Scouting Report: QB Trevor Lawrence 6’6” 220 (Clemson)
Lawrence is a taller, lanky, graceful, and smooth-looking quarterback with a strong arm, good accuracy, touch, and athleticism who is extremely technically sound. All-American “golden boy” in every sense. Field general feel to him. Beat teams in college with his arms and legs. Looks mechanically and technically well coached from an early age. At times looks too mechanical, borderline robotic. The type who will shine at pro days and workouts. Has that stuff down cold. Operates exclusively out of shut-gun formation. Tends to look most comfortable between the 20s when he can do his regular routine by clapping his hands for snap, play-action, bounce around (happy feet) in the pocket, occasionally pump fake, and pick defenses apart after identifying his target. Has good height to see the field. Good poise and maintained downfield focus.
Does not seem to get rattled by pressure in his face. Did not seem to depend on timing routes whatsoever, which are a way of life in the NFL where defenses are faster and more complex. He had to see it developed or developing first before he unloaded. Tends to work out of the pocket, but showed he can effectively throw on target when forced to roll out either direction. Can also step up and rifle. Regularly and constantly uses play-action and pump fakes to freeze defenses in place for a split second to gain a downfield advantage. Big wind up. Long armed. Elongated throwing motion. Cannon for an arm. Big league arm. Can bomb it, drill it or lay off and just lob it in there. Great accuracy and touch.
Trevor Lawrence can throw the ball all over the field. My main concerns are he tends to wait to identify open targets before unloading and tends to lock in at times before delivery, which he has been able to get away with at the college level. Also shows the ability to look off the first target and go somewhere else with it too. Will take off and run. Long-strider. Willing to bang around with defenders. Not a slider at all. Inside the 10, he LOVES to call his own number, play-action, and run it in himself. Shows some emotion — can get fired up. Good leadership skills. Showed consistent and productive stats all three years at Clemson. I like a lot about his game, has great raw skills and tools, but there will be a prolonged adjustment period for him coming into a rebuilding team, learning a new system with a new cast of characters, and competing against faster and much more complex defensive systems.
Daniel Kelly’s Draft Board: First Round (but I would not take him unless I was going to play Al Davis style of bombs away deep ball offense that showcases his cannon for an arm).
Probability of being a bust: High
If I were a GM, this is the question I need to be answered in my mind about Trevor Lawrence: Does he have a sense of entitlement, and if so how much of a sense of entitlement does he have? (This is critically important and it has a lot to do with why top-rated QBs and players, in general, have failed in the past).
My Top 10 concerns about Lawrence: (I believe unless he has put in an Al Davis bombs away offense and surrounded by nothing but speed receivers – I believe he will be a bust. Whoever drafts him must tailor a system around his strengths for him to be successful).
- The picture of him holding the handgun on the Internet.
- He exclusively operated out of the shotgun formation at Clemson. It will be a serious adjustment if an NFL team plans on lining him up under center.
- Inability to set his feet in the pocket. Tends to bounce around. In scouting, this is called, “Happy Feet.”
- I believe he has been manipulating college-level defenses through his mechanics. I seriously question if he is using constant play-action fakes and pump fakes to momentarily freeze defenses to cover up for an inability and inexperience to deliver well enough and consistently enough on timing routes, which will be required at the NFL level against bigger, faster, and much more complex defenses. If he cannot throw timing routes in the NFL, he will be exposed early and often.
- Tendency to wait for receivers to be open or coming open before he decides to throw. Again this suggests an inability and/or inexperience to throw timing routes.
- What if the team he goes to does not have a strong running game as Clemson did? Will his constant play-action fake then become a wasted motion? Will it expose his inability or lack of inexperience to effectively throw timing routes? Play-action fakes work when they are used occasionally and are often most effective when a strong running game is first established — it is not something that works as well if it is used every time a quarterback drops back. It will wear-out.
- Tendency to sometimes lock-in with receivers or lock-in with the first option.
- Big elongated throwing motion.
- At Clemson, Lawrence looked like a man amongst boys, but I really wonder what he will look like playing on the worst NFL team in 2020 with a new set of characters surrounding him. Now he will look like a man amongst men.
- I wonder if he will be able to hold up physically running and banging around against NFL defenders who will deliver much harder hits. This is a guy who likes to run and shows little inclination to slide.
How NFL defenses will beat him: Strong and tight man-to-man coverages with an exotic mix of constant blitzing off the edge to flush him out of his comfort zone — mixed with blitzes in his face to keep him off balance. Pay no attention to play-action fakes and pump fakes. Stay disciplined in coverages. Make him beat you on timing routes. Play safeties deeper and their focus is taking away deep halves and providing help over the top. Inside the 10, seal the edges and do not let him scamper in off of a play-action (like he loves to do). Make him beat you sitting in the pocket inside the red-zone in tighter quarters.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.