There’s a lot of debate raging about who will be the third quarterback off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft. Trevor Lawrence is not part of said debate.
Late last season, a lot of the talk surrounded who would land the first overall pick between the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars. By virtue of a late-season “run” by the Jets and Jacksonville losing its final 15 games, the Jags “earned” said selection and the right to select Lawrence.
It’s long been a foregone conclusion that the former Clemson star would be the No. 1 pick once he declared for the draft. That dates back to his freshman season with the Tigers back in 2018 when Lawrence surprisingly unseated Kelly Bryant as the team’s starting quarterback.
Now, with about a two weeks to go before the NFL Draft, Lawrence is locked in to Urban Meyer and the Jaguars. Meanwhile, Zach Wilson will likely go second to the New York Jets after a stellar 2020 season with BYU. The question now is whether Justin Fields will be the third pick to the San Francisco 49ers after they moved all the way up from the 12th selection. Trey Lance (North Dakota State) and Mac Jones (Alabama) are the other options.
In giving his view of the top-10 picks in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, an unnamed general manager had a rather bold take.
“If you told me Fields was going to be better than Trevor Lawrence in five years, I would say yes, that can happen,” the general manager told Mike Sando of The Athletic.
Given that Lawrence is seen as a generational prospect in the same vein as Joe Burrow and Andrew Luck in recent years, this is a huge surprise. With that said, there’s a lot to like about Fields’ game transitioning to the NFL.
Can Justin Fields be a better NFL QB than Trevor Lawrence?
There’s a possibility that we’re just hitting the stage of Trevor Lawrence fatigue. He’s been bandied about as the next great NFL thing for almost the past three calendar years. The quarterback’s success with Clemson backs that up big time.
Trevor Lawrence stats: 66.6% completion, 10,098 yards, 108 total touchdowns, 17 interceptions
Lawrence did this in a mere 45 games with Clemson, leading the team to a combined 42 wins against three losses. From a prospect standpoint, he’s your prototypical 6-foot-6 signal caller who boasts surprising athleticism and can be a dual-threat out of the backfield.
“The hype surrounding Trevor Lawrence is no doubt warranted. He’s not perfect, as the hype may lead one to believe, but he’s undoubtedly one of the best quarterback prospects of the millennium,” NFL Draft expert Tony Pauline noted recently. “Lawrence compounds impressive mental traits with tremendous athleticism at his size, as well as exceptional arm talent and off-script ability. This combination makes him a safe prospect with a proportionally high upside.”
On the other hand, Fields jumped on to the scene with Ohio State back in 2019 after failing to beat out Jake Fromm for the Georgia starting job the previous year. After transferring to the Buckeyes, this dynamic quarterback dominated in every possible way.
Justin Fields stats: 68.4% completion, 6,834 total yards, 86 total touchdowns, nine interceptions
Fields was a Heisman finalist back in 2019 with Ohio State, accumulating a wizard-like 51 total touchdowns against three interceptions. He has a cannon arm and is seen as more of a dual-threat quarterback than any other player at this position outside of Trey Lance.
“Like Dak Prescott before him, Fields enters the league with dual-threat capabilities but is more of a pocket passer with the ability to extend plays or win with his legs when needed,” NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein noted. “He was up and down in 2020, but a bounce-back performance against Clemson — including an impressive second half after suffering an injury — said a lot about his toughness and leadership. He sees the field fairly well inside the Buckeyes’ quarterback-friendly offense but needs to become a full-field reader and prevent his eyes from becoming transfixed on primary targets.”
A more-polished version of Dak Prescott seems pretty nice, right?
With Lawrence guaranteed to go No. 1 to the Jaguars, the biggest question now is who San Francisco selects at three. The team has been linked more to Alabama’s Mac Jones. However, it does have a rather interesting relationship with Fields. That could play a role moving forward.
Either way, the 2021 NFL Draft will be defined by the quarterback position years down the road. It will be similar to the 1983 NFL Draft when future Hall of Famers Dan Marino, John Elway and Jimmy Kelly all went in the first round. That same draft saw lesser signal callers Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien and Todd Blackledge all go in the initial round.
It will be fun to look back a half-decade from now and see how these projections turned out. For now, Trevor Lawrence will be the head of the class out of the gate.