B-Mitch on if Trevor Lawrence would avoid playing for WFT, Jets originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Clemson star Trevor Lawrence is widely considered to be on the shortlist of generational quarterback prospects. Many draft experts have compared him to John Elway, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck coming out of college. That's quite the company.
Lawrence is also expected to be the top selection in next April's NFL Draft, regardless of who holds the selection.
However, with the winless New York Jets and Washington Football Team likely to have top-five picks and in need of a quarterback, NBC Sports Washington analyst and former NFL running back Brian Mitchell wonders if Lawrence would use the power that comes with being a highly-touted prospect to refuse to play for either of those teams.
"If you look at quarterback development, and you are supposed to be the No. 1 pick, will you come out of school this year?" Mitchell said Tuesday on the Brian Mitchell Show with Scott Linn. "You look at the Jets, you look at Washington. When you look at quarterback development, are you saying 'That's somewhere I want to go?'"
With everything that comes with being the No. 1 pick, why would Lawrence turn down that chance?
Mitchell points to the lack of success at developing quarterbacks that both New York and Washington have had in recent years as the main reason why.
"Ultimately, when you start looking at it and we can stop being blinded by our burgundy and gold glasses and realize, 'What quarterback have we developed?' I think that's something people don't understand," Mitchell said.
Mitchell is correct in that aspect. In 2019, Washington invested the 15th overall pick in quarterback Dwayne Haskins, a raw but talented passer from Ohio State.
Haskins was named the starter to begin this season, but head coach Ron Rivera pulled the plug on that experiment just four games into the 2020 campaign. When asked this week if he thought the team had a franchise quarterback on the roster, Rivera admitted that he doesn't know.
Something similar has happened in New York with the Jets.
In 2018, they drafted Sam Darnold third overall, expecting him to be their signal-caller of the future. While he's shown flashes at times, it seems almost certain the Jets will move on from him this offseason, unless a drastic change occurs over the next eight weeks.
Between the two teams, there have also been the failed experiments in Robert Griffin III, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith and so on. So, neither team has a good track record developing quarterbacks in recent years.
A few weeks ago, Lawrence raised eyebrows when he said there's still a possibility he returns to Clemson in 2021 for his senior season. It's not uncommon for some highly-regarded underclassmen to publicly say they haven't made a draft decision mid-season; Chase Young did the same last year before ultimately entering the draft and being selected by Washington second overall.
But, Mitchell thinks the 20-year-old QB would seriously consider staying in school, should the Jets and Washington remain at the top of the draft board by the end of the NFL season.
"The team doesn't have control right now, the player has control," Lawrence said. "Because that player might say, 'I'll take another year in college before I go there.' If Trevor Lawrence is that good, then he'll be there next year."
Mitchell compared the situation to Eli Manning's in 2004, when he refused to play for the then-San Diego Chargers, who drafted him first overall. He would later be traded to the New York Giants in a draft-day swap with Philip Rivers. The rest is history.
It's also worth noting that Luck also returned to Stanford for his senior season in 2011, despite many believing he would've been the top overall selection in that draft had he entered after his junior season. One year later, Luck was still the top pick in the draft when the Colts moved on from Peyton Manning to grab him.
Ultimately, Mitchell believes the power is in Lawrence's court, not the teams that are expected to hold top draft picks. If the Clemson QB doesn't want to play for either the Jets or Washington, Mitchell thinks he'll be able to get his wish.
"These guys have more options when they are the quarterback, the top quarterback," Mitchell said.