Kellen Mond Is NFL Draft's Sleeper QB Who Can Start Right AwayApril 28, 2021
A few quarterback-needy teams won't have a shot at the top signal-calling prospects, but those clubs can still find a starter Friday on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL draft.
Leading up to the event, analysts have highlighted Trevor Lawrence's processing capacity, Zach Wilson's arm talent, Justin Fields' physical tools, Trey Lance's pre-snap intelligence and Mac Jones' experience in a pro-style offense.
Kellen Mond has a splash of all their strengths. He didn't produce the eye-popping numbers that compare to the top-tier quarterback prospects, but the Texas A&M product has shown enough to warrant consideration early in the second round as the sixth player selected at the position.
"There's upside there," an NFC scout told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. "If anything, I would have liked to see him let loose a little more."
Mond didn't throw more than 24 touchdown passes in a single season, but he limited turnovers, recording fewer than 10 interceptions every year. With that level of production, critics may view him as a game manager, but the former Aggie had some wow moments as well.
Whether inside the pocket or rolling out to evade pressure, Mond can effortlessly unleash tight spirals downfield. He's able to hit a bull's-eye while on the move:
Mond didn't complete these throws as routinely as Wilson did this past season, but he can improvise if necessary. His arm strength allows him to thread the needle to pass-catchers downfield even if the throw is a little late. The 21-year-old can deliver deep strikes with confidence.
When plays break down, Mond can keep the ball and move the chains with his legs. In four years as a collegian, he recorded 1,609 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. The 6'3", 211-pounder isn't the most elusive on foot, but he forces defensive linemen to respect him as a ball-carrier.
Despite the NFL's shift toward adopting more spread offensive schemes from the collegiate ranks, the term "pro-ready quarterback" still holds weight.
Mond will enter the league as one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the class. He took over the starting job as a true freshman in 2017 and held the position through 2020. Over the last three years, he earned head coach Jimbo Fisher's trust.
While Fisher pointed out Mond's room for improvement regarding timing on intermediate throws, he had plenty of praise for the QB, per Fowler: "Fisher adds he gave Mond all the responsibility a quarterback could handle, from setting protections to audibles to deciphering third and fourth reads post-snap."
Mond doesn't just have a lot of playing experience (44 starts). He also understands defensive schemes, possesses the football IQ to adjust the offense before the snap and goes through his reads. His ability to process all of that information should appeal to teams that want a quick study at the most important position.
Fisher also said Mond "helped change the culture" at Texas A&M. With the latter at the helm, the program went 26-10 over the last three campaigns. He's a battle-tested winner.
Overall, Mond checks off boxes that should elevate him on the depth chart early in his career. Of course, he must land in the right spot for an opportunity to play right away.
Fisher told Fowler that he's talked to "10 to 15 teams extensively" about Mond's time at College Station. Three clubs outside the top 10 stand out as the most sensible landing spots.
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the New England Patriots have called teams with picks in the top 10, and they may have an interest in Fields.
If he isn't available or New England doesn't find a trade partner, the Patriots could take a look at Mond in the second round. That would give him a chance to succeed Cam Newton, who re-signed with the club on a one-year deal.
Mond would be a good fit with the Patriots because the offense features two solid pass-catching tight ends in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, who can each rack up yards in the middle of the field.
Derrik Klassen of NBC Sports charted Mond's pass attempts in four 2019 contests and the entire 2020 campaign. The Texas A&M product carved up defenses between the numbers, in the seam areas where tight ends run most of their routes.
Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera said, "there will be competition" for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's starting job. As of now, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke and Steven Montez are set to push the 38-year-old through the offseason.
On Day 2 of the draft, Washington could add a high-upside quarterback to the group. Heinicke is the only signal-caller under team control beyond 2021. At 28 years old, he's started in just one regular-season contest and one playoff game.
With his strong arm, Mond can stretch the field via wideout Terry McLaurin. Furthermore, he would have solid intermediate passing targets in running back Antonio Gibson and wideout Curtis Samuel, who recorded catch rates of 81.8 and 79.4 percent, respectively, last season.
The Chicago Bears reportedly made a strong offer to the Seattle Seahawks for quarterback Russell Wilson before they tabbed Andy Dalton as the starter for the upcoming season. The middling NFC North squad doesn't have a long-term plan for the position.
Dalton signed a one-year deal with the team. On the depth chart, he's ahead of Nick Foles, who didn't solidify a role as a starter last season, throwing for 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions in nine contests.
With the 20th pick, general manager Ryan Pace may want to address shallow areas at right tackle or cornerback, but he could land his quarterback of the future in Mond at No. 52.
Mond would provide another dimension to the Bears offense with his athleticism. Head coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor can incorporate run-pass option designs with running back David Montgomery, who rushed for 1,070 yards while averaging 4.3 yards per carry in 2020.
Mond doesn't have first-round buzz, but his traits and grasp of responsibilities under center will push him up draft boards Friday. If he lands with a team that has a short-term starter, his progression from draft sleeper to first-string quarterback could happen sooner than later.