Sunday December 3, 2023

NFL Draft 2021: Year of the Quarterback

  • The NFL Draft has grown from an under-the-radar insider event into a television extravaganza.
  • Quarterbacks could very well rule the top half of this year’s first round.
Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks
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The NFL Draft has grown from an under-the-radar insider event into a three-day television extravaganza attracting fans and businesses across the globe. 

Quarterbacks could very well rule the top half of this year’s first round on a level we’ve never seen before, and many of tonight’s top prospects are already becoming bona fide brands.

It’s no secret companies love quarterbacks. Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes earns a reported $7 million per year from endorsements and sponsors pay Tom Brady an estimated $12 million annually. Peyton Manning pops up every time you turn on the TV.

Former Clemson quarterback and presumptive first-overall pick Trevor Lawrence is headed in that direction. He’s already scored a multiyear deal with Gatorade worth up to $2 million a year and signed on to promote crypto exchange Blockfolio. That partnership includes a signing bonus paid in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana. 

More notable endorsements for other projected top picks (all QBs): 

  • Former BYU standout Zach Wilson signed with Nike in April.
  • Ex-Ohio State star Justin Fields signed his first deal with C4 Energy.
  • Chipotle is naming burrito bowls after Fields, Wilson, and Trey Lance of NDSU, including a vegetarian option to coincide with Fields’ vegan diet.

2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith is also seizing this moment. The wide receiver partnered with VRST, a men’s apparel brand launched by Dick’s Sporting Goods in March. Smith is VRST’s first professional athlete endorser. 

In past years, we’ve seen draftees like Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster use the lining of his draft-night blazer to promote his partnership with Pizza Hut. We’ll see what brands take the opportunity to get creative tonight.

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