Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence wants to play football this fall.

Ironically, no player in college football has more to lose than Lawrence if football were to be played. He will be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft – unless something dramatic occurs between now and then.

And, just a reminder, it is not out of the ordinary for something dramatic to happen.

Joe Burrow had a decent junior season at LSU after transferring from Ohio State, where he was stuck down the quarterback depth chart and unable to earn significant playing time.

If Burrow did not have the opportunity to throw 60 touchdown passes – that’s correct, 60 – with just six interceptions, it’s anybody’s guess where or if he would have been drafted following his senior season.

Burrow certainly would not have been awarded the fully guaranteed four-year, $36.19 million contract that came along with the Cincinnati Bengals making him the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

The NFL Draft occurs every April. This week, the Pac-12 and Big Ten announced the postponements of their football seasons in the fall.

The intention for those conferences is to play in the spring. What or how that might look is anybody’s guess.


[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Likewise, the feeder system for the NFL next spring has never looked so uncertain.

In a typical year, a 50-percent success rate for NFL draft picks is considered the standard by which teams measure themselves.

But with no college football season and/or a significant number of NFL-aiming players deciding to opt out in the spring, the draft could take on the accuracy of a vertigo-stricken dart player in a carnival funhouse.

There will be teams that will immediately know they missed badly with first-round draft picks when they see them for the first time on the practice field a year from now. There will be teams that get lucky and select cornerstones of their franchises in the sixth or seventh rounds.

There will be plenty of guesswork involved – more than ever before. It will be imperative for teams to develop a plan for identifying the precise specifications they covet from players at each position.

Teams will unquestionably start with the film from the 2019 college football season. Private workouts and interviews will carry more weight than ever.

Height, weight, speed, agility and individual football movements will all be take precedence as teams begin arranging their draft boards.

There’s no telling how scouts and team executives will be allowed to meet with prospects. But teams must attempt to gauge a prospect’s character and passion for the game. Personnel departments will try to project how a player’s makeup would lead a college player to improve or decline since he was last seen playing a football game.

In a typical year, the 49ers will send their scouts on the road for school visits from August through Thanksgiving. Preliminary draft meetings and deep dives into players’ character begin in December.

January is the time for all-star game evaluations and cross-checks of the prospects. The NFL Scouting Combine, meetings, visits and workouts fill the calendar from February through the draft.

If the SEC, ACC and Big 12 are able to follow through with their seasons, it could cut both ways for prospects from those institutions. Some will improve their draft stock. Some would have been better off allowing their 2019 film to speak for itself.

Aside from taking on any risks associated with COVID-19, some players will sustain football injuries that will prompt them to slide down, or completely off, NFL draft boards.

The 2021 NFL Draft is already shaping up as the biggest roll of the dice football has ever seen.