CLEMSON — There is certainly pressure that comes with being the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Top picks are viewed by some as saviors, expected to fix whatever struggles led to a team being in a position to draft No. 1 overall.
Former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is expected to be taken with the top pick by Jacksonville later this month, will enter the league with sky-high expectations as one of the highest-rated QBs ever, according to draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit believes Lawrence is ready for the pressure.
“I don’t think there’s anything that he’s going to see in Jacksonville that’s going to make him feel weight that he has not already felt and – to be honest with you – is what he knows,” Herbstreit said recently on a teleconference. “He’s known that weight to a varying degree since he’s been in middle school and to me, I know that that’s probably his greatest strength – how he’ll handle the pressure of trying to turn a franchise around.”
Herbstreit spoke with Lawrence several times throughout his college career and again recently for a new ESPN series — QB21 with Kirk Herbstreit. He pointed out during the teleconference that Lawrence has been viewed as a can’t-miss prospect since his middle school days.
Lawrence earned the starting job at Cartersville High in Georgia as a freshman and went 52-2 during his high school career.
The No. 1 prospect in the class of 2018 then signed with Clemson and earned the starting QB job halfway through his freshman season, leading the Tigers to a national title. Despite being tabbed as the next Deshaun Watson as soon as he arrived at Clemson, Lawrence was able to surpass all expectations and left the Upstate as the winningest quarterback in school history.
“That bar was so high and that pressure was so intense, and he just never really showed like it was too much for him or he was uncomfortable with it,” Herbstreit said.
Lawrence’s transition to the NFL should be aided by the fact that the new head coach of the Jaguars should alleviate some of the pressure that would otherwise be put on Lawrence.
With a high-profile coach like Urban Meyer taking over in Jacksonville, if the Jags don’t get off to a strong start in Lawrence’s first couple of seasons, a lot of the blame will likely fall on Meyer’s shoulders, according to Herbstreit.
“Obviously anytime you’re the first pick overall you’re going to feel some of that weight too. But as far as that franchise needing to go in a different direction, I think the timing for him is good because you’ve got a high-profile first-year head coach that has many people every week dissecting his every move as much as the quarterback,” Herbstreit said. “I think right now it’s a combination of Urban Meyer trying to save the day and then of course Trevor Lawrence as well.”