If NFL teams are tanking for Trevor Lawrence, they’re doing a good job at hiding it.
Save the New York Jets, who have looked awful in three non-competitive games to open the 2020 season, any team previously linked to Lawrence — Clemson’s star quarterback — is showing enough heart in games to throw doubters off the trail.
Assuming Lawrence does declare for the 2021 NFL draft, he needs to start preparing for an Eli Manning-style power play that will keep him far, far away from teams like the New York Jets.
Trevor Lawrence is among college football’s best players
Since officially taking the reins as Clemson’s starting quarterback midway through the 2018 season, Trevor Lawrence has been among the best quarterbacks in college football.
Lawrence completed 65.2% of his passes for 3,280 yards, 30 touchdowns, and four interceptions as a true freshman in 2018. That season culminated in a College Football Playoff victory over Alabama in the national title game.
Lawrence took an impressive step forward last year, completing 65.8% of his passes for 3,665 yards, 36 touchdowns, and eight picks last year. Clemson lost to Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers in the national title game.
Lawrence completed 22 of his 28 passes for 351 yards and a touchdown in a victory over Wake Forest on Sept. 12. A week later, Lawrence had more total touchdowns (four) than incompletions (one) in a rout of The Citadel.
Lawrence is the presumptive top pick next year
Trevor Lawrence may never say out loud that he refuses to play for a certain team, but he should start quietly sowing the seeds.
There is a very real chance that Lawrence winds up with a team expected to draft a quarterback, like the New York Jets, or follows in Jordan Love’s footsteps and is drafted to a team with an incumbent who could keep his job for five more years.
Unlike Love, though, Lawrence has some of the highest stock among any draft-eligible player.
Barring a horrific injury or off-field issue, Lawrence isn’t falling to the late first-round where, say, Seattle could draft him as Russell Wilson’s eventual successor.
Lawrence could also find himself in a Patrick Mahomes-like situation. A team with an older quarterback, like New England if they re-sign Cam Newton, could trade up for Lawrence and intend to give him a redshirt year.
And, if a team like the Jets or Giants wind up with the top pick, there is a very real chance they trade that pick to acquire more assets of their own. The Giants drafted Daniel Jones last year and may wish to give him another chance in 2021.
Jacksonville, which many considered the favorite to draft Lawrence, may have found a long-term option in Gardner Minshew.
Trevor Lawrence needs to start preparing for a power play
For Trevor Lawrence to make a power play and land in the perfect spot, he needs the Giants, Jaguars, and Washington to all go another path with quarterbacks.
If Lawrence is smart, he’ll do his best to avoid the Jets. That could mean a power play to one of the following teams, most of whom would need to trade up.
- Carolina Panthers: Moving on from Teddy Bridgewater becomes financially easier after the 2021 season. Lawrence would be a local hero, of sorts, and Carolina — at this rate — may not need to trade up too far. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady spearheaded Joe Burrow’s historic season at LSU last year.
- Chicago Bears: Mitchell Trubisky’s future is unclear and head coach Matt Nagy has an offensive background. Nagy benched Trubisky in a Week 3 comeback victory over Atlanta.
- New England Patriots: Cam Newton has New England off to a 2-1 start. But could the Patriots shock the world and make a play for Lawrence next spring?
- New Orleans Saints: New Orleans is 1-2, and Drew Brees could be in his final year. This suddenly doesn’t sound so unrealistic.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger won’t be playing forever and is a free agent after 2021. Lawrence could either redshirt under a future Hall of Famer or, possibly, replace him midseason.
Of course, this exercise could be for nothing and Trevor Lawrence may be doomed to a career with the New York Jets. But, at least we tried doing right by Lawrence.