Coming off of a playoff game where he was outdueled by fellow 5* Georgia recruit Justin Fields, the public seems to be digging a bit more into Trevor Lawrence as a prospect. Why is he considered a “generational talent”? Why did he have a “bad game” against Ohio State? Many are starting to question that top prospect label for him, when in fact, the holistic view of his college career still puts him as the greatest QB I have ever scouted. I’ve bee doing this since 2004, and there are numerous areas where he is the best I have seen.
Trevor Lawrence isn’t perfect. No prospect is. But, he has shown consistency throughout his 3-year career in every facet possible. His performance against Ohio State was far from dominant (Justin Fields earned the dominant tag) but it was far from a bad game. Lawrence struggled with pressure up the middle, missed a few tough throws in terms of ball placement, and was hindered by a bad gameplan (Read option on 3rd and 1?). When the reins were taken off, he threw some laser passes to the right spot, read the defense presnap well, and manipulated them with his eyes. His 33/48 400 yards 2 touchdown and 1 interception (which was placed in the receivers hands,) stat line doesn’t look bad. It just FEELS like a bad performance because of what Fields (a great prospect and 5* recruit himself,) did. Let’s break down each scoutable trait for a QB per an NFL prospect form and see why he is the best.
Trevor Lawrence will enter the NFL in the top tier of arm strength for NFL quarterbacks. He won’t quite be on Patrick Mahomes/Aaron Rodgers NFL level yet, but I would say he is in the Matthew Stafford/Josh Allen tier. Arm strength is measured in two ways. The most important is the zip on the ball and how quickly it gets to a target. With the time to step into his passes, his passes cut through defenses extremely quick with excellent zip. For example, his 26-yard TD pass to Cornell Powell is an incredible example of his high end arm strength and zip. It is one area that puts him above my previous top graded quarterback, Andrew Luck. The other piece to arm strength is downfield passing. He won’t be rocketing the ball 70 yards on one knee like JaMarcus Russell did, but Lawrence can throw the deep ball with a good arc. Once again, he may not be top tier, but it is what is needed in the NFL.
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Lawrence isn’t at the top of my all-time list of arm strength (though, many at the top were huge busts,) but he is on the top of my high end overall grades when sorting by arm strength.
Accuracy and ball placement is one of those traits you really need coming into the NFL to be productive immediately, and Lawrence really excels at it for the most part. Though he plays from the shotgun, the offense is pretty tailored to the NFL with a substantive amount of routes in the route tree and usually 4 to 5 progressions per play. This can make accuracy a bit tricky at the college level due to the mental side of knowing what each player is doing (we will get to that later).
Lawrence is very good at putting the ball where his receiver can get it but the defender cannot. He knows when to place sideline throws back shoulder, inside slants low and away, and how to lead his receiver for YAC when it is called for. This is more advanced than any quarterback prospect in this class in terms of the variety of throws Lawrence is accurate on, and shows EXACTLY what he can do at the next level.
The one area Lawrence can struggle with is trying TOO hard to place the ball where the defender won’t have a shot. This leads to some overthrows in all of the facets listed before. When he presses, he will pull the trigger a bit quickly and lead the receiver too much that they can’t catch it. It is an issue, but one that only needs a bit of tweaking to really hone in for the NFL.
Mobility is an area where Trevor Lawrence shines. He won’t be Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray, but he has taken over numerous games on the ground as needed for his team to win. See the read option touchdown run where he outruns Ohio State LB Baron Browning. More importantly, Lawrence is natural in the pocket at evading the rush and moving to his left or right as needed. In today’s NFL, you need a QB at least mobile enough to move outside the pocket when it collapses and be a threat to run for a first down. Lawrence is a great combination of this. I would guess he will have 4.7 timed speed, which is much better than most QBs his size.
Mental Game Management
This area is where Lawrence earns his top grade. Lawrence does more pre-snap and post-snap with reading a defense and using his eyes to manipulate that defense than I have ever graded in college. Seriously, he is doing things 85% of NFL starters can’t do. Let’s break down a few different scenarios:
1. He identifies the defense pre-snap and knows where to go with the football, and it isn’t a quick pass
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Against weaker defenses, this happens a lot, Lawrence reads the defense, and he knows which player he wants to throw the ball to. He will snap the ball, and start at progression 2 about 75% of the time. Move to progression 3 when he needs more time. Snap back to progression 1, which he hasn’t looked at, and immediately throw the pass. Safeties don’t expect it, they aren’t even worrying about the target Lawrence picked out pre-snap. And if a team is in zone, any cheating player gets burned easy. Once defenses catch wise a bit, he starts looking at progression 1 first, then moving away from it to fool them. It is magical to watch.
2. He identifies the defense pre-snap, but has options for his pass
This can happen if there is a blitz that needs his attention, or some balanced man coverage against better teams. He will go through normal progressions, and unlike most college QBs, he often has 4-5 progressions on the play. He doesn’t linger too long in one spot. This also works if the reads are cut down by blitz and he is booting by choice or by the blitz design. It is likely what he will do in the NFL, and he does it well.
3. He doesn’t identify the defense pre-snap
This doesn’t happen often, but teams like Ohio State or 2019 LSU gave Lawrence problems with heavy blitz disguises and changing man/zone looks in the same formation. He’ll stay cool in these situations and usually opt for the check down. When he has to mount a comeback, things can go array. Lawrence will press and it can lead to inefficiency. He rarely makes a bad mental choice though, which is pretty remarkable in and of itself. When blitzes come from unexpected place (like Ohio State up the middle late,) it will give him trouble, but those situations are rar.
Reading NFL defenses will be harder, but Lawrence generally can do it well and knows how to mentally manipulate that defense after the fact. He gets my top grade in this area in terms of any QB I have scouted.
Trevor Lawrence was productive. It may not be the eye popping Joe Burrow numbers or Kellen Moore at Boise State, but he has worked within the offense and been productive enough to put his team in a position to win. Production isn’t a red flag, and it isn’t a red flag for my top 30 or so scouted QBs in the 16 years I’ve done this. People may point to completion percentage issues or that he isn’t tossing 400-500 yard games regularly, but he isn’t in an offense where that is called for.
It is hard for me to critically assess this area, but listening to him after wins, after losses, and in big spots, Lawrence is the type of quarterback I would want to play for. His push to play this season and not opt out is a sign of his competitiveness, and I haven’t heard one bad thing about him as a leader.
He is beyond prototypical QB size. Listed at 6’6, 220, Lawrence is huge and can even be a punishing runner due to this. He is a monster back in the pocket and super hard to bring down. He may not have the girth of a Ben Roethlisberger, but Lawrence often looks like that in the pocket.
I can’t truly assess this, but once again, I have not heard one negative aspect with his character.
Football Intelligence (FBI)
Overall, Trevor Lawrence understands the game of football well. He knows what every player on his team is doing every single play. Lawrence appears to work closely on the gameplan, will correct teammates if they are in the wrong spot, and even change plays at the line of scrimmage. He reads defenses well a large majority of the time and knows what it takes to put his team in a position to win. He ranks highly in FBI and has that natural feel for the game you expect from a top player.
Since 2004, Trevor Lawrence earned my highest grades ever in Mental Game Management and FBI. He received top 5 grades from me in Accuracy, and the combination of Mobility & Size. His arm strength is among the Top 5 of prospects who turned into great pros. I’m sure Competitiveness/Toughness and Character would be at or near the top as well if I graded those. All of this, and a solid Production score to boot, makes him the greatest QB I have ever scouted. His bad games aren’t that bad. His good games are GREAT. The box score never does him justice and he will be an NFL STAR.