Trevor Lawrence has been an obvious No. 1 draft pick for years

Create: 2021-01-07
Update: 2021-01-11
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Thursday, January 7, 2021
Well, yesterday was certainly a bizarre, unsettling and uncomfortable day in America, huh? The country once again finds itself in a very weird, dark place and this time we can't blame it on 2020. 
Despite the unrest at the Capitol yesterday, the sports world elected to carry on -- though there was some acknowledgment of the riots throughout the day. The Celtics walked off the court ahead of their game against the Heat last night, then Boston and Miami released a joint statement on some of the social developments this week. Like teams did in the Orlando bubble last year, players also took a knee during the national anthem as a form of peaceful protest. 
Just as they tried to provide some joy and normalcy by sticking to the schedule last night, we'll do the same here this morning. Hopefully we can set the table for a better day today.

📰 What you need to know
1. Why Trevor Lawrence has been a No. 1 pick for years 🏈
We all love a little drama and discourse, but there will not be any debate over who should go No. 1 in the NFL Draft this year. Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence confirmed the expected and officially declared for the draft yesterday, and now it's pretty much a sure thing that Lawrence will go to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the top overall pick. 
Not only do we know that Lawrence is going to go No. 1 overall, we've essentially known that he would be a future No. 1 pick for year. Our Chris Trapasso takes us through the major aspects of his skillset that help explain why scouts have been so high on him for so long:
  • Arm talent: The NFL is ushering in a new wave of rocket-armed quarterbacks who can push the ball downfield, and Lawrence certainly fits that mold. Not only does the ball explode out of his hands, but he also can still sling it while on the run
  • Athleticism: Speaking of being on the run, Lawrence also can make plays with his legs. He's a supremely gifted, smooth athlete who's capable of eluding the rush and taking off as a ballcarrier
  • Accuracy: While he has been known to let one or two balls sail per game, Lawrence has routinely demonstrated that he possesses high-level control of where he puts the football. He's got a rocket arm but he's also an accurate passer 
  • Field reading: He's got the ability to quickly move through his progressions while staying poised under pressure. He occasionally gets burned by indecision between throwing and running, but he rarely gets confused by coverage or holds onto the football for too long
Many will also point to Lawrence's intangibles and his impressive resume as a perennial contender at Clemson. He went 34-2 in his three seasons with the Tigers (both losses coming in the CFP), and he also won a national championship and was a Heisman Trophy finalist. 
Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the hair. I mean, that's top overall pick hair if I've ever seen it. Ideally, you want a No. 1 pick to be the eventual face of your franchise, but why settle for just the face when you can also get the HAIR of your franchise?
2. Pete Prisco's NFL Wild Card playoff picks 🏈
In yesterday's newsletter we highlighted Pete Prisco's rankings of the 14 teams that qualified for the NFL playoffs, so today is as good a time as any to get his picks for the first slate of postseason games. Prisco crushed his picks last week. He's got a little momentum going into the playoffs, and don't underestimate what a little confidence can do this time of year. 
Let's take a look at a few of his picks:
  • Colts at Bills (-6.5): Buffalo's offense is scary and Indianapolis's defense has waned in the second half of the season. That's a recipe for disaster for the Colts, but Prisco thinks Indy will at least be able to make it interesting out of the gate. Pick: Bills 30, Colts 20
  • Rams at Seahawks (-3.5): Los Angeles has given Russell Wilson problems in the past, but Seattle's defense has gotten better and should provide a tough test for the Rams, especially if LA is without Jared Goff. That being said, Prisco doesn't envision Seattle covering. Pick: Seahawks 20, Rams 18
  • Ravens (-3.5) at Titans: This will be a rematch of last year's big Wild Card upset, and Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will be looking for revenge. Jackson is still without his first playoff win and Prisco believes he gets it thanks to a big performance under center and a superior defense. Pick: Ravens 33, Titans 23
You can find the rest of Prisco's picks right here.
