Our quarterback rankings are not likely to move dramatically. Perception is rooted in our genetic code. Cognitive dissonance theory occurs when an individual has two contradicting thoughts. According to social psychologist Leon Festinger, dissonance causes an individual discomfort. The individual seeks to counter this discomfort by becoming constant in their beliefs. The mind seeks consistency and will actively combat opposing viewpoints. Presented with statements contrary to our perceptions create conflict, and we become further entrenched in our stance. We’ve seen this play out as analysts discuss who the 2021 top quarterback is.
Perceptions of the Top Quarterback
The top quarterback in this class fought perception his entire career. The quarterback the draft consigliere has been waiting on burst onto the scene. One can make no more emphatic statement than winning the national championship as a freshman. The narrative was locked into our minds that the “Prince that was Promised” was on the way. The top quarterback had to deal with a change in coaching staff and adversity throughout his career. Through the adversity, he shone and developed as a young quarterback primed to take on the challenge of leading a franchise.
The top quarterback in this class has to deal with uniform scouts. No recent quarterback from his school has seen any measure of success. It is magnified compared to a Clemson quarterback who spent his career in the public spotlight and continues a strong tradition at a championship-winning program. The lack of alumni at the position naturally creates a conflict within our minds. We ignore the prominent tools like downfield accuracy and other world athleticism due to the system’s lack of success in the past. Quarterbacks are the public face of a football program; they become one and the same and are near impossible to separate in our mind’s eye.
The top quarterback in this class came from a member of the Urban Meyer coaching tree. We know the Urban coaching tree, Alex Smith, and not much else. The system features running quarterbacks; based on looks and statistical production, this prospect is no different. The perception magnifies when compared to a quarterback who fits the pro-style mode and follows noted alumni dominating the news cycle. We have seen proven success from the guy who will go first overall. When we lock in our evaluation, it takes imagination to compare the two quarterbacks on a level playing field.
The top quarterback in this class is neck and neck with a generational prospect. The label generational carries weight. The perception created is nearly impossible to combat when a quarterback needs to transfer to a Big Ten school to claim the starting position. It is important to remember that both these quarterbacks can be successful, and we could be debating the opinion many years down the road.
Challenge your perceptions on the 2021 Top Quarterback
Internal conflict is scary, but it also inspires growth. Tua Tagovailoa won the national championship as a freshman, while Justin Herbert adapted to a coaching change. Patrick Mahomes battled perception about Texas Tech’s lack of history developing an NFL quarterback in a class overshadowed by DeShaun Watson and Mitch Trubisky. Jared Goff looked to continue in Aaron Rodgers’ footsteps from Cal while Dak Prescott was a draft afterthought. Lastly, Russell Wilson reached the sport’s pinnacle as Super Bowl champion and is well on his way to far eclipse the generational Andrew Luck statistically. Challenge your perceptions and accept other’s beliefs; we have all been wrong.