By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Lawrence was the top recruit in the nation coming out of high school, and Clemson won the fierce recruiting war to land him. That success paid off immediately, with the freshman taking college football by storm in 2018. Lawrence became the starting quarterback over Kelly Bryant and completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,280 yards with 30 touchdowns and four interceptions. Lawrence closed out his spectacular freshman season by beating Alabama in the National Championship game.
The Tigers lost a lot of talent to the 2019 NFL Draft, including their star-studded defensive line, but Lawrence put the Tigers on his back in 2019 and led them to another appearance in the college football playoff. Lawrence led a fourth-quarter comeback to beat Ohio State before coming up short against LSU. In 2019, Lawrence completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,665 yards, 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also ran for 563 yards and nine touchdowns.
Lawrence dominated in 2020, continuing his consistent play from 2019 and 2018, and completing 69 percent of his passes for 3,153 yards, 24 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also rushed for eight touchdowns. From a physical skill-set standpoint, Lawrence is the complete package for the NFL, possessing good size, a powerful accurate arm, and running ability.
Lawrence is a pro-ready passer. His accuracy is exceptional, and he can consistently place the ball perfectly downfield. Lawrence can fit passes into windows the size of a shoe box, and he can drop in strikes past defensive backs. Even though Lawrence would throw into some tight windows, he displayed good decision-making and did a great job of avoiding turnovers. Lawrence will place passes where his receivers can make a play on the ball and avoid giving defensive backs opportunities to pick passes off. The tall Lawrence sees the field extremely well, and he has advanced field vision. Lawrence possesses the composure to stand erect in the pocket and does not get rattled by the pass rush.
One trait that really sets Lawrence apart and makes him a truly rare prospect is his deep-ball accuracy. He did a phenomenal job of locating his passes downfield for a variety of receivers to beat coverage and lead his weapons to big plays. With his cannon for an arm and his precision passing deep downfield, defenses can’t crowd the box, as Lawrence will make them pay. Thus, Lawrence’s passing ability could really open things up for the rushing attack in the NFL and lead to more success for his team that does not show up in his personal stats.
Lawrence is a good fit for any NFL offense because his powerful arm would allow him to work in a vertical offense and his accuracy on short passes and ability to get the ball out quick lets him fit in a West Coast system. Lawrence has a quick release and a fast arm whip. His internal clock is advanced as well, letting him get the ball out quickly and not put extra pressure on his offensive line. When time allowed, he would demonstrate the patience to let routes develop, and he did not panic if his first read was covered. Lawrence is a calm and poised passer capable of ripping apart a defense from the pocket.
On top of elite passing talent, Lawrence has excellent mobility and athleticism. He used his quick feet and a burst as a runner to catch collegiate defenses by surprise. On read-option plays, Lawrence showed some toughness to pound the ball up the middle, and he has some power on the ground that makes him effective in short-yardage situations and near the goal line. Lawrence has nice mobility to dodge defenders in the pocket, and he throws well on the run. In the open field, Lawrence is a slippery runner who can dodge tacklers thanks to his straight-line speed to run away from defenses. He will probably be the used much less as a runner as a pro to protect him from injury, but he definitely has the ability to use his legs to convert some first downs when everything is covered or to buy time in the pocket. Lawrence will be a nice asset to help his offensive line.
Team sources who have talked football with Lawrence came away very impressed with his intelligence. They also like his ability to get his team in the right play. Like any college player, Lawrence has some things he could stand to work on for the NFL. Sources say not locking on his first read is one point of improvement. Lawrence could stand to speed up the process of working through his progressions as well.
With his passing ability, mobility, intelligence, toughness and character, Lawrence is a true franchise quarterback and generational prospect. He could be the best quarterback prospect to enter the NFL in the past 20 years. Out of polling sources from 10 teams, the majority felt Lawrence was a better quarterback prospect than Andrew Luck and Lawrence was the best prospect of the last 20 years.
Player Comparison: Ryan Tannehill. Lawrence is a very unique athlete and physical specimen, so he is difficult to compare, but some team sources have suggested Lawrence could be a better version of Tannehill. Keep in mind that Tannehill is a great athlete and played wide receiver at Texas A&M. Lawrence is a rare prospect and is in a category of his own.
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