Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw for NFL scouts at a special session on Friday, pushing this workout up a full month ahead of the school’s pro day so that Lawrence can undergo surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder and leave more time for recovery.
With the 2021 NFL scouting combine and pre-draft workouts canceled this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, draft prospects are receiving limited shots to work out for evaluators. This will be Lawrence’s only workout prior to the first round on April 29.
Did Lawrence need this session to, um, solidify his draft stock? Likely not. The Jacksonville Jaguars own the first overall selection, and it would be considered a massive upset to see them select any other player.
Still, other teams came ... just in case. Representatives from the owners of seven of the top 10 selections were reportedly in attendance: the Jaguars, Jets, Dolphins, Falcons, Eagles, Broncos and Panthers also were there. According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, more than half the league — 17 teams — had representatives at Lawrence’s event.
It makes sense when no other prospects are working out for those teams to do their due diligence. As one evaluator is fond of saying, “There’s always more information to gather.”
Lawrence measured in at 6-foot-5 5/8 and 213 pounds, with 10-inch hands, 31 1/2-inch hands and a 78 1/4-inch hands The only surprising number there is the weight, which came in lower than expected, but it’s hard not to think that Lawrence has lost a little weight and has been unable to work out fully with his surgery planned soon.
In about a 30-throw session overseen by his QB coach, former NFL QB Jordan Palmer (brother of Carson), Lawrence showed a little rust, throwing a few passes high and slightly off target. But overall, he displayed the arm strength, touch and placement that made him one of the most decorated college quarterbacks of the past several years.
One thing some evaluators wondered about was Lawrence’s deep-ball skill, which wasn’t always featured prominently at Clemson. But he addressed that quibble with one 65-yard bomb on target, even if it came without defenders and with Lawrence in shorts and a t-shirt.
Said NFL Network’s Steve Smith Sr. during the broadcast: “He’s dropping dimes all over the field.”
Among the receivers Lawrence threw to included former NFL WRs Charone Peake, Caleb Scott, Chris Finke and Cornell Powell. Peake and Powell are former Clemson receivers, although Peake and Lawrence never played together.
Lawrence later told ESPN that he felt he could throw again “six to eight weeks” post-surgery, followed by “a four-to-five month full clearance." That would put him in line to start training camp ready to go.
What could the Jaguars have gotten out of this?
For the Jaguars, it was a chance to get their first official look at their likely new franchise quarterback. In addition to new head coach Urban Meyer, other Jaguars attendees included new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and passing game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will all travel to Clemson to see Lawrence throw.
Meyer and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney could be seen chatting during the session, two coaches who likely will be connected to him for a decade at least keeping a close eye on his performance.
NFL rules this offseason limit teams to sending three members of each organization to view pro-day sessions. Bevell believes there is value in the process.
“I think for me, it’s just important just to see the ball come out of his hands,” Bevell said earlier this week at his introductory press conference. “I think one of the hardest things to do on tape is be able to tell velocity and just the way it comes out of his hand.
“Also want to see the command that he’s going to have, kind of our first opportunity to be able to get him in person. We won’t be able to meet and talk with him like we normally would before or after. So it’s just going to be the workout itself. But excited to watch him throw in person.”
Still, Lawrence’s body of work during a 37-game college career is his biggest selling point, throwing for 9,181 passing yards, 85 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, completing 66.7 percent of his passes. He also ran for 820 yards and 14 touchdowns — an underrated element of his dynamic game.
Before Friday, it would have been a shock to suggest the Jaguars taking anyone else at No. 1, and nothing appeared to change during his pro day.
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