2021 NFL Draft: Kyle Trask still belongs in first-round conversation

2021 NFL Draft prospect Kyle Trask #11 of the Florida Gators (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
2021 NFL Draft prospect Kyle Trask #11 of the Florida Gators (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Kyle Trask had a rough outing in the Cotton Bowl, but he still firmly belongs in the first round conversation in the 2021 NFL draft.

This year’s quarterback class has a chance to tie the 1983 class’ record of six quarterbacks in the first round. The top four is somewhat set in stone with Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance all likely set to go in the top 10-15 picks, that leaves guys like Kyle Trask and Mac Jones as options for teams looking to invest in a quarterback without having to give up assets to move into the top 10.

Trask is firmly behind the top four in this class from a talent perspective, he isn’t someone who makes your jaw drop when you watch his highlights but he checks a lot of the boxes needed to develop into a solid starter in the NFL.

The most important trait for a quarterback is accuracy and Trask has been accurate to all levels of the field this season.  He may not have elite arm strength, but he can still put the ball where it needs to be.

Trask’s ability to read defenses and make good decisions makes me confident that he’s ready to at least compete for a starting job.  It’s hard to expect much from any rookie quarterback, but I believe he can win games in a situation where he’s not asked to do too much.

Trask had a bad game in the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma where he threw three picks, however, while he shouldn’t be let off the hook or given a pass or anything I don’t think he should be judged too harshly because not only were Florida’s top four pass-catchers out but based on what Dan Mullen had to say after the game it doesn’t seem like they prepared as well as they should have.

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For most of the season, Trask has managed to avoid putting the ball in harm’s way, coming into the game he’d only thrown five picks despite over 400 pass attempts, which makes me confident he won’t be turnover prone in the NFL.

As I mentioned earlier, Trask’s arm strength isn’t elite by any means, but it’s still strong enough to make throws downfield. In fact, he’s been pretty impressive on throws downfield this season, according to PFF, he’s completed 38 of his 69 attempts for 16 touchdowns and no picks on passes 20+ yards downfield.

As far as intangibles go he’s about as good as it gets, there’s no question he’ll be a great teammate and locker room presence. In high school, he didn’t start because he was on the same team as D’Eriq King, so if he needs to start his career as a backup, he’ll handle that well.

The bottom line with Trask is that he’s not the flashiest prospect and his upside is not as high as prospects like Lawrence, Fields, Wilson, and Lance, but he’s good enough from an accuracy and mental standpoint that he can be a solid starter at the next level.

Most realistic landing spots

The most realistic spot for Trask is somewhere in the mid to late first round area. Unless a team trades up into the end of the first round, a playoff team or fringe playoff teams appears to be the most likely landing spot for Trask. Out of those playoff teams, I have identified five teams that would be ideal fits for Trask and I’ve added another team that didn’t make the playoffs, but is also a potential a potential good fit for Trask.

New England Patriots

After their first losing season since 2000 will be picking 15th overall and they are in need of a quarterback of the future. I still think Cam Newton is good enough to start in the NFL, but according to a report from Adam Schefter it looks like they’ll be parting ways in the offseason.

The Patriots are in a spot now where they have enough talent on the roster to compete for a playoff spot next year, so it’s not like they need to tank for a quarterback and drafting Trask would give them someone to build around for the future.

Washington Football Team

Washington is in an interesting situation because they really aren’t a playoff quality team but because of their division, they’ll be getting a spot. They drafted Dwayne Haskins in the first round two years ago, however he was recently released. They could roll with Alex Smith again, but even that would just be a short-term answer.

Washington is building a good young team, between Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Terry McLaurin they already have multiple stars still on their rookie contracts. Now, all they need is to add a young quarterback they can win games with and that could be Trask.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This may seem like a weird pick because the Buccaneers are contenders and may be expected to use their first round pick to fill an immediate need, but the draft is where you build your team for the future and Tom Brady is 43 and not going to play forever, so even if Trask wouldn’t play right away, drafting him makes sense

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have a roster good enough to win now with and Phillip Rivers is still a very solid quarterback, however he just turned 39 and it’s a very real possibility that he retires. Jacoby Brissett could be option, but he’s a free agent and he struggled as the full-time starter last year.

There’s no ideal option for the Colts if Rivers does retire, unless Dak Prescott doesn’t go back to the Cowboys there aren’t many intriguing options in free agency. They could trade for someone or trade up into the top ten to get one of the higher regard quarterback prospects, but that would come at a steep cost.

Trask would be someone who can potentially be the answer at quarterback long-term and they wouldn’t be essentially betting the house on him panning out like they would be with a trade into the top ten.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Although the Steelers have been able to win this year with Ben Roethlisberger it’s pretty clear the end of his career is coming soon. We have seen a completely different Big Ben this season as he’s not throwing the ball downfield as much and is getting the ball out quickly, perhaps this is due to declining arm strength and lack of mobility.

I could see him playing another year or two at a level good enough for the Steelers to win with, but with what we’ve seen this year they have to start thinking about a replacement. Pittsburgh would be a good situation for any young quarterback to step into, Trask could spend a year or two as Roethlisberger’s understudy and take over when he’s ready.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints are in a very similar situation as the Steelers, both teams have very good supporting casts around quarterbacks who are heading towards retirement. Drew Brees is still a good quarterback, but it’s looking like this may be his last season.

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This is still probably the least likely possible destination of all the teams I just listed, but if Jameis Winston doesn’t re-sign the Saints still need to be open to taking a quarterback early in the draft. They won some games with Taysom Hill and he played well in those games, but he still doesn’t project as a long-term starter, Kyle Trask does.