Trevor Lawrence Breakdown: The Prince That Was Promised

The story of Trevor Lawrence is known by now. The top recruit in the 2018 class broke high school records set by DeShaun Watson and led Clemson to a National Championship as a true freshman. From the moment he stepped on campus, he’s been seen as a generational talent and the probable first overall pick. Losing just one game in his two years, the stars are aligned once again for Clemson to make the National Championship game and for Lawrence to win the Heisman this season. As I break down Lawrence, what I thought coming in was confirmed. He’s a rare prospect. The term “can’t miss” is thrown around way too much, but in this case it’s deserved. Assuming he cleans up a few issues, he will become an Andrew Luck type prospect and undoubtedly become the first overall pick in the 2021 draft. Below I break down some of Lawrence’s strengths and weaknesses:

Strengths:

Arm Strength

The ball shoots out of his hand like a cannon and he makes it look so effortless. To compare, Patrick Mahomes’ top throwing speed at the combine was 55 mph and Lawrence’s top throwing speed in 2019 was 61 mph. Whether he’s in the pocket or scrambling, he’s able to get enough juice on the ball to fit throws into tight windows. As you can see below, he can throw it sixty yards in the air while making it look easy. To me, this is his best attribute as there are technical things you can clean up, but you can’t teach the arm strength he possesses.

A casual 60 yard bomb
His fast ball on display here. His fastest throw was faster than Goff’s, Wentz’s, Mahomes’, and Watson’s at their respective combines.
Pressure in his face? Makes no difference when you’ve got a strong arm

Mobility

I’ll break down his mobility into two parts: pure ability as a runner and throwing on the run.

As a runner, he shows great athleticism for a guy who’s listed at 6-6 and 220 pounds. Clemson runs a lot of zone reads and trusts his decision-making to make the right read. When he decides to keep the ball or they run a play designed for him (mostly counters or QB power), he shows speed and good vision to make the big play. For as much as people talk about his natural ability as a passer, his running ability is severely underrated. When the play breaks down, he’s excellent at scrambling and finding ways to pick up extra yardage. He’s never looking to run first, but teams will often blitz linebackers or drop them into coverage due to them being fearful of his arm. When this happens, he tucks the ball down and is able to make a play.

The play that helped Clemson reach the 2020 National title Game. Shows agility and great vision.
May not seem like a big play, but reads the defenders perfectly and follows his blockers. Most QBs here would try to shoot that up the middle if they see the gap or are just reading the first edge defender.
Keeps his eyes down the field but steps up and takes what the defense gives him.
The pocket breaks down and he maneuvers around the defense to pick up extra yardage.
He has that Russell Wilson-like quickness in the pocket that makes it so tough to bring him down.

The second part of his great running ability is the fact he keeps his eyes down the field while scrambling and is able to complete passes on the run. I see too often in college (and sometimes in the pros) that quarterbacks panic under pressure and will run without looking down the field. Lawrence can scramble out to either his left or right and has the arm strength to get the ball to his receivers. As NFL offenses get more creative and put mobile quarterbacks at a premium, Lawrence makes himself that much more valuable with his versatility and athleticism.

He looks like Mahomes on this play. Things break down but he makes the tough throw.
Rolling out to his left, which is difficult for a right-handed quarterback, and delivers a strike.
Accuracy on the rollout. Key to running play-action in the NFL.

Touch and Accuracy

Like a great shooter, when Lawrence gets hot he quite simply does not miss. This is evident on deeper throws that require some touch on the ball. We’ve seen a lot of quarterbacks with rocket arms, but the great ones are able to loft passes over defenders and right on target to their receivers. On these throws, Lawrence is mechanically sound (we’ll get to that later) and as you can see pushes off his back foot rather than solely using his pure arm strength. Quarterbacks who can make these throws, especially down the sideline, are ones you see starting on Sunday’s.

Being an elite quarterback is unachievable without the ability to throw with touch down the field.
Great fade pass
Stays in control after the bad snap and throws a perfect ball

Mechanics/Size

Lawrence 100% passes the eye test. He looks like he was made in a quarterback laboratory. If Lawrence is actually 6-6 as indicated on the Clemson website, it would make him tied for the tallest starting quarterback currently in the league. At 220 pounds, he could add another ten or so pounds of muscle, which will help him against bigger NFL defenders and he has the frame to put on that weight while maintaining his speed. Mechanically speaking, he has a clean release that doesn’t include a hitch or herky-jerky movement. He does a good job of using his lower body to drive the ball forward and for the most part does a decent enough job of setting his feet with smooth footwork. You’ll also notice how his feet are always moving and he’s never a statue in the pocket. It’s the little things that give you the big gains.

Sets his feet and has his shoulders square. *chefs kiss*

Needs To Work On

Decision Making

Lawrence truly believes that he can use his arm strength to throw though any window, no matter how small it may be. Because of this, Lawrence makes a lot of bad decisions that resulted in him doubling his interception total from his freshman year and got lucky on several occasions. His whole life, he’s been able to use his arm to make any throw, even if he was staring down a receiver. However, as there’s more tape on him and the competition gets better, he’s not going to be able to get away with this. This is the mindset that many great gunslingers have which has resulted in high interception totals for all-time greats like Brett Favre, Dan Marino, and Peyton Manning. You have to take these kind of mistakes because for every head-scratching moment, they have four or five ‘wow’ moments.

Looks off the safety, but doesn’t see the linebacker. This is a case of rushing his read and thinking he can throw through the defender.
Stares down the receiver and doesn’t put enough touch on this pass. Not sure if he didn’t see the corner or if he thought his pass was going higher.
Does a great job of eluding defenders, but sometimes it’s best to just throw it away. There wereas two defenders in front of his receiver and that’s an almost impossible throw.

Over-throwing leading to missing open receivers

Like mentioned before, sometimes Lawrence trusts his arm too much. He’ll miss open receivers, usually by throwing high and outside, which is an indication of throwing too hard. I compare this to seeing a hard-throwing pitcher, you have to learn to contain your power and become a pitcher rather than a thrower. It’s frustrating to see because Lawrence will make so many great throws and then misses some easy ones, but it comes with the maturation of every great quarterback.

Has the open window but tries to throw as hard as he can rather than where it needs to go. Don’t make things harder than they have to!
Has an open receiver with some space but throws high and wide. With a safety coming down, he’s going to get his receiver hurt with a throw like that.

Not Sliding/Protecting himself while running
This is just nit-picking now, but he needs to be smarter when running. I understand he’s a football player and he’s not afraid of contact, but as a franchise player he has to be cautious and make sure he can stay on the field. It may cut down on some game breaking plays like the one he had against Ohio State in the Playoff Semi-Final, but it’s going to ensure his longevity.

Just get down!
Takes a big hit that could have been avoided

In conclusion, Lawrence is a special prospect and as of now would have a higher grade than recent #1 picks like Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, and Baker Mayfield. Barring an unforeseen situation, Lawrence will hear his name called first in the 2021 draft and becomes an immediate game-changer.

Current Projection: #1 Overall Selection

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3 thoughts on “Trevor Lawrence Breakdown: The Prince That Was Promised

  1. I love it. Great analysis.
    I heard he’s the great passer, but I don’t know about his rushing abilty. I’m really interested to what team will got this guy.

    Like

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