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Trevor Lawrence doesn’t have a “huge chip” on his shoulder

Chris Simms breaks down how NFL teams will feel about Clemson's Trevor Lawrence not having a big chip on his shoulder and the Super Bowl not being the "end all be all" for him.

Given that his anointing as the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft has been a given for months, quarterback Trevor Lawrence hasn’t gotten as much press as have other quarterbacks with less settled futures. That has changed with a Sports Illustrated cover story that profiles the man who has been destined to be the first pick since he first came on the scene in 2018.

But Lawrence makes it clear he doesn’t need the scene the way that others do.

It’s not like I need this for my life to be OK,” he tells Michael Rosenberg of “I want to do it because I want to be the best I can be. I want to maximize my potential. Who wouldn’t want to? You kind of waste it if you don’t.”

He’s right, and it applies to any God-given abilities. Be the best you can be at whatever you’re good at. It’s a healthy attitude. He tries to maintain a healthy attitude without finding extra motivation in every actual or perceived slight or disrespect.

“It’s hard to explain that because I want people to know that I’m passionate about what I do and it’s really important to me, but . . . I don’t have this huge chip on my shoulder, that everyone’s out to get me and I’m trying to prove everybody wrong,” Lawrence said. “I just don’t have that. I can’t manufacture that. I don’t want to. . . . I think that’s unhealthy to a certain extent, just always thinking that you’ve got to prove somebody wrong, you’ve got to do more, you’ve got to be better.”

He’s right that it’s unhealthy. But he’s wrong to think he’ll compete as effectively as he can when competing with those who behave that way.

Having that half-loose screw tends to be the icing on the cake for ultra-greatness, the thing that gets a guy to do a little more than the guy who doesn’t crank himself up not only with a desire to do extremely well but also with a quest to stick it in the face of anyone who has ever doubted him, or related motivations like intense and overwhelming fear of failure.

The true greats rarely stay on the right side of healthy motivation. Lawrence may indeed be good enough to become a true great without, for example, still being pissy about being a sixth-round pick 21 years and a day after it happened. Lawrence may be good enough to become a true great without being miserable and unsatisfied all the time, like the best coach in college football and the best coach in pro football.

Said Trevor Lawrence’s father, “He’s not award-driven. He’s not, ‘I want to win a Super Bowl at all costs.’” Added Lawrence’s high-school coach, “With who he is as a person, he could walk away from it tomorrow and be fine.”

None of that has the Jaguars thinking twice about drafting Lawrence. And, yes, it would be very interesting to hear the reaction if more scrutinized prospects in 2021 made similar comments.

For Lawrence, any questions arising from his candid comments likely will roll off his long hair. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder. He’s never had to. After dealing with adversity and criticism at the next level, we’ll find out whether he begins using those things as motivation, or whether he’ll continue to be driven only by being the best he can be -- and necessarily accepting whatever outcome arises because he knows he gave it his best shot.