2022: The Year of the Second Year Quarterback
Justin Fields QB Bears
Out of all of the second-year quarterbacks from the 2021 NFL Draft class, the Bears have done the worst job of surrounding their quarterback. Heading into free agency the Bears had one of the worst receiving cores and offensive lines in the NFL; they did not address either position group. The Bears did add a few deep targets with Velus Jones and Byron Pringle, but failed to add that "number one guy". With all of that being said, the Bears did add a quarterback-centric offensive coordinator who has worked with the best. Luke Getsy is believed to be one of those "quarterback whisperers", and will help Fields tremendously. Not to mention, David Montgomery and Darnell Mooney are back, and Cole Kmet is on the brink of a breakout year. In his sophomore season, I am looking for him to get the ball out faster and use his legs more intentionally. While I don't love how the Bears have surrounded Fields, I do believe he will take some major steps in 2022.
Trevor Lawrence QB Jaguars
The biggest thing for Trevor Lawrence in year two is what I like to call "the Doug Pederson Effect". I couldn't believe that Urban Meyer was an NFL head coach in 2021, but thankfully for Lawrence, he will have a coach who is known for developing quarterbacks. With Pederson, Lawrence will be able to develop a routine and find consistency. There needs to be a monotony at the quarterback position, and Lawrence did not have any type of familiarity with his coaching staff on or off the field in 2022. The Jaguars were not afraid to go out and spend money on their top free agents either. While I do believe Trent Baalke overpaid for some of their top guys, the Jaguars did get better. The additions of Brandon Scherff, Christian Kirk, and Zay Jones are important. While those guys may not be "superstars", they are respected veterans who will help Lawrence find comfortability. In 2022, I am looking for Lawrence to find that comfortability, make smarter decisions, and just flow (no I am not talking about his hair, that will flow regardless). Lawrence is so talented, he just needs to play old-school, backyard football, and he will be a lot more comfortable.
Trey Lance QB 49ers
There is no player I am more excited to see play in 2022 than Trey Lance. He is one of my favorite players that I have ever scouted, and he landed with the most innovative offensive mind in the NFL. While I am excited to see what Lance is physically capable of, I am even more excited to see his mental progression in Kyle Shanahan's system. In his limited reps, Lance flashed his freakish talent and showed major improvement from his first start in Arizona to his start against the Texans. I am also excited to see him develop chemistry with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle. Shanahan is going to open up his playbook and come up with creative ways for Lance to use his arm and mobility. I could see legit "super-stardom" coming Lance's way in 2022, but I believe 2022 will be more so a year of growth for Lance. I believe Lance is best set up for long-term success out of all these guys. The two biggest areas that I am looking to happen for Lance is the game to slow down for him and for him to be smarter as a runner. He has already taken more hits than most quarterbacks ever do in their rookie year, and he only had legit playing time in three games. Of all the quarterbacks in the 2021 class, I believe Lance is best set up for long-term success. Trey Lance is going to take over the NFL in 2022, he just needs the reps.
Mac Jones QB Patriots
While it may not show up on the stat sheet, I expect major growth from Mac Jones in 2022. He isn't going to be that "five touchdowns per-game" guy; that just isn't his game. With that being said, I anticipate Jones taking command of the Patriots' offense and having a greater say in play-calling. I believe he will be able to check plays at the line and call audibles. I also expect his chemistry with Kendrick Bourne to develop even more. He just had his first full offseason as an NFL player and it looks like he is having fun. You see him courtside at Celtic's games and I enjoy seeing him take on that leadership role in Bill Belichick's offense. Hunter Henry and Damien Harris will also have greater roles despite having productive years for the Patriots in 2021. Devante Parker will take on the role as the "X-receiver" for the Pats, but I still look for Belichick to add a veteran receiver whether it be Odell Beckham Jr. or through a trade. I can't see Jones taking a step back in year two, but I would like to see him be more aggressive as a downfield passer and take ownership of this offense (as I talked about earlier). Jones is a perfect fit in Bill Belichick's system, and I see the Patriots being even better in his second season.
Zach Wilson QB Jets
Of all the second-year quarterbacks, Zach Wilson is the one I see taking that "Joe Burrow step" in his sophomore campaign. He has continuity in Mike LaFleur's system and Joe Douglas has done a phenomenal job at surrounding him with young weapons. His chemistry is only going to get better with his fellow second-year weapons, Elijah Moore and Michael Carter. Not to mention the addition of Laken Tomlinson and the return of Mekhi Beckton will help Wilson be more patient in 2022. In the draft, the Jets added Garrett Wilson (my number one receiver) and Breece Hall (my number two running back) to the offense. They also quietly added CJ Uzomah and Jeremy Ruckert to the squad at the tight end position. This offense is so much better and Wilson has had his first full offseason to prepare. While the AFC East is looking really good this year, I could see Wilson leading the Jets to a wildcard spot. The three areas I'm looking for Wilson to improve on is: patience in the pocket, deep ball consistency, and fewer interceptions. With his improved offensive line, I anticipate him feeling more comfortable with letting plays develop. His improved receiving core will also allow him to be more aggressive downfield, and fewer interceptions will come with more experience.