It is hard to find many who would argue Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence lit the world on fire and established himself as a rookie in 2021, but that hasn't stopped the optimism about the No. 1 pick's future.
In a ranking by Pro Football Focus on the NFL's 25 best players under 25, Lawrence finds himself among the rest of the NFL's young elite. No, he wasn't near the top of the list, but he was still the only quarterback of the 2021 draft class to be named to the list, coming in at No. 21.
"Lawrence’s rookie season wasn’t the triumphant year many were hoping for from the No. 1 overall pick, with him tallying 3,600 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. But let’s be real, there’s no chance it was going to be under Urban Meyer and the circus that was the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021," PFF's Trevor Sikkema wrote.
"Among all the chaos, Lawrence still showed flashes of that special quarterback ability while navigating the typical NFL learning curve. With Doug Pederson now as his head coach, we’re expecting a huge leap from Lawrence in Year 2."
Lawrence was one of only two quarterbacks named to the list. Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was ranked No. 2, behind top-ranked Nick Bosa. Of course, some young quarterbacks such as Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson do not apply to the under-25 criteria, bolstering Lawrence's case.
"He’s so engaging right now. The communication is pretty incredible," Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said about Lawrence last week.
"The things that he sees on the football field and even from the standpoint of, ‘Hey, I like this play. This is what we did last year. I like this play. I like this concept, is there a way that we can incorporate this in our offense?’ That’s the dialogue that’s going on right now and this is the time to, really, I think embrace that and get it into our system now.”
Lawrence was ranked over players such as New York Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White, Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts, and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs.
Players ranked immediately above Lawrence include Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr., and Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.
Lawrence has a lot to prove in Year 2 under Pederson, but his flashes during his rookie season has provided tangible evidence of upside. While the question remains if Lawrence's production and hype will meet his reputation as a generational quarterback prospect, Lawrence has backers in his corner and a head coach with a history of developing quarterbacks.
“It’s really sort of kind of taking what he did last year and sort of building on it and kind of almost like hitting the reset button just a little bit because this is the first time that we’ve had our chance to work with him and really begin to work on the details, the fundamentals, and how to be a professional and his study habits and all those things that come with being an NFL quarterback," Pederson said. "The thing with Trevor that I really like is the fact that he played last year and so this is not his rookie season.
"But for us, as coaches, being the first time to get our hands on him and just putting him through maybe a different set of drills, something he hasn’t been used to in his past, and really developing his talent and allowing him to kind of showcase that on the field is what I was alluding to the other day. It’s teaching him exactly what we’re asking of him within our system and then letting him grow from there.”