Last year did not go according to plan for the 2021 NFL Draft's top picks.
Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, respectively selected No. 1 and 2 by the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, finished their inaugural campaign buried down the bottom of the league leaderboard in quarterback rating and yards per pass attempt.
However, it's far too soon to count out the young passers.
NFL.com's Bucky Brooks broke down his top-10 breakout candidates among second-year players in a piece published Friday. Lawrence topped the list as Brooks, like many others, gave the former Clemson standout a pass for Urban Meyer's disastrous coaching regime and expects him to "blossom" under new head coach Doug Pederson.
"The Super Bowl-winning head coach and respected quarterback guru has upgraded the talent around Lawrence with an experienced collection of pass-catchers (Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram) joining veteran Marvin Jones on the perimeter," Brooks wrote." In addition, the Jaguars strengthened the offensive line to give No. 16 more clean pockets to throw from while collecting completions in a quarterback-friendly scheme. With better players and coaches around the Jaguars’ QB1, Duval County could see All-Pro-caliber flashes from Lawrence in 2022."
Wilson tallied a measly nine passing touchdowns and 55.6 percent completion rate in 13 games last year. However, Brooks lauded the Jets' revamped offense as cause for optimism.
"With a young collection of talented pass-catchers (Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Garrett Wilson) and runners (Michael Carter and Breece Hall) adding more explosiveness to the unit, the excuses are off the table for the 2021 No. 2 overall pick if he fails to put up solid numbers for Gang Green this season. Considering how Wilson has flashed at times in the Jets’ quarterback-friendly system, it is easy to see why the buzz is building in the Big Apple."
The case for Lawrence progressing is easy. Perceived as a can't-miss prospect just a year ago, he gets a fresh slate with a new coaching staff and improved pass-catchers.
While Wilson is a raw talent on a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 2010, he's gotten in better shape this offseason and is surrounded by emerging skill-position talent.
Both young quarterbacks are in a position to develop significantly in 2022.