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NFL Draft

Trevor Lawrence: Contextualized Quarterbacking 2021

  • The Draft Network
  • April 7, 2021
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For anyone new to the family here at The Draft Network, Contextualized Quarterbacking is an annual project I put together for TDN Premium subscribers. In Contextualized Quarterbacking, I chart the significant draft-eligible quarterbacks across their final seasons, tagging each dropback with a ton of situational features that allow us to understand their game at more specific and situational levels.

Each throw is graded both for Accuracy and for Ball Placement. Accuracy is a general metric for catchable passes—an accurate pass is a catchable pass—while Placement scores take more details into account: maximizing YAC opportunities, protecting the wide receiver from unnecessary hits, and protecting the ball from being played on by the defensive back. Throws are also charted relative to depth and passing direction, to understand how target distribution affects accuracy scores for each quarterback. It’s harder to throw deep!

Contextualized Quarterbacking helps us understand what each college offense asked of their quarterback, which gives us an additional tool for projecting these passers to the pros. When we understand their college offense, we can better identify those skills that will translate to the pro level, and accordingly, project the ideal scheme fits for each player.

Trevor Lawrence is as billed: a consummate prospect who has no significant blemishes on his charting profile. Lawrence does have a high rate of screens and RPOs, and accordingly does not get beyond his first read very often—but this isn’t anything we haven’t seen from college quarterbacks before, and such players have gone on to succeed in the league. But when pressure arrives—even after an early loss from one of his offensive linemen—nobody performs better than Lawrence. A great sign for a strong early pro transition.


Left Middle Right
20+ 6.1% 6.7% 2.9%
10-19 4.8% 13.5% 5.45%
0-9 6.4% 15.7% 12.5%
<0 5.45% 15.4% 5.1%


Left Middle Right
20+ 10.1% 18.7% 4.0%
10-19 4.5% 13.3% 4.1%
0-9 5.0% 12.3% 6.1%
<0 2.7% 15.6% 3.6%

There’s no ignoring the reality: Lawrence threw the ball behind the line of scrimmage a lot and in doing so, was afforded easier yardage gains. Of the Big 5 quarterbacks in this class, Lawrence was right at the top in throws behind the line of scrimmage (26%) and YAC generated (53%) with Mac Jones. Those guys have had pretty different career arcs to this point.

I don’t really think this is concerning, because on long and late downs, traditional dropbacks, and contested passes, Lawrence is still nuts good. It’s just a good reminder that top prospects don’t always come from pro offenses—and that top prospects can still be top prospects while questions remain in their profile.


Left Middle Right
20+ .760 .739 .788
10-19 .793 .813 .812
0-9 .800 .829 .864
<0 .978 .925 1.000


Left Middle Right
20+ .565 .533 .548
10-19 .673 .714 .683
0-9 .678 .724 .681
<0 .812 .883 .873

On any given play, if I needed a quarterback from this class to slot a mind-bending throw, I’d either take Justin Fields or Lawrence. But on a snap-to-snap basis, Lawrence’s accuracy doesn’t really hold up against guys like Fields or Wilson on my charting. Most of that sensation, in my opinion, is stylistic. Lawrence forces tight window throws at times, which necessarily makes accurate passes more difficult—the window for accuracy is smaller—and the RPO-y offense will force him to attempt quick throws with bad platforms and abbreviated release mechanics, which sap accuracy. No team should have concerns with Lawrence’s accuracy profile—it’s all just about understanding what the offense does and doesn’t require of him, and how that may affect his transition over Year 1 and into Year 2.

Please click here for access to the full data sheet including QB alignment, X-step drops, MOFO/MOFC coverage, first read, beyond first read, pressured vs. unpressured, and much more.

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