Career Recap: Lawrence was the top recruit in the nation coming out of high school, and Clemson won the fierce recruiting war to land him. It paid off immediately as Lawrence took college football by storm as a freshman in 2018. He became the starting quarterback over Kelly Bryant and completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,280 yards with 30 touchdowns and four interceptions that season. To close out his spectacular freshman season, Lawrence beat Alabama in the National Championship game.
The Tigers lost a lot to the NFL in the 2019 NFL Draft, including their star-studded defensive line, but Lawrence put his teammates on his back in 2019 and led them to another appearance in the college football playoff. He led a fourth-quarter comeback to beat Ohio State in the semi-final before coming up short against LSU in the big game. On the season, Lawrence completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,665 yards with 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also ran for 563 yards and nine touchdowns.
2020 Season Outlook: The ACC does not have an opponent that will pose a big challenge Clemson during the regular season. Virginia, N.C. State, Syracuse and Florida State could be quality opponents, but none of those programs are at Clemson's talent level. Thus, Lawrence should put up a massive junior year, assuming he stays healthy.
In the non-conference slate, Notre Dame will be the toughest opponent that the Tigers play all season. That also is a road game for Clemson, so the Fighting Irish will be the biggest test of Lawrence's junior year during the regular season.
Skill-Set Summary: From a physical skill-set standpoint, Lawrence is a complete package for the NFL, having good size, a powerful accurate arm, and running ability. If Lawrence were a little thicker and heavier, he would be the prototypical quarterback prospect for the NFL.
Lawrence is just about a pro-ready passer. His accuracy is exceptional, and he consistently puts the ball in perfect placement downfield. Lawrence can fit passes into windows the size of a shoe box, and he drops in strikes past defensive backs. Even though Lawrence will throw into some tight windows, he is good with his decision-making, doing a great job of avoiding turnovers. Lawrence places passes where his receivers can make a play on the ball and avoids giving defensive backs opportunities to pick passes off. The 6-foot-6 Lawrence sees the field extremely well and has advanced field vision. Lawrence has the composure to stand tall in the pocket and does not get rattled by the pass rush.
Lawrence is a good fit for any NFL offense because his powerful arm would allow him to work in a vertical offense and his accuracy on short passes with the ability to get the ball out quick lets him fit in a west coast system. Lawrence has a quick release with a fast arm whip. His internal clock is advanced, as well as he gets the ball out quickly and does not put extra pressure on his offensive line. When time allows, Lawrence shows the patience to let routes develop and does not panic if his first read is covered. Lawrence is a calm and poised passer capable of ripping apart a defense from the pocket.
Another strength for Lawrence for the next level is his mobility. He has quick feet and a burst as a runner. On read-option plays, Lawrence shows some toughness to pound the ball up the middle, and he has some power as a runner that makes him effective in short-yardage situations and near the goal line. Lawrence shows nice mobility to dodge defenders in the pocket, and he throws well on the run. As a pro, Lawrence will probably be the used much less as a runner to protect him from injury, but he definitely has the ability to use his legs to convert some first downs when everything is covered and buy time in the pocket.
As good as Lawrence is and as excellent as his physical skill set is, there are always areas for improvement for the next level. Lawrence benefits from a great supporting cast that often has receivers breaking open quickly. As a pro, he will have to work through more progressions, so speeding up that process will be an area he can stand to get better at for the next level.
The biggest concern and negative with Lawrence could be durability, as he has had some injury scares. Lawrence has a thinner frame, so adding some weight and filling out could help him to hold up at the next level. Considering that Lawrence is only a true junior and won't turn 21 until partway through the 2020 season, he has plenty of time to develop and the weight will be easier to add as he ages in a pro strength and conditioning program.
On top of his great physical skill set, Lawrence has proven that he is a winner with a record of 25-1 as a starter. As a freshman, he led Clemson to a National Championship with a blowout of Alabama to complete the season. In 2019, Lawrence led the Tigers to the championship bracket again and pushed them to a late second-half win over Ohio State in the playoff. That Buckeyes team had more NFL talent then Clemson did, but Lawrence showed the ability to push his team to a win. Clemson lost to LSU in the National Championship, but there is no doubt that Lawrence is a winner. He is said to have good character off the field as well.
Entering his junior year, Lawrence could end up being the best quarterback prospect to enter the NFL since Andrew Luck in 2012, and Lawrence could surpass Luck as a prospect. If Lawrence could have entered the 2020 or 2019 NFL Draft, this draft analyst would have rated him above both Kyler Murray and Joe Burrow, based one Lawrence's skill set and performance. Lawrence looks like a safe pick to turn into a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback capable of leading his NFL team to Super Bowl championships.
2021 NFL Draft Expectations: Going into the 2020 season and 2021 NFL Draft process, Lawrence is the heavy favorite to be the top prospect and No. 1-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.