approached, questions surrounding Fields’ ability to get off of his first read increased, and Wilson’s next-level arm strength led him to be taken second overall. 

But sometimes it’s the quarterback that is the most consistent that’s the safest pick. 

Fields started slow but finished strong, wowing the Bears crowd in the process. 

After three straight subpar drives — including a near interception and a fumble — Fields put together three consecutive scoring drives for Chicago, running for touchdowns and throwing for another. 


His first TD in an NFL uniform 🔥

(via @NFL)

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 14, 2021

✅ Rush TD
✅ Pass TD

Justin Fields is having himself a day in his NFL preseason debut 👀

(via @NFL)

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 14, 2021

“He did a great job of bouncing back, which is what he’s always done,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said after the game.

It’s hard not to be impressed by Fields’ debut. 

Mac Jones: 13-19, 87 yds, 1 sack

Lost in the shuffle of the weekend preseason games was the NFL debut of Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. 

The 15th overall pick is in a quarterback battle with Cam Newton, but after Thursday night, it’s clear that Jones will be behind center at some point this season. 

He got the ball out quickly and accurately, reminding Patriots fans what it’s like to have a quarterback who’s capable of actually generating a passing attack. There was nothing spectacular from Jones, but there didn’t need to be. 

PFF passing grades among first round rookie QBs this preseason:

🇺🇸 Mac Jones – 82.0
✈️ Zach Wilson – 78.8
🐻 Justin Fields – 64.2
🐆 Trevor Lawrence – 58.5
⛏ Trey Lance – 49.0

— PFF (@PFF) August 15, 2021

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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