I know saying "[insert thing] feels like it happened forever ago!" is an overused trope, especially with regards to the timeline of this pandemic. That being said, last year's NFL playoffs feel like they happened FOREVER ago. I mean, I remember sitting at a bar with friends and watching the Titans just demolish the Ravens in stunning fashion, and now I can barely remember what it feels like to hang out with friends at bars.
I'll have to settle for watching these playoffs from the couch, so here's to hoping that the excitement of the games will help distract me from how much I miss overpriced beers and sticky bar room floors. 
3. Ranking MLB's best rotations ⚾
The San Diego Padres have done their best to make sure this MLB offseason isn't a total snoozefest. Going out and getting Blake Snell and Yu Darvish on consecutive days last month really spiced things up for a second, but did it give the Pads the best rotation in baseball? 
That's a question that was explored by our Katherine Acquavella this week, as she ranked the top five rotations in baseball heading into 2021. Spoiler alert: San Diego did some REALLY good work this offseason.
  1. Padres - Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Dinelson Lamet, Chris Paddack, Adrian Morejon
  2. Dodgers - Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, David Price, Dustin May
  3. Cleveland - Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, Triston McKenzie
  4. Braves - Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Ian Anderson, Drew Smyly, Kyle Wright
  5. Nationals - Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, Stephen Strasburg, Erick Fedde, Joe Ross
What's more impressive: Nailing two blockbuster trades that give you the best rotation in baseball while not having to give up your best prospect in either deal, or having the best pitching rotation in baseball even while one of your best arms (Mike Clevinger) is out for the entire season? Either way, the Padres certainly hold the offseason crown.
But we all know an offseason crown means nothing unless it translates to success on the field, so San Diego's new arms are going to feel a little pressure as they try to live up to this hype.
4. Tom Brady chalks up Chase Young's trash talk to Michigan-Ohio State rivalry 🏈
It's insane that even after all these years NFL players are still willing to talk trash to Tom Brady and tempt their fate. Chase Young became the latest Brady opponent to openly call out the quarterback ahead of a big game when he shouted  "Tom Brady! I'm coming! I want Tom" right after Washington clinched a playoff berth in Week 17.
And while it may seem a little funny that a rookie would be bold enough to poke Brady after that rookie's team had a losing record was completely gifted a playoff berth by a tanking team in the final game of the season, the veteran QB isn't taking it personally. He's chalking it up to one of college football's most storied rivalries.
  • Brady: "[Young] went to Ohio State, so naturally, I think the Ohio State-Michigan thing wears off on him a little bit. I understand that. We're prepared for a tough challenge. Should be a fun game."   
Booooooring! Come on, Tom ... fight fire with fire. Don't take the high road. Put him in his place! Tell him to call you when he plays for a football team with enough respect to carry a name that isn't a placeholder. Do anything except bring up Michigan-Ohio State, especially considering you're on the Michigan side. Things have gone so poorly for the Wolverines lately that it's almost generous to call it a "rivalry" at this point. 
Young is a great player and his bold mouth has added some intrigue to this weekend's matchup, so that's always appreciated. But based on what we've seen from Brady over the past few decades, asking to match up against that guy is essentially just asking to be humbled.
📝 Odds & Ends
  • Markelle Fultz suffered a season-ending torn ACL on Wednesday night
  • The Saints considered quarantining 50,000 fans in hotels so that they could have a full crowd for playoff games
  • Browns players Jedrick Wills and Rashard Higgins were cited for drag racing this week
  • Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda has been released from the hospital
📺 What to watch today
🏀 76ers vs. Nets, 7:30 p.m. | BKN +2 | TV: TNT
🏀 Mavericks vs. Nuggets, 10 p.m. | DEN -3 | TV: TNT
📝 Top scores from last night
🏀 Celtics 107, Heat 105 
Payton Pritchard sunk the game-winning putback with 0.2 seconds remaining to seal the win for Boston.
💵 Winning wagers: BOS +118, Under (217.5)
🏀 76ers 141, Wizards 136
Bradley Beal tied a franchise record with 60 points and helped Washington climb out of a 21-point deficit but Philly still prevailed.
💵 Winning wagers: WSH +6.5, Over (235)
🏀 Louisville 73, No. 19 Virginia Tech 71
David Johnson had 17 points and five rebounds for the Cardinals.
💵 Winning wagers: VT +3.5, Over (131.5)
 
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