After a dismal rookie campaign, the noise of Trevor Lawrence’s critics only became louder. As a number one overall pick holding the label of a “generational talent”, Lawrence found himself under more scrutiny and pressure this offseason with former NFL quarterback and current NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms being one of the loudest critics of his performance.
In his annual quarterback rankings, Simms had Trevor Lawrence ranked as the fourth best quarterback in the 2021 class and number 24 overall. Classmates Zach Wilson and Justin Fields placed ahead of him at 22 and 23 respectively despite their rookie struggles. Fields had it especially tough in his rookie campaign, putting up the worst production and like Zach Wilson often struggled with turnovers, holding onto the ball for too long in the pocket, and accuracy.
“It’s not an easy exercise. There’s a lot of good quarterbacks in the NFL,” Simms said in May about his rankings. “There’s four categories that I’m big on: Physical talent, that’s the number one thing. Throwing and running, taking both of those into account – that’s part of the game right now in the 2022 NFL. The next big thing would be the mental aspect… Third would be leadership, the effect you have on the football team… and the last one to me would be pocket presence, because there is something to that… Those four things to me are really the way I break it down.”
It is important to note that Simms hadn’t seen Lawrence play in person prior to the completion of his initial rankings. Simms finally had a chance to do so last week during the Hall of Fame warmups and came away with a completely different view on the young signal caller.
“First off, what a specimen,” Simms wrote. “He’s the kind of QB you’d design in a lab. Got some thickness, but not too thick to affect his mobility. And he has the neck of a middle linebacker. The Takeo Spikes of QBs.”
“He’s got a really strong arm, spins it to make it really catchable. I was thoroughly impressed and feel much better about him. If Lawrence keeps throwing the way he did Thursday Night, big things are coming in Jacksonville.”
"I’ve spoken about inconsistencies in his throwing motion. He’d throw the same route 7 times 7 different ways. Motion looks SO much better now. Tightened up, doesn’t let his arm get so far behind him. If he threw 100 balls in that 45 min workout, he threw 98 strikes."
Despite arriving late to the party, Simms now understands just how far Lawrence has come in his second NFL offseason. His field vision, mechanics, and ball security have all been major improvements to his game thus far and it has culminated in only one interception thrown during team activities.
The Jaguars fever dream of having a young franchise quarterback at the centerpiece of a years long rebuild to glory is becoming more possible by the day. Excitement is running rampant in Duval County and Lawrence has shown that he is ready to handle the mantle and leave it all out on the field.
“He’s commanding the offense,” Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said after the team’s fifth practice. “He’s still in the growth mentality, which is exciting. He still wants to get better each and every day. We’ve seen that out of him. He’s leading not only by example but being able to go up to players and talk to them about routes or protections with the o-line or whatever it may be. He’s in a good place. It’s still early in camp, but we like where he’s headed.”