Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is ready for the NFL. But the NFL won’t let him play.
Lawrence, the true freshman who led Clemson to a dominating national championship victory over Alabama on Monday night, is absolutely good enough that he would get drafted this year if he were allowed to enter the 2019 NFL draft. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Lawrence put up comparable numbers in Clemson’s offense to those put up by Deshaun Watson, who was good enough at Clemson that he was the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft and has played very well for two years with the Texans.
Unfortunately for the 19-year-old Lawrence, the league’s rules require players to be three years out of high school before they can turn pro.
That means Lawrence has to spend two more years not earning paychecks. Two more years getting sacked by 300-pound defensive linemen, knowing that every single hit he takes could affect his future ability to play pro football and cost him millions of dollars.
If Lawrence doesn’t want to risk an injury before earning his NFL millions, his only other option would be to sit out for two years, which would mean arriving in the NFL extremely rusty. It’s not a realistic option for him. In most fields, a young adult who’s good enough to do the job is free to shop his services to businesses willing to employ him. In his chosen field, the only choice is to play for free in the NCAA for three years before playing for the NFL team that drafts him.
That’s a raw deal for a great player.