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ESPN Gives Trevor Lawrence Edge Over Justin Fields As Best Second-Year QB

The Jaguars' second-year passer was given the close nod over his Chicago Bears counterpart.

The debate over the best quarterback from the star-studded 2021 NFL Draft close isn't over. Not even close to it.

With five first-round picks in Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Mac Jones, and Trey Lance, it has always been evident that it would take some strong play to be considered the best in the group.

But through the first 10 weeks of the 2022 season, two of the five quarterbacks have begun to separate themselves. While Lance has dealt with an early season-ending injury and Jones and Wilson have struggled to make a second-year jump, Lawrence and Fields have each seemingly turned the corner in recent weeks.

As a result, it is no surprise to see Lawrence and Fields lead the list of best second-year players at each position via ESPN.

"Your choice for the best second-year quarterback comes down to how much you value a signal-caller's ground gains compared with his passing ability," Aaron Schatz wrote. "Lawrence has had a very typical second-year season, with an expected improvement. He's a normal quarterback, mostly gaining yardage through the air -- he ranks 16th in both Football Outsiders' passing DVOA and ESPN's Total QBR.

"Then there is Justin Fields, whose running ability is dynamic and game-changing. Total QBR really likes quarterback rushing because those runs tend to have very high EPA (expected points added) value. So QBR has Fields higher than Lawrence, putting him 11th overall."

Ultimately, Lawrence has completed 65.2% of his passes for 2,334 yards (6.7 yards per attempt) with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions, along with a passer rating of 89.7. He has also rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Fields has completed 58.9% of his passes for 1,489 yards (7.2 yards per attempt) with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions, along with a passer rating of 86.4. He has also rushed for 749 yards and six touchdowns.

In short, each player has taken an impressive step forward. Lawrence has been better as a passer, but Fields' dangerous running ability makes him worthy of consideration here. Lawrence gets the edge from ESPN because he has been a more consistent passer since Week 1, but there is no doubt that Fields is right on his heels.

"However, Fields has not been a good passer overall this year -- at all. He ranks dead last in passing DVOA among qualifying quarterbacks and 31st in the passing value incorporated into QBR. Even since he started playing much better in a Week 7 win over New England, Fields still has minus-8.7% passing DVOA. If Fields can play like this the rest of the season, the running value will more than outweigh that slightly below-average passing performance," Schatz wrote.

"But if we're naming an all-sophomore team based on the whole season so far and not just the past month, I'm going to give the quarterback slot to Lawrence."

Other second-year players mentioned by ESPN: running back Travis Etienne, who lost out to Rhamondre Stevenson, and cornerback Tyson Campbell, who lost out to Patrick Surtain Jr.