NFL.com analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at some of college football's top players for 2020. This is the eighth in a series of scouting reports that will run throughout the offseason.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence heads into the 2020 season as the face of college football. It's very possible he could pull off the CFB triple crown in the next year: win the Heisman Trophy and the national championship and then become the first overall pick in the NFL draft. I can't remember this much hype about a prospect at the quarterback position since Andrew Luck was entering his final season at Stanford in 2011. I recently had the opportunity to study three of Lawrence's games. Here's my First Look report:
Height, weight: 6-foot-6, 220 pounds (school measurements).
2019 statistics: 268 of 407 (65.8 percent) for 3,665 yards, 36 TDs and 8 INTs; 103 carries for 563 yards (5.5 average), 9 TDs.
Game tape watched: Texas A&M (Sept. 7, 2019), South Carolina (Nov. 30, 2019), Ohio State (Dec. 28, 2019).
What I liked: Lawrence has an ideal blend of size, athleticism, arm strength and toughness. He's very urgent in his movement during his drop and he uses that suddenness to escape when pressured. Lawrence has a compact delivery, but he can adjust his arm angle and get the ball out even more quickly when needed. He's able to drive the ball outside the numbers, and he's also unafraid to work in the middle of the field. He flashes the ability to layer the ball over second-level defenders and in front of third-level defenders. He throws with excellent anticipation and timing.
The junior signal-caller is a creative playmaker when the play breaks down and he is very dangerous on designed quarterback runs. He will lower his shoulder to take on defenders, but his speed is his greatest asset as a runner. His overall competitiveness and toughness are evident in each game I viewed. He will hang in to take big hits from the pocket and he will fight for the extra yard as a ball-carrier.
Where he needs to improve: His biggest area to focus on heading into the 2020 season is his accuracy and ball placement. His completion percentage is very good (65.8%), but that stat isn't always a fair indicator of accuracy at the collegiate level. He has too many underthrown deep balls from the pocket and his placement when on the move is spotty. If he works to square his shoulders when outside the pocket, that should really improve his accuracy in that department. Also, I love how quickly he gets to the second and third read in his progression with his eyes, but there are plays where his feet aren't married to his vision and that affects his accuracy.
Biggest takeaway: Lawrence has all of the necessary tools to emerge as an elite quarterback at the next level. However, there is still some development needed. He's not at the same level of consistency that Luck displayed during his time at Stanford. I'm not talking about the statistics -- I'm talking about the overall command and ownership of every key situation. I think Lawrence can -- and will get -- to that level, but he's not quite there yet.
He reminds me of: There really isn't a comparison for Lawrence because of his unique measurables and athleticism. However, if you look at every current starting NFL quarterback, I believe he compares most favorably to a man who preceded him at Clemson, Deshaun Watson. Both players have lean, athletic frames and they are both capable of making winning plays from inside and outside the pocket. They can both drive the ball effectively and they share a competitiveness that's obvious on tape. While they are effective runners, they find success on the ground in different ways. Watson is more elusive, while Lawrence has more pure speed. Watson has emerged as one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL, and Lawrence has the upside to join him in that group in the near future.