The hardest position to fill in all of team sports is "NFL franchise quarterback." In any given season, there maybe a dozen really good ones walking the face of the earth. It's why Deshaun Watson just signed a deal for $40 million annually a couple weeks ago, and it's why Bill O'Brien should be ashamed if he continues to squander Watson's existence with second round playoff exits.
That said, there are franchise quarterbacks that not everybody saw coming. Hell, Watson, you could argue, is one of those. It's not like he was the first overall pick in 2017. Eleven teams passed on him. The Browns, who needed a QB badly at the time, traded the pick to the Texans that Rick Smith used to select Watson. Even more rare than the "NFL franchise quarterback" is the "anointed from the time they took a snap in college, NFL franchise quarterback."
Andrew Luck was one of those. Peyton Manning was one before him. Now, in 2020, ending into 2021, we are in a world where the "next big thing" exists, and his name is Trevor Lawrence, from Watson's alma mater Clemson. Lawrence's rare combination of size (6 foot 6), a rifle arm, and athleticism (watch his highlights of him running the ball) have NFL teams drooling over the prospect of selecting him first overall in 2021.
Lawrence made it official this past weekend. He WILL be going pro next spring:
In an interview with Tom Rinaldi earlier today, Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence said: "I'm graduating in December. Planning on this being my last year."— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 12, 2020
No surprise at all, but the 2021 NFL Draft sweepstakes for Lawrence are now on.
So with that in mind, here are seven teams that should consider "tanking for Trevor" (i.e. trotting out a bad team in 2020 to get the highest pick they possibly can) or, at the very least, trading up for the first pick in the draft if they are within range:
This seems to be the chalk favorite to be 2-14 at the end of the season, but if that's the case, they're off to the wrong start, as they actually WON in Week 1, beating the Colts. The Jaguars have had about as rough a go at quarterback as any team this decade. They drafted Blaine Gabbert 10th overall in 2011, then Blake Bortles 3rd overall in 2014, and passed on Mahomes and Watson in 2017 to draft Leonard Fournette 4th overall. Going to Jacksonville would put Lawrence in the AGC South, setting up future battles with Watson. Kinda fun!
NEW YORK JETS
Sam Darnold has been largely underwhelming, bordering on disastrous at times, as the starting quarterback for the Jets. If they are bad enough to be in position to daft Lawrence, they need to whack head coach Adam Gase, cut bait on Darnold, and make Lawrence the toast of the Big Apple.
I was listening to some Cleveland sports talk radio this week, following the Browns' 38-6 loss to the Ravens, and it seems like Browns fans are out on Mayfield being the guy. I think it MAY be a bit premature, but Mayfield is on his fourth head coach in three seasons. If the Browns are in range to get Lawrence, it means Mayfield failed miserably this season. Lawrence would make sense here.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
The Chargers just used the 6th overall pick in April's draft on Oregon's Justin Herbert, but they are also trying to fill a new stadium in a city where nobody really cares about them. Lawrence is about as big a star as there is in college sports, and has a certain Hollywood appeal — success, championships, flowing locks, and all. Maybe the Chargers, if they are bad enough, pivot to Lawrence and trade Herbert for draft picks.
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WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
The Washington FT used the 15th overall pick in 2019 on Dwyane Haskins, who has actually been decent over his last few starts, dating back to the end of the 2019 season. However, sitting in the middle of ACC country, Washington would make a lot of sense for Lawrence, who would be an upgrade over Haskins.
Similar to Washington, Carolina is (a) bad enough to be in position to draft Lawrence, and (b) in a city where the fan base would go ga-ga over a Clemson quarterback as their guy.
Does the team that traded up for Mitchell Trubisky in a draft where they could have had Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson really deserve Lawrence?