If you invented a quarterback machine, it would spit out a specimen identical to Trevor Lawrence. 6’6”, 220 lbs, a cannon of a right arm, poise in the pocket, and calmness under pressure. Add an ability to run and ability to make all types of throw, and you have yourself the QB prospect of a generation. Whoever lands with #1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft will land themselves a natural born-winner that has the potential to be an all-time great. No pressure, Trevor.
If there’s one area of his game that needs refinement, it’s that he needs to move on from his first read sooner. Often, he can lock onto his first target and wait for the opportune moment to release. This isn’t the result of a lack of field vision, but his confidence to fit his throws into the tightest of windows. Even in the weak aspects of his game, there are positives to be found. This guy is special.
Let’s take a look at how Lawrence compares to previous #1 overall picks in recent years. We will look at their stats for their last year of college football. It’s worth noting here that Lawrence is a Junior in 2020, returning for his third year of eligibility. Naturally, we would expect a redshirt Senior like Joe Burrow to have a more developed skill-set in his last year in college football. Nevertheless, I think you’ll be impressed at how the numbers look for Sunshine.
Trevor Lawrence: the numbers
|Name||School||Pass yards||Comp %||Pass TDs||INTs||Rush yards||Rush TDs||QBR|
|Jameis Winston||Florida State||3,907||65.3||25||18||65||3||166.5|
Joe Burrow’s incredible final year at LSU stands out above all others. However, what we must remember here is that we are comparing apples and oranges when it comes to Lawrence. Burrow left college football aged 24, more experienced and his game more developed than his peers. To add to that, Burrow emerged seemingly from nowhere to achieve greatness in 2019. Lawrence has put up generational numbers since his freshman year, and is still growing as a prospect.
Lawrence will be just 21 when he enters the league, the same age as Jameis Winston when he entered the NFL in 2015. He has already eclipsed Winston in all aspects of the game. Arguments can be made that he is similarly superior to Jared Goff, who took the LA Rams to the Superbowl in 2018.
The quarterback listed above to whom Lawrence shares most of his attributes is Andrew Luck, a generational talent whose career was cruelly blighted by injury. No quarterback since Luck has generated as much excitement from his freshman year. In 2012, teams had to Suck for Luck. In 2021, they’ll need to Tank for Trevor.
But which teams are most likely to be sitting on the #1 overall pick next April?
The Panthers have everything but the quarterback. They have the best running back in the country, an exciting WR room, and a Head Coach who turned around moribund programs at Temple and Baylor. Matt Rhule could be a smart hire in the long run, but a disrupted off-season will hurt his plans to turn the Panthers’ fortunes around quickly.
Teddy Bridgewater is a short-term solution to the long term problem of replacing Cam Newton. The state of South Carolina knows full well the abilities of the QB at Clemson. What a result it would be for Panthers fans if they can land with a generational talent like Trevor Lawrence. He could be the defining factor that can propel Carolina to another Super Bowl.
The Jaguars offence was so poor in 2019. Gardner Minshew II was a pleasant surprise in an otherwise miserable season for Jacksonville supporters. Doug Marrone’s play-calling was enough to send the most belligerent of toddlers to sleep. Minshew was only ever trusted to sling the ball when the game seemed lost. The Nick Foles experiment failed, and Jacksonville is paying the price for it. $19m this year to be precise.
The imminent departures of Leonard Fournette and Yannick N’gakoue should further weaken the Jaguars on both sides of the ball. The AFC South is home to three franchises striving for play-off football, and Jacksonville isn’t one of those. They seem destined to have a top 3 pick in the Draft.
The short term misery of stinking in 2020 could be replaced by the long term benefit of Sunshine in Duval County.
And for our UK fans, Trevor Lawrence in a Jaguars uniform means that we get a good look at him every year. Everybody wins. Except 31 NFL defences.
The Washington franchise is in need of a re-brand. What better way to do it than with a franchise quarterback? Only the most stubborn of Washington fans will maintain that they have their future QB in Dwayne Haskins. Much like the Arizona Cardinals in 2019, Washington can upgrade a good QB with a great one. It’s a no-brainer. For what it’s worth, it would seem that a move for Justin Fields of Ohio State or Trey Lance of North Dakota State would also be an upgrade at the position.
If Haskins can strike up a rapport with wide receiver Terry McLaurin, they might win themselves out of contention for the Tank for Trevor sweepstakes. In doing so, they would be missing out on the great and keeping the good. In the most important position in all of sport, that can be the difference between an 8-8 team and a Super Bowl contender.
New York Jets
Sam Darnold is brimming with untapped potential. The youngest starting quarterback since the NFL merger in 1970, Darnold is six months younger than this year’s #1 pick Joe Burrow. That fact may be uttered more in New York/New Jersey than “Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard” has been said nationwide.
There is one great, heavy millstone hanging around the neck of Broadway Sam. His name is Adam Gase. Everything Gase touches turns to a dumpster fire, and the budding career of young Sam Darnold is no exception.
A poor year will see Gase lose his job. Three years into Darnold’s rookie deal, would a new Head Coach be willing to gamble his own future on a quarterback who has briefly shown flashes of his true ability? Most likely not.
The New York Jets have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL in 2020, and seem on course for another losing campaign. With Gase, the floor is the limit. If anyone can turn a 6-win team with Le’Veon Bell and Jamal Adams on the roster into the worst in the league, Adam Gase can.
You thought Miami had their quarterback of the future? So did I, and I still hope that they do. However, their newly drafted saviour Tua Tagovailoa is recovering from a traumatic hip injury. A dislocation of the joint with a fracture to boot is the sort of injury you might suffer in a major car crash. The Dolphins are hoping, and banking on, a full recovery. We all wish him a healthy career, even us Jets fans.
Let’s assume that Tua can’t get, or stay, healthy. They have two first round picks in the 2021 Draft. They have a young roster and the long term trajectory of the franchise points upwards. However, a tough schedule could keep this team down to as little as four wins.
If that is the case, Brian Flores could well be persuaded to roll the dice on another quarterback in his third year in Florida. The Dolphins have the Texans’ 1st and 2nd Round picks in the 2021 Draft (thank you, Bill O’Brien), and could utilise them in a trade for Trevor Lawrence should they deem it necessary. If those luscious blonde locks belong anywhere, it’s South Florida.
Tom Scott @downthemannyrd