Quantifying Quarterbacks is an NFL Draft focused quarterback charting project geared toward providing as much information about as much of a quarterback's recent career as possible. Over 20 data points are recorded for any given pass attempt, ranging from down-and-distance, personnel grouping, play-action, depth of target, accuracy, and much more. Quantifying Quarterbacks charts the entirety of a quarterback's final college season, as well as a smaller sample (four games) from their previous season. All of this charting is done manually by me during and after the college football season. For a more in-depth look at what exactly Quantifying Quarterbacks is, here is a link to last year's final product: 2020 Quantifying Quarterbacks.
Distance (Usage Rate)
13/25 (5 TD)
8/12 (3 TD)
8/10 (2 TD, 1 INT)
35/64 (10 TD, 2 INT)
7/10 (3 TD, 1 INT)
4/8 (1 TD, 2 INT)
27/41 (4 TD, 3 INT)
14/20 (5 TD, 1 INT)
14/20 (3 TD, 1 INT)
42/68 (8 TD, 2 INT)
14/19 (1 TD)
8/15 (1 TD)
40/56 (2 TD)
15/20 (1 TD)
25/29 (1 TD)
24/25 (1 TD)
27/31 (2 TD)
91/105 (5 TD)
36/38 (2 TD)
21/22 (1 TD)
86/92 (3 TD)
69/104 (7 TD)
94/115 (14 TD, 2 INT)
83/102 (8 TD, 2 INT
75/105 (1 TD, 3 INT)
321/426 (32 TD, 7 INT)
Games Charted: Texas A&M (2019), Florida State (2019), Virginia (2019), Ohio State (2019), All 2020
Blatant Drops: 18 (4.23%)
Forced Adjustments: 21 (4.93%)
Contested Drops: 24 (5.63%)
Passes Defended: 40 (9.39%)
Explosive: 59 (13.63%)
The Clemson offense is a frustrating one for watching high-end quarterbacks. It’s not that the Tigers do not have NFL concepts or do not ask their QBs to do anything, but so much of their passing game is an extension of their running game. The offense is littered with bubble/smoke tags on RPOs (run-pass options), RB flares, RB screens, etc. — over 20% of Lawrence’s targets were on these kinds of “free” throws. That approach makes sense through the lens of Clemson’s talent. They are simply better and faster than almost anyone they play, so threatening the perimeter with plays like this gets value out of their elite athletes. Trevor Lawrence was clearly capable of much more, though, and it’s a bit of a shame we did not get to see him in a fuller offense.
That said, when Clemson did let Lawrence loose further down the field, he made good on his chances. Lawrence nailed 15-of-20 throws between 16-20 yards down the middle of the field. Those throws are primarily digs, seams, and deep crossers, all of which Lawrence has the arm talent, timing, and aggression to hit consistently. He also threw to the 16-20 yard area as a whole more than any 2020 QB, as well as the two 2021 QBs I’ve gotten through (Trey Lance and Justin Fields).
Lawrence’s high percentage of throws at/behind the line of scrimmage as well as to the 16-20 yard area helps shape a target profile that looks almost identical to Justin Herbert’s last year. Clemson’s signal-caller shows equal or better accuracy across the board, so the quality of Lawrence’s profile is comfortably higher, but it’s still interesting that the two ended up with similar target maps considering they also share comparable size, arm talent, and athletic ability.
Now, the final thing to note with this section is how often Lawrence gets his passes defended. As I mentioned with Trey Lance, a QB can arrive at a high passes-defended rate by either constantly forcing throws that are not really there or by being inaccurate. For Lance, it was the latter; Lawrence slots into the former definition.
Lawrence’s hubris runs hot at all times. He has zero reservations about attacking tight windows or chucking up 50/50 fade balls. That hyper-aggression helps Lawrence far more than it hurts him, especially when Clemson’s offense really opened up some NFL drop back concepts, but it’s a double-edged sword that will probably run him into plenty of trouble early on in the NFL as he adjusts to the change in play speed. Don’t worry, Lawrence is more than sharp enough to figure it out in time, he is just going to be the kind of player who learns via trial by fire and the Jacksonville Jaguars (presumably) will just have to live with it.
