There is a long list of star quarterbacks who were drafted in recent years, including Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa to name a few.
But ESPN college football analyst Greg McElroy and Todd McShay believe Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is a better NFL prospect than any of those guys were coming out of college. In fact, he said on College Football Live on Wednesday he thinks Lawrence is the best pro prospect at his position since Andrew Luck came out of Stanford in 2012.
“Trevor Lawrence has been strong with the football – last year, turnovers plagued him,” McElroy said. “He’s been a great, great, great thrower down the field for as long as I can remember, and I think he has definitely stepped his game up to another level to make him now I think the best quarterback prospect we’ve seen since Andrew Luck, and that’s saying an awful lot because there’s been some good ones that have come out in recent years.”
Luck, who retired prior to the 2019 season after constant injuries, was the first overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. He earned four Pro Bowl honors in his seven seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and led the league with 40 touchdown passes in 2014 before later being named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2018 after missing the entire 2017 season due to shoulder, kidney and rib injuries.
Lawrence has asserted himself as the Heisman front runner so far this year with near flawless play. Right now, he ranks second in the country with 15 touchdown passes and has thrown only one interception, while he is in the top five nationally in completion percentage (73.0), passing yards (1,544), yards per attempt (10.4) and quarterback rating (192.7).
Making Lawrence’s start to the season even more impressive is the fact he is putting up those kind of numbers after losing his top two receivers from last year – Tee Higgins, who is now with the Cincinnati Bengals, and Justyn Ross, who is recovering from season-ending spinal surgery.
“I think the biggest thing that you’ve been able to push back against Trevor Lawrence and just his candidacy as the best player in college football is the fact that he’s been on an all-star team,” McElroy said. “He’s been surrounded by a supporting cast, particularly at the wide receiver position, of future NFL first-round and second-round picks.
“However, this year, if you really look and dive a little deeper into his supporting cast … Yeah, he has Travis Etienne, and Etienne is playing as well as he’s ever played. But the wide receivers aren’t as well-known as commodities. Yes, Amari Rodgers is there, but he’s really primarily a slot receiver and not necessarily your alpha go-to guy on the edge with a lot of length and a lot of ability to make himself into a mismatch.”
McShay, who was one of the sideline reporters for Clemson’s season opener at Wake Forest, also had plenty of praise for Lawrence on College Football Live.
“I go back to the conversation I had with him for 30 minutes. He was sitting in his car actually and we had one of these Zoom calls,” he said. “Just listening to him talk about social injustice, about preparing and getting guys together and trying to be ready for the season even though you couldn’t be in the building with COVID, and then just talking about the game and then seeing him on the field in that first game against Wake Forest and then watching his tape as he progresses here – he is so much more in tune with what the defense is trying to do to him and then kind of dictating terms to the defense.
“Listen, it’s an offense that throws a lot of balls underneath and has to get the ball out quickly. But when they throw the ball down the field, you can see he’s looking off safeties, he’s seeing the whole field, he can go from one side to the other side with his progression reads.”
McShay doesn’t think there is any doubt Lawrence will be the first player off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft next spring.
“I think he’s taken his game from a great level to an elite level this year and just solidified himself obviously as a Heisman candidate and the frontrunner, but also as the hands down No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft,” McShay said. “It’s so easy to just lock him in right now – I don’t care who’s drafting.”
Another championship season is underway for the Tigers. It’s time to gear up for another year of Clemson football.
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