Trevor Lawrence Tops Joe Burrow in ESPN's 2020, 2021 NFL Draft QB Rankings

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 13: Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers talks with Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers after their 42-25 win over Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff National Championship game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In conjunction with Pro Football Focus, ESPN has ranked all of the quarterbacks in the combined 2020 and 2021 draft classes. But Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, the top overall pick 2020 NFL draft, didn't come out on top. 

That distinction instead belonged to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, primarily based on his age.

"It was a hotly contested debate for the top spot, as Burrow reached a height as a passer we've never seen before at the collegiate level," PFF's Mike Renner wrote. "The age ultimately was the deciding factor—Lawrence lighting up college football at 19 and 20 years old is different than Burrow doing it at 22 and 23."

Lawrence doesn't just top the list because he's younger, however—he's also very talented:

"One doesn't carve up a loaded Alabama defense on the biggest stage as a true freshman without being something special. No quarterback prospect since [Andrew] Luck has allowed his college team to open up the entire playbook in the way Lawrence has at Clemson. Manipulating the pocket, playing on the move, throwing the far-hash deep comeback, running options—you name it, Lawrence can do it."

Herd w/Colin Cowherd @TheHerd

"Trevor Lawrence is bigger, stronger, better arm, bigger hands, and a better athlete. Everything... To say that Joe Burrow beat Trevor Lawrence head-to-head proves anything — Is Nick Foles better than Tom Brady?" — @ColinCowherd https://t.co/6GAqqARCKQ

In his first two seasons, Lawrence threw for 6,945 yards, 66 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions, completing 65.5 percent of his passes. He led the Tigers to consecutive berths in the College Football Playoff, winning the national championship in the 2018 season. 

But LSU and Bengals fans shouldn't think Lawrence's placement in the top spot is in any way an indictment of Burrow. As Renner noted, he's "still the best quarterback prospect PFF has seen in the past six drafts, though. His accuracy is on another level from any quarterback we've ever charted."

Just consider that Lawrence's 66 touchdown passes in his college career is the same number Burrow threw last year alone. His 2019 season was arguably the greatest for a QB in college football history, as he also threw for 5,671 yards and just six interceptions, completing 76.3 percent of his throws on 527 attempts.

He also led LSU to a national championship and won just about every award, including the Heisman Trophy. Bengals fans should be thrilled with their pick. 

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If your NFL team needed a QB, would you rather have Joe Burrow or Trevor Lawrence? Reply with your pick https://t.co/tYtoHRB6rZ

Still, Lawrence's age does leave him with more upside. If he's this successful at 20, how good will he be by the time he's Burrow age (23)?

As for the other quarterbacks in the rankings, Ohio State's Justin Fields, Miami Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa, North Dakota State's Trey Lance, Los Angeles Chargers rookie Justin Herbert, Philadelphia Eagles rookie Jalen Hurts, Buffalo Bills rookie Jake Fromm, Green Bay Packers rookie Jordan Love and Iowa State's Jake Purdy rounded out the top 10, in that order.