The chances of the Patriots drafting Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence are slim to none. Even “slim” sounds like a stretch.
Lawrence, barring any major change, will go No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the upcoming NFL Draft. But the Patriots, along with 16 other teams, still attended his Pro Day workout last month in South Carolina.
Why bother scouting a player when the likelihood of drafting him is very low?
For starters, the exercise could assist in contextualizing the skills of other quarterback prospects. While Lawrence is considered the clear-cut best choice, BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance all could be in the conversation for No. 2 at the position. With an obvious need at quarterback, the Patriots will likely want to build the most comprehensive knowledge base possible of the incoming class.
The information the Patriots gather on Lawrence also could become useful in the event he becomes available in the future. As the Patriots navigate the post-Tom Brady era, they aren’t going to say no to an opportunity to gather intel on a talented young quarterback.
And at the very least, the Patriots also got another look at one of Lawrence’s college teammates, Cornell Powell, who was among those catching passes. Powell, a 6-foot receiver, met with the Patriots while at the Senior Bowl in January.
So, what makes Lawrence the top pick this year?
His on-point accuracy, powerful arm, and good decision-making are just the beginning of his pro-ready traits. He can throw the ball deep, takes care of the football, and boasts impressive field vision at 6 feet 6 inches.
Last season, in 10 games as a junior, Lawrence threw for 3,153 yards and 24 touchdowns while completing 69.2 percent of his passes. He rushed for 203 yards and 8 touchdowns, too.
Lawrence finished his college career 34-2 as a starter, setting a Clemson record for career winning percentage (.944) and winning a national championship in 2018. He also set school records in pass efficiency rating (164.3), yards per attempt (8.87), and wins against top 25 opponents (nine).
There seem to be few, if any, questions about whether Lawrence is equipped for the NFL, but he still elected to throw in front of NFL teams, holding his individual workout about a month earlier than Clemson’s official Pro Day.
In the days following the workout, Lawrence underwent labrum surgery on his left (non-throwing shoulder) and will now have more time to recover. The procedure is not expected to interrupt his rookie year.
That Lawrence still wanted to schedule a Pro Day impressed Jaguars coach Urban Meyer, who seemed pleased with what he saw in the 52-throw session.
“We had extremely high expectations and we were not disappointed,” Meyer said, via Jaguars.com.
During the workout, Meyer watched from a close distance.
“I want to hear that ball leave his hand,” Meyer said. “I want to hear that ball go by my head. I do the same thing at practice. And I do want him to know we’re right there. You’ll see me do that with our kickers, too. I’m going to get real close to them. Life’s about how you can respond to pressure.”
Although Lawrence to Jacksonville sounds like a wrap, there is, of course, the outside possibility that the Patriots decide to trade up. But that scenario seems rather unlikely, given the sizable package a deal would require, as well as coach Bill Belichick’s draft history.
Since 2000, the Patriots have traded down eight times and traded up four times in the first round. In 2002, they moved from 32nd to 21st overall to select tight end Daniel Graham out of Colorado. In 2004, they moved up one pick, from 14th to 13th, to select defensive tackle Ty Warren out of Texas A&M. And in 2012, they traded up twice, first from 27th to 21st to select defensive end Chandler Jones out of Syracuse, and then from 31st to 25th to select linebacker Dont’a Hightower out of Alabama.
All that being said, there is still value in scouting Lawrence from a due diligence standpoint.