National Football League

Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence and more: Grading NFL's top 2nd-year QBs

May 25

There are a number of big-name quarterbacks entering their second seasons in the NFL, and excited fan bases will be curious to see how they perform as sophomores.

All are expected to make substantial contributions to their team's winning efforts in 2022. And while it might be difficult to predict how they'll perform, that didn't stop Emmanuel Acho and Marcellus Wiley from giving it a try.

The "Speak For Yourself" cohosts graded each of the second-year star QBs heading into their sophomore slates.

Ranking NFL's sophomore quarterbacks

Marcellus Wiley and Emmanuel Acho rank their confidence level in second-year QBs Zach Wilson, Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance and more.

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Acho's Grade: 6

Acho's thoughts: "Remember last year, 17 interceptions? It was not pretty. [He only threw] 12 TDs and had a 3-14 record. This year though, he gets Doug Pederson. That's why my confidence is above a 5. Doug Pederson was a Super Bowl-winning coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, but you must remember: His first year with Carson Wentz was not pretty. It was his second year that was phenomenal.

"I don't think his first year with Doug Pederson will be anything to write home about. But I do think it will be his first year righting the ship. I think he'll throw about 25 TDs and 14 INT. He has a lot of promise, but he still turns the ball over too much."

Wiley's Grade: 8

Wiley's thoughts: "If he didn't have a Super Bowl-winning head coach, maybe it'd be lower. Trevor Lawrence took some bumps last year. But he's still a tremendous talent, he's going to a get a running game, and then someone adult in the room in terms of leadership. Lawrence is on record saying, ‘I love the camaraderie in the locker room.’ So I think he's taken his natural bump."

Zach Wilson, New York Jets

Acho's Grade: 7

Acho's thoughts: "He's higher than Trevor Lawrence because he has to do a lot less. Robert Saleh's a defensive-minded coach, and that defense got much better. It's his second year as a head coach there. Who did they draft first? Sauce Gardner. They gave him a running back in the second round, and two new wide receivers. Wilson got so much help in the offseason."

Wiley's Grade: 3

Wiley's thoughts: "Did you see him last year? Last season, he was the flavor of the month, and the month was August. And then he got in games, and he was getting tilted. 69.7 was not his completion percentage, but his passer rating. He was giving the ball to the other team. You know how it goes, especially if you start off slow in New York."

Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers 

Acho's Grade: 2

Acho's thoughts: "I'm being nice with this one. From everything I've heard from people within the locker room, and outside the locker room, he just ain't it. He just ain't got it. There's a reason they call him ‘one play Trey’ and a reason he only started one game. The Niners chose to play Jimmy Garoppolo with a broken thumb over their top-three first-round pick. There's a reason for that."

Wiley's Grade: 5

Wiley's thoughts: "I've heard exactly what you've heard, but there's also a part of me that's like ‘yo, this dude is a talent.’ Everyone also talks about how his ceiling is so high, and maybe the 49ers' circumstance is why Trey Lance hasn't been on the field in full. If we're on a team that has Super Bowl aspirations, we don't have time to slow down. I don't know if they trusted the rookie to do that. He's had a season to go through, and offseason to come back, I think they think this is the guy for them. But I don't know what to think."

Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Acho's Grade: 5

Acho's thoughts: "Your reasoning for Trey Lance is mine with Justin Fields. He has no help around him. If I didn't like him, my grade would be significantly lower. They have no change of pace at running back, and no change of pace at wide receiver. Why does one pace matter? It's easy to plan against as a defense. He has a defensive-minded coach in his first year in Matt Eberflus. 

Wiley's Grade: 7

Wiley's thoughts: "I have him at a seven because of his playmaking. When the play breaks down, that activates him. Last year, he had a stretch run where he won two of three games, and he was improvising. When he can't see it, he can still make it happen. This situation does not set up for ultimate success, but I think the playmaking will stand out this year while they build around him."

Mac Jones, New England Patriots

Acho's Grade: 9

Acho's thoughts: "A quarterback is a reflection of his team, and a team is a reflection of its QB. He's a nine. I don't think he has much help either, but he knows what to do with the limited help that he has. He will find a way to make sure the Patriots stay up top in the AFC East. They were second last year, I anticipate them getting more wins. I judge my QB on wins, and I think he'll have the most of the sophomore QBs."

Wiley's Grade: 9

Wiley's thoughts: "I'm with you. With Bill Belichick there, he'll protect Jones while he blossoms. He made the Pro Bowl, and teammates are talking about his intangibles. You always bet on character and a worker, especially with that level of talent. Mac Jones will ball out this year."


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