NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the early favorite to get selected first overall in the 2021 draft, is a unique talent with no direct comparables among the current group of NFL quarterbacks.
Jeremiah posted his initial evaluation Thursday and explained if he was forced to select the most similar signal-caller, it would be Houston Texans starter and former Tigers standout Deshaun Watson:
"There really isn't a comparison for Lawrence because of his unique measurables and athleticism. However, if you look at every current starting NFL quarterback, I believe he compares most favorably to a man who preceded him at Clemson, Deshaun Watson. Both players have lean, athletic frames and they are both capable of making winning plays from inside and outside the pocket. They can both drive the ball effectively and they share a competitiveness that's obvious on tape. While they are effective runners, they find success on the ground in different ways. Watson is more elusive, while Lawrence has more pure speed. Watson has emerged as one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL, and Lawrence has the upside to join him in that group in the near future."
Lawrence has been nothing short of outstanding across his first two seasons at Clemson.
The 20-year-old Tennessee native has completed 65.5 percent of his throws for 6,945 yards with 66 touchdowns and 12 interceptions across 30 collegiate appearances. He's added 740 rushing yards and 10 scores on the ground.
He arrived to the Tigers as a 5-star prospect and the consensus No. 1 player in the 2018 recruiting class, and he's continued to look like a can't-miss prospect during his time in Death Valley.
Jeremiah referenced former Stanford and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck as the last player to so firmly establish himself as an undoubtedly high-end talent before reaching the NFL, though he noted Lawrence still has some developing to do during what will likely be his final year at Clemson:
"Lawrence has all of the necessary tools to emerge as an elite quarterback at the next level. However, there is still some development needed. He's not at the same level of consistency that Luck displayed during his time at Stanford. I'm not talking about the statistics—I'm talking about the overall command and ownership of every key situation. I think Lawrence can—and will get—to that level, but he's not quite there yet."
The 2019 First-Team All-ACC selection also owns plenty of big-game experience. He led the Tigers to the national championship game each of the past two years, beating Alabama for the title as a freshman but losing to LSU in last season's title clash.
Watson wasn't viewed in quite the same unstoppable lens during his rise. He was a 4-star prospect coming out of high school and slid to the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
A redo of that draft would likely see him go second behind only the Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, however, as he's been an electrifying playmaker for the Texans.
He's accounted for 86 touchdowns (71 passing, 14 rushing and one receiving) across 38 games over his first three NFL seasons. He ranks sixth among all NFL quarterbacks in passer rating (101.0) over that span, per Pro Football Reference.
Watson has also led Houston to the playoffs each of the past two years, earning his first postseason victory in a Wild Card Round game against the Buffalo Bills last season.
Lawrence, if he continues on his current trajectory and reaches his full potential, has the ability to eventually challenge Mahomes in the conversation as the league's best quarterback.
Even if he falls short of that bar and settles in as something closer to Watson, a fringe top-five QB, he's well worth the No. 1 overall pick. His bust potential is remarkably low at this stage.