A couple things happened on Sunday to Jacksonville quarterback (QB) Trevor Lawrence. He experienced his first loss ever and he revealed why he will become a bust.
Since before the draft, I have been screaming through the keys on my keyboard, that Lawrence does not have what it takes. I was so sure of myself prior to the draft, I went as far as to put a 90 percent bust rate on him.
However, after watching his first NFL game against Houston, I am even more sure of myself. Granted, Lawrence is one of the more difficult players I have ever evaluated.
His size and cannon for a right arm is what makes him challenging, because that is what the free world has fallen in love with. However, it is all the little things that have shown me he has no chance of actually succeeding in the NFL.
The first big clue was that he led the nation last year at Clemson with 87 screen passes (PFF College). As I watched every one of his passes last season, I noticed he did two things extremely well – – and one thing very poorly. He was great at throwing short and deep passes, but he really struggled at the intermediate route level, not throwing to receivers until either they were were open or not throwing until after they made their break.
Houston cashed in on that Sunday by picking him off three times – – all in the intermediate route level. Houston’s three interceptions against Lawrence matched their total amount of interceptions they had as a team all of last season.
I will be the first to admit Lawrence had some great looking passes Sunday. However, he then reminded me why I have steadily believed he will be a bust all along.
Trevor Lawrence lacks rhythm as a leader. He is like a drummer who is off a beat too often.
I saw it in his first two preseason games against Cleveland and New Orleans, and I saw it again against Houston. It shows up in the stat line too. In those two preseason games, Lawrence was 5/13 converting third downs and on opening day he was 6/14. For every great looking pass he threw, there was another that sailed high or one where it looked like he had a brain fart. For example, the interception Lawrence locked in with and telegraphed into double coverage on the left side of the field.
For every beautiful pass he zipped perfectly right between coverages, there were several other short passes his receivers could not handle because he lacked touch.
However, the one pass that proved to me why Lawrence is a bust was this one.
It is not like Lawrence did not see the defender – – he was starring at him the whole time and there was not a receiver anywhere around him. These kinds of passes will not go away either. This is not a rookie thing. These are momentary complete lapses of judgement that will continuously show up.
He threw three picks and he flirted with five with two other dangerous looking passes – – it is these kinds of passes that will get everybody in Jacksonville’s building eventually fired, and it will get Lawrence on his second NFL team sort of like QB Jeff George.
George was another big, strong armed first pick of the draft once upon a time, who never could put it all together either. George had arm everyone fell in love with – – but also the lack of judgement that caused him to bounce around the league on five different teams, while throwing 154 career touchdowns and just about as many interceptions (113).
Lawrence does not fit Jacksonville. As the team’s leader, he has developed little to no synergy with his eligible receivers with the exception of Marvin Jones. With Lawrence at the helm, Jacksonville looks like an orchestra playing seven different songs at the same time – – and they did not look like that in the preseason when back-up C.J Beathard was in the game. This proves to me the problem is not the play calling; the problem is Lawrence. He just does not bring a steady rhythm or tempo to the offense as their leader. The only thing that gave Jacksonville and the Lawrence led offense any distinct look and feel of rhythm, was at the end of the game on that last touchdown drive when Jacksonville was up against the game clock.
Looking back, the same thing showed at Clemson too – – but it was better covered up there. In the NFL, it has been exposed right off the bat – – and defenses will continue to expose it.
Lawrence really does have a cannon for an arm, but it’s a loose cannon.
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, Mike Tannenbaum, 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.