I express a lot of opinions on the internet, which inevitably means that I'm wrong on the internet quite a bit. (Anyone who read my 20th-century quarterback rankings piece recently and isn't an Oklahoma fan probably agrees with this.)
However, sometimes I'm right, and I should celebrate that. So allow me to say, I TRIED TO TELL YOU ABOUT MAC JONES. In a small sample size late in 2019, Jones was so much better than he was given credit for; in a larger sample in 2020, all he did was lead the country in Total QBR, finish third in the Heisman voting and lead the best Alabama offense -- maybe the best Alabama team -- ever. He'll likely become a first-round draft pick in a few more weeks. Did he have an amazing supporting cast around him? Of course. But he steered the Bama ship impeccably.
So who's the next Mac Jones?
We're going to attack that question in a few different ways. First, we're going to look at QBs who thrived, perhaps under the radar, late in the 2020 season. Then we're going to look at new starting quarterbacks who made a decent impression in small sample sizes. Finally, we're going to look beyond the QB position and form a full lineup of new starters with exciting samples of work.
2020's late-season surges
Joe Burrow's first season as LSU's starting quarterback in 2018 was bumpy, but he surged late in the year, ranking fourth in Total QBR over his last four games with a 67% completion rate. He torched UCF for 394 yards and four scores in the Fiesta Bowl. LSU's full embrace of something more spread-like in 2019 obviously worked wonders, but he was already beginning to flash high upside before that.
Similarly, over his last four games in 2019, Jones ranked third in Total QBR. His interceptions against Auburn were costly, but those were almost the only mistakes he had made.
Late-season surges aren't guarantees of success; after all, one of the quarterbacks ahead of Burrow in late 2018 was Georgia's Jake Fromm, and while Kentucky's Lynn Bowden (second in QBR late in 2019) was really fun, it's safe to guess he probably wouldn't have been a Heisman contender had he returned to play QB in 2020.