On ESPN’s “First Take” Monday, featured commentators Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman discussed their expectations for former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and how high they should be in his first season in the NFL after he is presumably selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No. 1 overall pick in this month’s draft.
When Smith looks at the situation Lawrence is entering into with the Jaguars – who lost 15 straight games in 2020 following a season-opening win over the Indianapolis Colts – he believes there is nowhere for Lawrence to go but up considering the team he is expected to play for, the AFC South division he will be playing in, the talent he will be playing with and the coach in Urban Meyer he will be playing for.
“Trevor Lawrence, I think that ultimately, I view him and I say the potential is there for him to overachieve,” Smith said, “because guess what? We’re looking at him, we know he can ball. We know he can throw the football. He’s got great size on him, great arm. The weapons that he’s going to have available to him remains to be seen. D.J. Chark and (Keelan) Cole and these guys, James Robinson can run the football. He’s a 1,000-yard rusher, averaging 4.5 yards per carry last year. And you’ve got Urban Meyer, who I think is one of the great, great, great football coaches we’ve ever seen.
“So, as a result of that, I’d say if I had to bet my money on Trevor Lawrence, it would be that the high expectations are legitimate primarily because of who his coach is and the fact that he’s in a division where right now, you look at the Tennessee Titans, sure. But you look at the Houston Texans, they’re a mess. The Indianapolis Colts, Carson Wentz is a question mark. We’ll see what happens. So, I think to some degree, he’s playing with house money. That’s really all I have to say about it.”
Kellerman laid out his expectations for Lawrence in a timeline, saying that by his fourth season in the league, he thinks Lawrence should have progressed to the point where he is winning postseason games with the Jags.
“As far as Trevor Lawrence is concerned, I think by the end of this season, he has to look like a starting quarterback,” Kellerman said. “Year two is the development year for a quarterback. By year three, you’ve got to make the playoffs, and in year four you should be advancing in the playoffs.”
Kellerman added that when he looks at the modern NFL game, he sees a direct comparison with Lawrence to Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, both of whom saw limited action as rookies before developing into two of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.
“He’s having a lot of off-the-field problems right now, legal issues, Deshaun Watson. They’re very serious,” Kellerman said. “But two Clemson quarterbacks, national champions. Deshaun Watson didn’t do anything his rookie year. He played in six games. He was OK, and then the next year, took the step forward. That’s a comp. Patrick Mahomes played one game his rookie year and then was the best thing I’ve ever seen by his second year.
“I think the expectations for Trevor Lawrence should be he’s going to get in some games right away, of course. He’s got to look like he’s a starter to stay by the end of the season, and then next year we’ve got to see the development. That’s what I’d say the reasonable expectations are for Lawrence.”
Based on what he saw from Lawrence at Clemson, where he led Clemson to a national title as a freshman and finished his career with a 34-2 record as a starter, Kellerman believes the future is bright for him in Jacksonville.
“The thing I like about Trevor Lawrence, not only as the first time he gets to start basically, he looked better than Deshaun Watson did the year before winning the championship,” Kellerman said. “He looked amazing, right. That’s why we’re all so high. The way he carved up Alabama was ridiculous, and especially at his age. Now, I wouldn’t say his trajectory has matched the early returns. But I did see him even the next year – he’d throw an interception, make a tackle in an open field. He’s a really good athlete with a really good arm and a really bright future on a team that is poised, if they make the right choices right now, to be really good. They have a lot of draft capital.”
The way Smith sees it, anything Lawrence gives the Jaguars in year one is a plus, coming off their one-win campaign in 2020.
“I love the size,” Smith said. “I loved his mobility when I saw him in the national championship game against LSU. Obviously, I look at his mobility even though he struggled a little bit this season at times compared to what we’ve seen from him the previous year. But we know he’s big time and we know he’s worthy of being number one overall, and I think that this is a can’t-miss pick.
“So, I expect him to show some promise. But again, the fact that he’s coming to a team fresh off a 1-15 season in which you spent your one opening day and then lost 15 straight games, I think anything he gives you is butter.”
Clemson Variety & Frame is doing their part to help bring you some classic new barware and help one of the local businesses that helps make Clemson special.
Order your Nick’s barware and do your part to help. #SaveNicks