Editor’s note: We have the first pro day of the 2021 NFL Draft season in the books, and it was a big one. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence — the presumptive first overall pick of the Jaguars — conducted a 52-throw workout on Friday at the Tigers’ indoor facility in front of new Jacksonville head coach Urban Meyer and representatives from 16 other NFL teams.
With a nudge from Meyer, Lawrence held his workout a month earlier than Clemson’s official pro day, giving himself more time to recover from the planned surgery in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. The labrum injury didn’t stop him from impressing on Friday and the expectation is he’ll be ready to go come training camp.
After getting a chance to watch his throwing session while providing analysis during NFL Network’s Path to the Draft special, presented by Verizon, here are takeaways from our resident former scouts, Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah:
Bucky: From a competitive standpoint, you have to be impressed that Lawrence was willing to come out and throw on Friday. He didn’t need this session to prove he’s worthy of the draft’s top pick, but he chose to put himself out there, even with a shoulder surgery in his future. That just validates what we’ve already heard about him as a competitor. He’s ready to be the face of the franchise for a long time.
DJ: I have to agree, Bucky. Lawrence went out there today and showed me everything I needed to see. It was crisp, and he threw some beautiful deep balls. There might have been a throw or two in the red zone that got away from him, but overall, he did everything he had to do to maintain his status as the top prospect in this draft.
Bucky: This is a rare player. He’s tall and athletic with tremendous arm talent. He has a winning pedigree, leading Clemson to the College Football Playoff in all three of his seasons and capturing a national title as a true freshman. When I look at Trevor Lawrence, I think of him as Justin Herbert-plus. He’s everything the 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has been but I think Lawrence is an even more dynamic playmaker.
DJ: I’ve been describing Lawrence as Deshaun Watson in Herbert’s body, but right now, Herbert is much thicker. The fact that Lawrence weighed in at 213 pounds at the pro day might be a little bit of a surprise to people who anticipated him coming in closer to 230 pounds. We have to keep in mind that he worked out today, instead of a month from now, so that he can have surgery soon. It looks like he probably hasn’t been able to lift much with his upper body as he’s getting ready to have this shoulder work done, which helps explain the lighter weight. I think Lawrence can carry 230 pounds easily and I expect to see him add some pounds once he gets healthy.
Of course, we also can’t lose sight of the fact that this was a pro day and Lawrence was throwing on air. There was no pass rush coming after him. No one can deny his rare combination of size, athletic ability and arm talent, but I do want to see him function more efficiently when under pressure than he did the last time we saw him in a game setting (Clemson’s College Football Playoff loss to Ohio State). He can make every throw with accuracy, but he does need to improve his pocket awareness. He doesn’t always feel back-side pressure and will have to speed up his clock against front-side pressure.
Bucky: Some folks will even point back to his postseason performance from a year ago, when he completed just 51 percent of his passes against Ohio State and LSU in the playoff. I understand the concern, but I think we’re just witnessing the maturation of a quarterback dealing with complexities of a defense and late-changing coverage. Like most young quarterbacks, he’s going to have some growing pains in that area when he gets to the next level.
DJ: Overall, I think we agree that the box was checked today. He showed he’s the same guy that we saw on tape. He can make every type of throw. He’s a premier talent worthy of the No. 1 overall pick.
Bucky: No question, DJ. He’s going to be the first overall pick. He has everything you look for at the position. He has all of the tools you want to see athletically. To top it off, he’s a great leader and a winner. That’s exactly what every franchise wants to have in a QB1.