There has never been a quarterback prospect quite like Trevor Lawrence. Standing tall at 6’6” with silky smooth locks, the man looks like he was sculpted to play football. From an early age, many viewed Lawrence to be destined for greatness. He eventually cemented himself as the most hyped high school recruit in history. Following a storybook collegiate campaign at Clemson, the flawless footballer’s picturesque career crashed headfirst into a series of obstacles. Even after a dreadful rookie season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Lawrence is still destined to be one of the best QBs in the NFL.
“Rookie Struggles” would probably be an outrageous understatement to describe Lawrence’s first professional season. To put it simply, his rookie year could not have gone much worse. Luckily, most of the blame should not be placed on the young QB. The organization set him up to fail after hiring head coach Urban Meyer. Meyer appeared incompetent to be coaching at the professional level and had a series of distracting off-the-field issues. The team also failed to provide a solid supporting cast of players to maximize Lawrence’s potential.
He opened the regular season by throwing seven interceptions in his first three games. Although this sounds catastrophic, Peyton Manning had a similar start to his rookie campaign, throwing eight picks in his first three. We all know how the rest of his career played out. It is not time to hit the “panic button” if you took Lawrence with your first-round pick in last year’s rookie draft. Instead, it is advisable to hit the “reset button” and completely forget last year.
The rookie’s struggles can ultimately be defined by three major factors: incompetent coaching, insufficient time to operate in the pocket, and inadequate skilled positions surrounding him. These elements equated to the perfect recipe for a disastrous season. Facing lofty expectations, Lawrence finished his rookie season with an abysmal 3,641 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. Of all rookie QBs to start at least twelve games, his 2% TD rate qualifies as the worst of all time. He looked lost all season and received a minuscule amount of help from his organization.
Although Lawrence faced many obstacles in his first professional campaign, there were still glimpses of hope and upside. Almost any generational talent would struggle under his unfortunate circumstances. Before his rookie year, Lawrence was compared to the likes of Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and John Elway. Although the expectations from these comparisons could not get much higher, I still believe that Lawrence is destined for an elite level of greatness.
When diving into his stats from last year in search of treasure, you will come back pretty empty-handed. Facing a tough Cincinnati Bengals defense in Week 14, Lawrence displayed a glimpse of what made him the top selection in his draft class. Although his stats do not jump off the page, he completed 17-of-24 passes for 204 yards. He additionally added 36 rushing yards and a rushing TD in this game. Adding to a common trend in his rookie season, Lawrence failed to convert a single passing TD. On the bright side, he displayed admirable control and patience by not turning the ball over all game. The team only lost by three points to a juggernaut roster that eventually made it to the Super Bowl.
On this run, Lawrence shows some of the rare dual-threat ability he flaunted during his collegiate days. He displays impressive lateral quickness, sliding right by the defender before utilizing his large frame to dive into the pay dirt. He finished his rookie season with 334 rushing yards and added two rushing TDs. I expect Lawrence to take advantage of his rushing ability even more in his second season. This will be extremely prosperous for his team and fantasy production.
This is my favorite play from Lawrence’s entire rookie season. It embodies the reasons why he is the complete package and worthy of his draft capital. The play starts with a high, inaccurate snap that Lawrence can hit into the air with one hand. As he turns his back to get control of the ball, he faces immediate pressure from the incoming blitz. Lawrence miraculously evades the pressure and launches off of one foot to find Marvin Jones Jr. in the back of the end zone. The ball thrown was an absolute dart but had just enough loft to go only where his receiver could catch it. An absolutely stunning play from start to finish.
2022 Outlook: Nature is Healing
Now that we have established giving Lawrence a clean slate, it is time to look ahead to his bright future. After setting up their prized QB for failure in his rookie season, the Jaguars were big spenders this offseason to help right the ship. The most crucial decision that the team made was to fire Meyer and bring in Doug Pederson. Pederson is a very respected head coach in the league and has had tremendous success in shaping young talents into franchise QBs. He turned Carson Wentz into an MVP candidate by his second professional season before developing Nick Foles into a Super Bowl MVP.
Pederson also had a successful thirteen-year NFL career, backing up Brett Favre in Green Bay and winning a Super Bowl title with the team. His track record in the NFL completely blows that of Meyer’s out of the water. Pederson should be able to put out some of the fires from last season and help create a successful environment for Lawrence. The two have already had a strong offseason, building chemistry and creating a new, healthy locker room atmosphere.
Other than correcting their coaching woes, the team also brought in a ton of young talent this offseason. They revamped their offensive line and broke the bank for some key free agents. They also improved their defense through free agency and the draft. This will help take pressure off of the offense immediately. Key additions at the skilled positions include Christian Kirk, Evan Engram, and Zay Jones. Although Kirk has yet to reach 1,000 receiving yards on a season, he has improved tremendously each year in his young career. He is getting paid like a WR1, and I expect him to fill those shoes respectably. With these free agent signings, the team now has a ton of speed and big-play-ability.
An extremely underrated factor to the restored success of Lawrence is the team getting a healthy Travis Etienne in 2022. Etienne and Lawrence were a lethal duo at Clemson, where they had as much success as possible at the collegiate level. Etienne has looked terrific at training camp and adds a dynamic aspect to the passing and run game. The team will also get James Robinson back from injury at some point in the season. Once they have both RBs healthy, the team will have the luxury of possessing one of the strongest backfields in the league.
Although Jacksonville doomed their prized rookie QB last season, they have done their due diligence to correct their mistakes. We want to see continued development and growth in Year 2 for Lawrence. It might take some time and patience, but the team has provided him with the necessary elements for redemption. Lawrence can potentially become a Top-12-QB in fantasy scoring next season, but I think he is another year away from reaching that level. Make sure to buy low on the services of Lawrence before it is too late. He is truly a generational talent on the path to proving that he is still destined for greatness.
Make sure you subscribe to the #NerdHerd, where you get exclusive content, dynasty/rookie/devy rankings, buy/sell tool, and a bonus podcast. Dynasty Nerds also recently launched the #DynastyGM tool, a complete game-changer in the fantasy industry. Click here for a free trial. We truly are your one-stop shop for all your fantasy football needs!