Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields will soon be locked in a tight battle. The two Georgia natives have never faced each other in college, but they're in competition with each other be the first quarterback selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Lawrence has been getting massive draft hype since his freshman year, as he posted some eye-popping numbers while leading Clemson to a national title. Fields sat on the bench as a freshman at Georgia, but after transferring to Ohio State, he's put up monster numbers as a sophomore in 2019. He's all but caught Lawrence as the top prospect in the draft class.
As a freshman, Lawrence completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 3,280 yards, with 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He averaged 8.3 yards per attempt and finished the season with a passer rating of 157.6. As a sophomore this season, he's been solid again. He's completing 68.1 percent of his passes for 2,575 yards, with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions, with a passer rating of 171.8. He's averaging 9.2 yards per attempt and has added seven rushing touchdowns. In some ways he's been even more impressive in 2019 than during his freshman year.
In his first year of full-time college action, Fields has been a revelation for the Buckeyes. He is completing 69.4 percent of his passes for 2,352 yards, with 33 touchdowns, just one interception and a passer rating of 190.3. He's averaging 9.3 yards per attempt, and has 445 yards and 10 touchdowns on 105 carries.
While Fields and Lawrence are both big, strong-armed quarterbacks who can move, they aren't the same guy. At the next level, Lawrence profiles as a classic pocket passer, while Fields has some shake to him. Fields won't run by people the way Lamar Jackson does, but he's a good enough runner to scramble for first downs consistently.
At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Lawrence is tall with a cannon for an arm. He has enough athleticism to scramble in the pocket to extend plays and can throw well on the run.
Fields is 6-foot-3 and 223 pounds and while he has a big arm, it's his incredible touch and accuracy that are the most impressive parts of his game. He's also outstanding when things break down in the pocket and he can make plays.
Given how the NFL is beginning to value the ability to run for extra yardage, it wouldn't be surprising to see Fields jump ahead of Lawrence if he continues to develop.
There's serious value in having a quarterback who can consistently pull the ball down and gain yardage when passing plays break down. Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray are just the latest examples, but Russell Wilson has been extending drives with his legs for years.
The NFL is changing and it's a copycat league. Plenty of general managers are going to see how dangerous guys like Jackson and Murray can be and will look to find the next quarterback of that kind. That will only help Fields.
At this point, Lawrence is still likely the top prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft thanks largely to his longer track record. But Fields is catching up and could wind up surpassing Clemson's signal-caller.