NFL Scout on Trevor Lawrence: 'Is He Josh Allen or Blake Bortles?'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2021

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 1, 2021 file photo, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence passes against Ohio State during the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game in New Orleans. The last NFL event not impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic was the 2020 combine in Indianapolis. A year later, with the 2021 combine canceled, the league has released a list of players who would have merited invitations. From such high-profile quarterbacks as Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields to guys who sat out last season such as Oregon tackle Penei Sewell, there are 323 players from 100 schools.  (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

At least one NFL scout isn't convinced Clemson's Trevor Lawrence will live up to the hype as one of the best quarterback prospects of the past decade.

Lawrence has been the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft for years, and he remains the expected selection of the Jacksonville Jaguars when the draft opens April 29. The road to stardom could be rockier than predicted, at least according to sources speaking to The Athletic's Bob McGinn.

"The guy has a chance to be great. But you break him down, game after game, he's not an accurate passer," the scout said. "Where he has problems is inside the numbers. Inconsistent touch. Is he Josh Allen or Blake Bortles? Bortles was a big-time athlete, but he wasn't accurate. People were all excited about size and the way Bortles could run."

Although most of the scouts who spoke with McGinn were impressed with Lawrence's skill set—one said he possesses "rare arm talent" and another noted the signal-caller "really is smart"—none of them were all-in on the idea he could become a generational talent.

"Is he a product of the system?" one scout asked, while another questioned how much playing in the ACC helped inflate the Tigers standout's numbers.

"The ACC is not a good league, OK? The only real competition they [Clemson] get every year is in the playoffs," the scout said. "He didn't play well. Even when they beat Ohio State, he beat them running, not passing. They totally shut the guy down."

Draft season tends to lead to plenty of overanalyzing. The reality is quite simple: Lawrence arrived at Clemson as a 5-star recruit and the top-rated prospect in the country. If you made a 2021 mock draft in 2018, he would have been the first pick, and nothing he did with the Tigers changed that.

The 21-year-old Tennessee native completed 66.6 percent of his throws for 10,098 yards with 90 touchdowns and just 17 interceptions in 40 games across three years of college ball. He added 943 rushing yards and 18 scores on the ground.

While his accuracy isn't on a Drew Brees level, it's more than serviceable when you consider he has the arm strength to make any throw and the running sense to get out of trouble when needed.

But the scouts who spoke with McGinn aren't ready to anoint him as the next Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck—surefire prospects who lived up to the hype.

"When you put him against other elite competition, he has not stepped up," one scout said. "When Deshaun Watson was there and he played Alabama two years in a row, that guy was by far the best player on the field. A superstar. I never saw that with Trevor Lawrence."

It's hard to imagine the Jags passing on Lawrence given his long-term pedigree as an elite prospect and his statistical success in college. He's deserving of the No. 1 pick label.

The scouting community clearly hasn't formed a consensus about what he'll become in the NFL, though.