We’re four weeks into the 2020 college football season, and already, positional draft boards are shuffling for the 2021 NFL Draft. One position that’s remained predictably stable at the top is the quarterback. Just to provide a status report, yes, the Clemson Tigers signal-caller Trevor Lawrence is still QB1.
Granted, Lawrence’s top competitors haven’t yet hit the field; Justin Fields will join the Ohio State Buckeyes for the first time against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on October 24, and Trey Lance plays his only game of the year this Saturday, against the Central Arkansas Bears.
In the meantime, Lawrence has already played two games for Clemson; both wins against Wake Forest and The Citadel. In those games, he’s reaffirmed a status that was already set in stone: Lawrence is QB1 in the 2021 NFL Draft, and one NFL team will be very lucky to have him.
Trevor Lawrence reaffirms QB1 status early in 2020 season
Through two games, Lawrence has been producing at a torrid pace. He’s currently completing over 80 percent of his passes (30 for 37) and has 514 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions while averaging 14 yards per attempt.
Clemson is yet to face a tough test. Their first matchup against a ranked opponent occurs in two weeks, against the No. 8-ranked Miami Hurricanes. Still, Lawrence has looked impeccable, bringing back the diverse mixture of traits that first made him a legitimate draft prospect two years ago.
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In regard to Lawrence’s traits, it’s almost easier to explain what he doesn’t have. Lawrence has a looming 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame, which he compounds with outstanding athleticism and mobility. He has excellent poise in the pocket, as well as fluid, natural passing mechanics. To top it off, Lawrence has an extremely powerful and elastic arm, which generates velocity with ease.
As far as quarterbacks go, Lawrence is at the far end of the spectrum in terms of physical ability, both as a runner and a passer. At one of the most important positions in football, simply being able to do more is a very valuable skill. It’s one that Lawrence has, and he’s again making that clear in what will likely be his last college football campaign.
An area for Lawrence to target in the 2020 season
As Dalton Miller pointed out before the season, Lawrence, while a very good prospect, wasn’t pinpoint accurate in all ranges of the field, and going into 2020, that would undoubtedly be something for him to work on. After charting Lawrence, Miller found that he came in behind most of 2020’s NFL rookie signal-callers in terms of precision.
It’s early, but Lawrence does appear to be improving in that area. Through two weeks, he’s shown impressive accuracy in the intermediate and deep ranges of the field. His sheer throwing velocity allows him to hit deep windows before they’re closed off by looming safeties. His arm elasticity also gives him the touch necessary to adjust the trajectory based on situations.
Why the Clemson QB doesn’t have to worry about Fields and Lance
In any other year, the QB1 mantle would often be contested between multiple signal-callers. But Lawrence doesn’t have to worry about Fields, Lance, or any other quarterback — at least not yet.
Other quarterbacks like Kyle Trask — who had a standout six-touchdown performance in his first game — may make bids to enter the top group, but until they have a chance to show consistency, it’s Lawrence, Fields, and Lance. Lawrence has perhaps the most refined skill set, and mentally, he’s at the front of the group as well, though all three passers are sharp.
With that being said, Fields has to show in 2020 that he can put touch on his throws more consistently, and Lance, while a rare talent with plenty of upside in his own right, will have his outlook clouded by a one-game season, and his analysis will be based far more on projection than established growth.
In a way, NFL teams are lucky to have three modern-age quarterbacks, such as Lawrence, Fields, and Lance, available in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, at the moment, Lawrence is ahead of both, and he has a decent head start.
In the modern NFL, versatility is an increasingly valuable trait in a quarterback. All signal-callers will have varying learning curves at the NFL level, but a quarterback who comes into the league with Lawrence’s athleticism, throwing talent, and natural feel for the position is rare.
Quarterbacks have to create for themselves and elevate those around them, and Lawrence does that. He’s been doing that his whole career, and in 2020, he’s simply picking up where he left off.