I lost my Word document that had the draft order I was using for my mock draft series, so I figured it was time to pivot from the mock draft until the offseason comes and we have a better picture of the draft order and the upcoming draft class. In this series, we are going to take a look at each position group and talk about their strengths, weaknesses, and PML fits. Up first is going to be the quarterbacks. These guys are capable of turning around a franchise from year one. Some will excel, while others will stink it up. The PML coaching staffs need to play to these guy’s strengths, rather than force their system on them. This article has shifted from an overview of the quarterbacks in this class to a head to head comparison between Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. We will still take a look at the other prospects afterward though. Let’s take a look at the big two:
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Trevor Lawrence is the prototypical quarterback prospect. Since breaking into college football midway through his true freshman season, he has been a top passer every year, only outshined by the Heisman Trophy winners (Kyler Murray and Joe Burrow), and he may actually be a better prospect than either. Standing at 6’6″, he has ideal size for an NFL QB. This height does not slow him down though, as he has actually proven to be a very athletic runner. He isn’t Lamar Jackson, but he is very capable to tuck and run whenever the situation calls for it.
Though he is a bit on the skinny side, a 6’6 220-pound frame is ideal for the NFL. There won’t be any questions about his size like there were with Kyler Murray. There is no doubt that Lawrence will be able to see over the offensive line, and shouldn’t have to worry about his passes being batted down. He has shown his toughness time and time again throughout his Clemson career, proving that despite his slight frame, he is tough and can take hits and pop right back up. PML coaches will probably want to see him add on a bit more weight before he is ready to see action, but that’s not anything training camp can’t fix (save your content points).
With a cannon for an arm, there really isn’t any throw he can’t make. Every Saturday, we see college passers struggle when throwing outside the numbers, especially on deeper timing routes. Lawrence has always made these throws seem routine. He throws out routes better than anyone in the country and does so effortlessly. He will likely come into the draft with very good throw power and great accuracy ratings. He can throw the ball anywhere on the field you need him to. With great timing and touch, he can throw with great anticipation and throw his receivers open. The only thing that will hold him back as a passer will be whoever is using him. If a team can elevate their playstyle to take full advantage of his abilities, Trevor Lawrence could easily take a team over the hump and help them take their program where they want it to be.
Usually, when you see a tall and lanky quarterback, you assume their movement will be a bit stiff. This is not the case with Lawrence. He ran for nine touchdowns last season and has already rushed for four more this year. No game better highlights his athleticism than the 2019 Fiesta Bowl where he ran for 107 yards and a touchdown against a top Ohio State defense. Whether it is designed runs or scrambles when the play breaks down, he can make magic happen with his legs. Combined with dynamic arm talent, all of his skills come together to create an exciting prospect.
Clemson has steamrolled the ACC during Lawrence’s time with the Tigers, with an undefeated conference record. His only loss was to LSU in the National Championship, and there likely wasn’t any team in the country who was going to beat them that season. The ACC has been a weak conference the past few years, leading some people to question if Lawrence has been a great player, has just benefitted from a weak conference, has been on a great team, or any mix of those questions. However, if players like Kyler Murray or Carson Wentz have seen success after playing in the Big 12 or FCS, it’s safe to say that Trevor Lawrence is probably going to be alright despite not playing the best competition.
Green Bay Packers:
The Packers Head Coach has made his feelings on Aaron Rodgers pretty clear to the league: it’s time to move on. Rodgers is a great talent, but the team is ready to seek out their other options. This likely isn’t the best scenario for Green Bay, as they could use this pick to add more talent around the future Hall of Fame quarterback, but they must do what they believe is best for their team. Trevor Lawrence would excel throwing to Davante Adams, and would hopefully inject new life into this team that seems to be very down on themselves. Maybe all it will take to turn this organization around is a new face of the franchise.
The Jaguars are going to have two very good first-round picks, as they have both their own pick and the Rams pick. Kaepernick has played very well for the Jaguars, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring in Lawrence to learn from him a bit before passing the reins on to the young passer. Trevor Lawrence would be exciting to watch in this offense, throwing to DJ Chark, Dede Westbrook, and Laviska Shenault. This team has shown some promise despite their poor record, so next year could potentially be a year where they do a full 180 and maybe even contend for a wildcard spot. Though the Texans are going to run the AFC South for the foreseeable future, Lawrence makes their job just a bit tougher.
