Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has officially declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
The announcement seemed inevitable for the project No. 1 overall pick, but is still news at the conclusion of a weird college football season and leading into what should be a pivotal draft for the New England Patriots.
Here’s Lawrence’s official announcement:
So what does this mean for the Patriots?
For starters, it means that nothing weird has happened with Lawrence career trajectory after the 2020 season that was so warped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawrence has been projected as likely the best player in this draft since leading the Tigers to a national title as a freshman. Now as a Heisman finalist as a junior, Lawrence is making the jump.
Lawrence’s entry into the draft adds another top quarterback into the 2021 draft class, following BYU’s Zach Wilson and Florida’s Kyle Trask. Ohio State junior Justin Fields and Alabama junior Mac Jones are also expected to declare after playing in Monday’s national championship game.
The Patriots want as many top players in this draft class as possible. Since they’re picking at No. 15 overall, they’ll either have to make due with some second-tier prospects or trade up for a prime pick (which would come at a cost).
The fact that Lawrence is entering the draft really drives home the point that top prospects don’t seem worried about the pandemic affecting their NFL prospects.
The more top players that enter this year’s draft class, the better the chances are that they’ll land an elite prospect — be it one of those top quarterbacks or a great receiver.
It’s simple: Not all draft classes are created equal. The more top prospects that enter this year’s class, the better chance the Patriots land a player who can help them rebound for the future. Now, it almost certinly won’t be Lawrence. It likely won’t be Field either.
But if Lawrence and Fields go early, that improves the chances of a guy like Jones, Wilson or Trask falling down to a range where the Patriots could draft them — or trade up to grab them.
On the other hand, if all the quarterbacks go really early, that also opens the door for a top receiver (DeVonta Smith? Jaylen Waddle?) or tight end (Kyle Pitts?) falling in their range.