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ACCURACY AND ENVIRONMENT
Adjusted Accuracy: 75.80%
Outside the Pocket Percentage: 14.09%
Adjusted Accuracy Outside the Pocket: 68.03%
Under Pressure Percentage: 18.24%
Adjusted Accuracy Under Pressure: 59.24%
Most Common Personnel Package: 10 personnel (44.34%)
Shotgun Percentage: 100%
Empty Formations Frequency: 5.54%
Play-Action / RPO Percentage: 42.03%
Play-Action Adjusted Accuracy: 76.37%
Designed Rollout Frequency: 7.16%
No, Lawrence is not the most accurate QB in this class. Justin Fields holds that title for now. Lawrence would not have even been the most accurate QB in last year’s class as he would have fallen a few percentage points short of Joe Burrow. The presumptive No.1 pick still shows good-to-great accuracy across the board, though, and is well above the mark for any degree of concern. It’s also worth noting that, anecdotally, far more of Lawrence’s “misses” come from nothing more than over-aggression, not necessarily his ability to place the ball well. Lawrence is still the best QB in the class despite falling short of the accuracy crown.
Lawrence shined most beyond 15 yards. He is a plenty capable short to intermediate passer, make no mistake, but Lawrence really dazzles down the field. Whether it’s getting to back side digs on drop back concepts or ripping a deep post on play-action, Lawrence throws down the field with stunning velocity and ball placement. He may pull the trigger on a few occasions where he shouldn’t, but it’s that same aggression that makes him as dangerous a passer as he is.
The more specific accuracy numbers here — under pressure, on the move, and on play-action — are all rather uninteresting relative to what we expect. Lawrence comes in comfortably above-average in all three areas, even if he is not outright the best in any of them over the past couple classes. Nothing to be worried about here.
If anything, the worry is that Clemson’s offense might make his NFL transition a touch slow, as alluded to before. Not only did Clemson spam routes behind the line of scrimmage, but they rolled with play-action or RPOs on over 40% of pass attempts. That’s a lot of plays where things were made easy for Lawrence, even if it’s clear he isn’t someone who needed it. Clemson’s offense also played about 43% of the time from four-wide sets and exclusively from shotgun. The NFL is opening to be more of a four-wide shotgun league, but it will never be to the degree Lawrence was playing with at Clemson.
To be clear, Lawrence is absolutely going to be just fine in the long run, just keep in mind that an NFL offense will carry a much different structure than he is used to.
Avg. Number of Pass Rushers: 4.35
Three or Fewer Pass Rushers Frequency: 4.16%
Four Pass Rushers Frequency: 61.43%
Five Pass Rushers Frequency: 29.79%
Six or More Pass Rushers Frequency: 4.62%
Lawrence saw far fewer rushes on either end of the extremes than most QBs do. Between the 2020 class, Lance, and Fields, Lawrence holds the lowest amount of rushes of three-or-fewer pass rushers, while also seeing the third-fewest amount of six-man rushes. Both figures likely root in Lawrence’s processing ability. If you give him time with a three-man rush, he is going to kill you. Guaranteed. On the flip side, if you send six-or-more to try to overwhelm him, Lawrence will show zero issue getting the ball out early and/or standing in the face of pressure to get a good throw out.
3rd/4th Down Adjusted Accuracy: 72.90%
3rd/4th Down Conversion Rate: 43.01%
4th Quarter/Overtime Adjusted Accuracy: 73.40%
Red Zone Adjusted Accuracy: 78.21%
Finally, there is some degree of concern to be had over Lawrence’s charting profile. Though not outright bad, Lawrence’s 43.01% conversion rate on 3rd/4th downs is about average, if not a hair below. The figure is especially odd given Lawrence’s high accuracy rate on such throws. That may suggest he was not doing enough to target the sticks, which does not track with his overall play style, or that he was failed by his pass-catchers more often than one would assume from a Clemson offense. Neither explanation really makes sense, to be honest.
Lawrence makes up for his middling conversion rate in other areas, though. Lawrence’s red zone accuracy, in particular, is phenomenal. At 78.21%, Lawrence’s adjusted red zone accuracy is about eight percentage points better than anyone from 2020, as well as Lance and Fields. Lawrence’s processing, instant trigger, and unholy arm strength give him all the tools he needs to be the ultimate drive-finisher, not to mention he can still punch in scores with his legs.