Drew Lock isn’t a bad quarterback by any means, but when a team is picking high enough to take a player like this, their quarterback probably didn’t play to the level they expect them to. This Denver Broncos offense has all of the tools needed to be one of the most explosive units in the league. With Melvin Gordon, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, and Noah Fant, Trevor Lawrence would have all of the weapons he needs to win Offensive Rookie of the Year by a landslide. Paired with a strong defense, the Broncos could compete for a wildcard spot in the near future (the Chargers are going to run this division for a long time).
Justin Fields, Ohio State
With a journey that took him from Athens, Georgia to Columbus, Ohio, Justin Fields has always been a special quarterback prospect. The best word to describe his game is smooth. He makes throwing the ball and reading defenses seem effortless. Fields was dominant last year for the Buckeyes, scoring 51 total touchdowns through the air and by ground. He has all of the tools necessary to be a dominant quarterback, and rumor has it, one PML team has been eyeing him for a long time. He and Trevor Lawrence will likely be compared throughout the draft process and their PML careers, but you can’t really go wrong with either. It just depends on which one fits your scheme better and who has the traits you value most. They are both phenomenal quarterbacks and will make their future teams very happy.
With Fields, you never have to worry if he is going to make the throw. He throws absolute lasers every time he has the ball and does a great job hitting the receiver exactly where he needs to. He has the understanding of the offense to where he can anticipate throws and find windows that other passers may not be able to. With a very strong arm, he can stretch the field vertically very well. He also carries out very good play-action fakes and can move the defense out of position easily. He makes the easy throws in schedule, but also has the ability to make the big-time throws you expect from a top prospect. He can get the ball anywhere you need him to.
Athleticism: Trevor Lawrence may be a more adept runner, but Justin Fields is the better athlete. He benefitted greatly from an Ohio State offense that makes life easy for their quarterbacks, making this evaluation slightly more difficult. He has shown that he can make plays outside of schedule, though he can get flustered at times. He is a bit more of a raw prospect, but will no doubt be dominant at the next level. He can be successful in the read-option game and has the athleticism traits to give some room for creativity in the offense’s playcalling. His success will be tied to how his team utilizes him.
Fields is a very sturdy player at 6’3 228 pounds and is built much better to sustain big hits at the NFL level. Though pocket presence may be an issue (he got sacked 31 times last year behind an outstanding Ohio State offensive line), he has shown his toughness in how he always hops right back up after getting hit. He doesn’t shy away from big moments. He absolutely has the ability to put the team on his back and will his team to victory, but has rarely been asked to in his current offense. In PML, he will likely have more responsibility at the end of games, and we will see how well he responds to the added adversity.
In his lone season as a starter for the Buckeyes, Fields only threw for 300 yards three times. This was mostly because he rarely had to play in the second half because of how dominant his team was, but it does lead to questions about the volume of his work. Against Clemson in the playoffs, Ohio State had to rely on Fields to win them the game, but he finished with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. That game was not without controversy, but Fields was not able to will his team to a win. Clemson has a very strong defense that has made many quarterbacks look terrible over the years, so he needs to prove this year that he can carry his team to victory. He also needs to show that he can play from behind, as Ohio State rarely trailed their opponents last year. He has shown his ability many times now, we just need to see him in more situations to get a better gauge of his talent.
Getting sacked 31 times last year in a very QB friendly offense with a great offensive line leaves some room for concern. Maybe it was just bad luck, or maybe it was his fault? I don’t have the answers for this, but it’s something I noticed while looking through his stats last year.
We know that the Panthers have been eyeing Fields for a long time now, and he is from relatively nearby. They have thrown the ball very well this year considering who they have had under center, and have a plethora of tools for Fields to play with. Maybe their low-rated passers have been part of the plan to land Fields? They will pick high enough to get him, so it just comes down to what they want. They haven’t used the quarterback in the ground game as much as you would think, but we know that this coach can get creative and draw up some good plays. This offense does a little bit of everything, and could very well be a top offense in the league if they were to add a guy like Fields. This is pretty much the only fit for him, because if he is available when Carolina picks, it’s a done deal.
Comparing the two:
Slight edge to Trevor Lawrence
After comparing the two, Lawrence seems to be the better prospect, but the margin between the two is very small. Both guys are capable of being a franchise quarterback, and will certainly do so. They both will excel in any offense but could do even better with a scheme that caters to them. These two players are head and shoulders above the other passers in this class, but there are some intriguing options later on in the draft.
My draft takes aren’t better than anyone else’s so I’d love to hear the league’s thoughts. Which QB do you think is a better prospect? Why? Which set of traits do you prefer? Do you think there are any weaknesses or strengths I’ve missed for either player? Admittedly, I’ve watched Trevor Lawrence play more than I’ve watched Justin Fields. These two are definitely going to be top tier players, it just comes down to who can use them properly.
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