As long as Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence stays healthy, there is no reason he shouldn’t be the first quarterback taken off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft.
If he would have been in the 2020 draft class, he would have given Joe Burrow a run for his money to be the first overall pick. Losing isn’t fun in the NFL, but the more losses a team adds up during the 2020 season, the better the chance they can get their hands on Lawrence.
So what teams might have a chance at drafting Lawrence in the 2021 draft? Let’s look at some teams who could have their new franchise quarterback heading into the 2021 season.
The Chicago Bears have brought in Nick Foles to compete against Mitchell Trubisky for the starting quarterback job, but that is an experiment that could fail. Outside of the Philadelphia Eagles, Foles hasn’t found a whole lot of success in the NFL. We already know what is going to happen if Trubisky is under center — he is going to lead the Bears to losses. The NFC North is competitive, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Bears finish with only a handful of wins this season.
The Washington Redskins hope they have their future secured with Dwayne Haskins under center, but there is no guarantee that is going to work out. Interceptions were an issue for Haskins during the 2019 season, having thrown seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
One other thing that could be working against Haskins is Ron Rivera. Rivera very well could fall in love with him, but he wasn’t the one to draft him so there isn’t an attachment between coach and quarterback. If the Redskins and Haskins do struggle this season, there is no reason to believe that Rivera is going to give him another chance. With a bad season, the Redskins could very well end up drafting Lawrence to replace Haskins.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have expressed confidence in Gardner Minshew, but that doesn’t mean the pairing is going to work out. Minshew has also made it clear that he’s aware the Jaguars need to do what’s best for the team when asked about bringing in another quarterback for the 2020 season (via ESPN):
“I had conversations with Dave Caldwell. I told him, ‘Do what you think’s best for this team. I believe that I’m going to give us the best chance to win no matter what’ … I’ve just got to prove that every day and I’m excited for the opportunity to be able to prove that.”
The problem with Minshew might not be his skills, but with the talent that surrounds him. There is a lack of playmakers on the roster, so even if Minshew plays well, the Jaguars may not win many games. Even with Minshew in the fold, if Lawrence is on the board when the Jaguars select in next year’s draft they may not be willing to pass him up.
The Detroit Lions might be more of a long shot because Matthew Stafford is still a good quarterback, but there is still one way Detroit could land Lawrence: Stafford going down with an injury. Stafford is tough and usually plays through what ails him, but last season Stafford suffered broken bones in his back that kept him out most of the season.
Without Stafford in 2019, the Lions weren’t a very talented team, something that would ring true again this season if he were to go down with an injury. At some point, the Lions need to start thinking about life after Stafford, especially if he continues to get banged up. Could the Lions bring the next great quarterback into the NFC North by drafting Lawrence?
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots hope they have their replacement for Tom Brady with Jarret Stidham, but there is no guarantee that is going to work out. The Patriots had plans of drafting a quarterback during the 2019 draft, but the stars didn’t align, as Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said earlier this year per ESPN’s Mike Reiss:
“If we feel like we find the right situation, we’ll certainly draft them. We’ve drafted them in multiple years, multiple points in the draft … Didn’t work out the last three days. That wasn’t by design. We just tried to do the best we could with what we had this weekend.”
If Stidham struggles this season and the Patriots only win a game or two, it probably wouldn’t be the worst thing for the franchise. The rest of the Patriots team is talented, and Lawrence would fill the one missing link.