2021 NFL Draft: Pro Day questions for top five quarterbacks

2021 NFL Draft prospect Trevor Lawrence fires a pass in front of Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer (Photo by David Platt/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports)
2021 NFL Draft prospect Trevor Lawrence fires a pass in front of Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer (Photo by David Platt/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports) /
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Trevor Lawrence, 2021 NFL Draft
2021 NFL Draft prospect Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Clemson. Trevor Lawrence. player. Quarterback. 1. 879

Top question: Why does Lawrence tend to throw high to receivers, even when it’s not necessary?

Pro Day: February 12, 2021

This one is kind of a cheat, considering Lawrence already had his Pro Day in a private workout earlier in February. He was scheduled to undergo surgery on his non-throwing shoulder and waiting till after his Pro Day would have made put his availability in Week One of the regular season in jeopardy.

Considering the hype surrounding Lawrence since 2018, it’s not surprising NFL teams were willing to attend a private workout just for him on top of the regular Clemson Pro Day. This pick has basically been written on the Jacksonville Jaguars first-round Draft card since the team lost enough games to qualify for the first-overall pick last season.

But we must soldier on and ask this apparent football messiah, a player that looked pro-ready coming out of high school, about his flaws as a quarterback. Despite what the three-year hype train surrounding Lawrence might tell you, he does indeed have flaws in his quarterback play. Not many, but they do indeed exist. And we aren’t doing any favors to Lawrence or the Jaguars by not talking about them.

Lawrence may be as pro-ready as any quarterback entering the NFL since Andrew Luck. But his targetting on go and corner routes tend to lean on the high side. This is likely intentional, as college cornerbacks (usually) aren’t skilled enough to make a play on a high ball dropping out of a full run. It’s the same logic as a fade route in the end zone: if it goes too high it lands out of bounds, no biggie. If it’s on target, his receivers were usually talented enough to reign these throws in and box out coverage.

This “issue” feels like such a nit-pick, as Lawrence only threw five interceptions in 2020 and has only thrown a grand total of 17 in three seasons. But once he is in Jacksonville, Lawrence won’t have the top-tier receiver talent he grew to trust at Clemson. He’ll be working behind a weaker offensive line and won’t have a talented pass-catching running back like Travis Ettienne to open up the field. Nor will he have the quality defensive units that helped keep games close in college.

Conversely, while ACC cornerbacks and safeties may have a hard time making plays against high-thrown balls, secondaries in the NFL are not so easily befuddled. Cornerbacks like Jalen Ramsey and Richard Sherman are athletic enough and tall enough to make any pass overthrown up for grabs, either by tipping it into the hands of a nearby defender or snatching them outright.

Lawrence already had his private Pro Day attended by multiple NFL scouting departments. Most aren’t expecting a chance to actually draft Lawrence in the 2021 NFL Draft and were merely performing their due diligence. Scouting their inevitable opponent. Most years, many of the top quarterback prospects refuse to throw, opting to let the game tape speak for itself. Opting to throw for NFL scouts to show “he has nothing to hide” bought Lawrence a bunch of good-will in the media and in NFL front offices. This kid looks like the real deal.

Related Story. 2021 Jaguars mock draft: Building around Lawrence. light

Nothing he showed at his Pro Day disrupted his status as the top quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. He threw with precision and timing (albeit against air instead of defenders). His accuracy on most hitch, post and in-routes was spot on. He looked skinny, probably from a lack of gym time (due to COVID-19) but that is something that can be easily fixed in the NFL. Lawrence showed the necessary techniques to make tight-window throws with a high level of accuracy, which is really his best asset as a quarterback. Lawrence’s Pro Day only solidified his status as the best quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft, bar none.

But on one throw, one single outside the numbers throw, the ball looked like it had a little too much air underneath it, reaching the receiver a little high. Lawrence still looks better than two-thirds of the NFL’s starters. But that one throw shows Lawrence still has skills that need sharpening in the NFL. Not bad for a 21-year old college junior though.