With the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the team at the top of the board will likely select Trevor Lawrence, quarterback out of Clemson University.
Many will make a case for Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, but Lawrence going at the top of an NFL Draft has been a matter of “when” rather than “if” over the last few years.
He has led Clemson to numerous College Football Playoff National Championship appearances, with one national title and two ACC championships on his resume as he works through his junior year.
The Georgia native has proven his worth on countless occasions, with 527 completions for 6,945 yards and 66 touchdowns before his junior year even started.
Even his absences were costly for Clemson, with the Tigers needing a massive comeback to beat ACC rival Boston College as Lawrence dealt with a positive COVID-19 test, and the team failing to take out then-No. 4 Notre Dame in overtime a week later.
Meanwhile, plenty of teams have solidified themselves in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes throughout the 2020 NFL season.
In all likelihood, the team with the worst record from the 2020 regular season will simply hold onto their pick and swoop in on Lawrence when the 2021 NFL Draft kicks off in April.
Unfortunately for the Clemson product, some of those teams may not be able to put him in a situation to succeed right away, or potentially at all in the future. So much so that football fans have wondered about whether Lawrence would debate staying one more year at Clemson to avoid a disaster for his rookie campaign.
To give him a better sense of what he may be getting himself into as he enters the NFL, it’s time to figure out which NFL team Lawrence can help the most in 2021.
It isn’t a prediction about which team will wind up with the first overall pick when the dust clears on the 2020 NFL season. Instead, it’s an evaluation of teams that could realistically jump at the chance to select Lawrence in the draft, and give him enough resources to potentially make a run during his rookie season.
- Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons may seem like a longshot to land a player of the caliber of Trevor Lawrence, given the fact that they were Super Bowl contenders just a few years ago.
But, with a consistent spot towards the bottom of the NFC South standings and a lack of direction both on the field and on the sidelines, it may be time to shake things up in the ATL.
Quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones have popped up in trade rumors throughout the 2020 NFL season, and it appears as if the franchise may be willing to move on from the former league MVP and one of the NFL’s best wideouts.
If the Falcons end up with a top-tier pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, they could try to position themselves with the first overall pick by trading their first-rounder, Ryan and a package of other players or picks.
A team like the New York Jets or Jacksonville Jaguars could jump at the chance to land a former MVP with the right tools under center, a first-round pick, and some draft capital for the future to set themselves up for a rebuild. Meanwhile, the Falcons could set Lawrence up with an All-Pro receiver like Jones, along with running back Todd Gurley and a young receiver like Calvin Ridley.
As crazy as it seems, it would be Lawrence’s best chance to succeed given the weapons around him, and would allow the Georgia native the chance to play for his hometown team to start his NFL career.
- Washington Football Team
When the NFC East is as consistently lackluster as it is, winding up with one of the division’s four teams could either be considered a blessing or a curse.
Even a mediocre record generally puts you in the running for a lead at the top of the NFC East standings, and any team could emerge as a contender if they make the right moves in the offseason.
Unfortunately, the Washington Football Team finds themselves as a squad with no real direction, and no real threat to pose in the NFL’s weakest division.
Washington went for a big move when the franchise selected Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins with the 15th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but throwing him into the fire did not work as planned during his rookie season. Instead, they rolled with former Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen, who wound up getting hurt midway through the 2020 regular season.
Now, the team gets to see what a veteran like Alex Smith brings to the table, with Haskins relegated to a backup spot behind a quarterback who hadn’t played in an NFL game in almost two years before his return to the field.
All things considered, the Football Team still seems like a solid destination for newcomers in 2021. With a second-year wide receiver like Terry McLaurin, rookies like running back Antonio Gibson and wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden, and a star-in-the-making on defense with rookie defensive end Chase Young, the pieces are there.
They would have to do some finagling to move up to the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft if they wanted to pounce on Lawrence, but adding the Clemson quarterback could easily propel Washington to the top of the NFC East standings in 2021.
- Chicago Bears
This may be impossible given the money the team has invested in quarterback Nick Foles, but this article isn’t about the best chances to get Lawrence. If you’re looking for a great fit in 2021, the Chicago Bears should be right up towards the top of the list.
The team has run into some bad luck under center in recent years, with the investment in 2017 NFL Draft pick Mitchell Trubisky not working out as the franchise had hoped. The front office went big with a trade for a big-money contract known as Nick Foles, but the offense still hasn’t produced as expected after naming the former Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback as their starter.
Add in the misfortune associated with the misses on guys like Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in that 2017 NFL Draft, and the Bears might be desperate to change things up in 2021.
With all of the talent the team possesses on defense, any stability on offense would do the franchise some good. With a quarterback of the future in Lawrence, the Bears could solidify themselves as a threat in the NFC North, and potentially make a real playoff run in years to come as Lawrence matures.
- Jacksonville Jaguars
Before the 2019 NFL season began, the Jacksonville Jaguars thought one-time Super Bowl champion Nick Foles was going to be the answer under center, leading the team back to the AFC Championship game.
Instead, Foles got hurt, then-rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew stepped into the fray, and both his mustache and Minshew Mania ran wild down in Florida.
While it was fun to follow throughout Minshew’s rookie campaign, it’s evident that the Washington State alum isn’t going to be the team’s savior going forward in the AFC South.
Midway through the 2020 NFL season, the Jaguars found themselves as the likely heir to the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, with loads of options to think about. They could go for a defensive star to re-solidify their strength from that successful 2017 season, or could go for a wide receiver for more resources on offense.
The franchise could select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields to improve under center, or any of the other quarterbacks that emerge towards the top of the board before the draft begins.
Or, they could trade up to the first overall pick, and take Lawrence, a player that many view as the future of the league.
It wouldn’t be a dire situation for Lawrence if he wound up in Jacksonville, with lots of young talent already on the offensive side of the ball for him to work with.
Chris Conley represents the oldest wide receiver in the team’s 2020 depth chart by multiple years at 28 years old, with numerous receivers clocking in at 24-years-old or younger. Then, the team’s top two running backs are 22 and 24 years old, respectively.
Every player involved has the chance to mature greatly between the 2020 and 2021 NFL seasons, and Lawrence would enter a situation with lots of speed and ability around him.
If the Jaguars can get their defense back to what it was, Lawrence could bring the team back to glory in an AFC South that seems like anyone’s ballgame each year.
- New York Jets
The New York Jets went winless through their first nine games of the regular season, all with no answer in sight at quarterback. Yes, they drafted USC alum Sam Darnold with the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but things haven’t panned out for the California-born quarterback through three seasons with the Gang Green.
Many will talk about the New York Giants as the New Jersey-based team that would benefit the most from Lawrence’s presence. But, the Giants instead need to focus on building an offensive line for Daniel Jones, their quarterback from the 2019 NFL Draft.
The same could be said for the Jets, who need to make up a lot of ground on both sides of the ball from a talent perspective. In the past year alone, the team has traded star safety Jamal Adams, former MVP contender Le’Veon Bell, and linebacker Avery Williamson, and may not be done with their purge of top stars.
With all that in mind, New York isn’t exactly a desired destination in this decade. But, making a big splash in the 2021 NFL Draft could entice free agents to join the franchise, and could set them up for a complete rebuild in the future.
They have the best chance to get Lawrence in 2021, but the Jets will need to do a lot in the months leading up to and after the 2021 NFL Draft in order to give him any chance to succeed.