How Trevor Lawrence sizes up as perfect fit for quarterback-deficient Jaguars
Longtime Jacksonville Jaguars fan Eric Dilla hasn’t missed a Jaguars home game since 2007, so he’s accustomed to disappointment.
That may explain his mild level of concern heading into the first round of the 2021 NFL draft Thursday night, with his beloved Jaguars holding the first pick.
“I’m ready to be relieved,” Dilla said. “You know it’s going to be him (Trevor Lawrence), but until they say his name…”
Dilla can breathe easy today.
Jacksonville made the former Clemson quarterback the No. 1 pick, and Dilla is convinced that it’s a fateful marriage.
“His personality fits Jacksonville – powerful, but laid-back,” Dilla said.
Indeed, Lawrence's talent and demeanor could be just what the quarterback-deficient Jaguars need.
Matt Miller of thedraftscout.com believes Lawrence is bound for greatness, calling him “an elite prospect” with “all the tools of a franchise quarterback with high-end potential to become one of the NFL’s best passers.”
Gil Brandt, an analyst for NFL.com and former vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys for 29 years, offers this comparison: “Trevor Lawrence is (John) Elway athlete and (Peyton) Manning accuracy. So I think you’re getting the best of both of them.”
He’ll need both of those attributes in abundance to alter the immediate fortunes of the Jaguars, who have notched only one winning season in the past 13.
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New coach Urban Meyer hopes to jump-start a rebuild with a franchise quarterback, and Lawrence fits the bill, although the Jaguars aren't totally bereft of talent.
Undrafted running back James Robinson burst onto the scene and rushed for 1,070 yards with seven touchdowns last season and the Jaguars acquired 10-year veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones in the offseason. Jones has 51 touchdown receptions in 112 career games.
Lawrence also should benefit from having a familiar face in the backfield in Travis Etienne, his teammate for each of the past three seasons at Clemson. Etienne was picked by the Jaguars with their second pick, 25th overall, in the first round late Thursday night and brings an instant home run threat, both in the running and passing game.
Gardner Minshew is the Jaguars' incumbent at quarterback. He’s a third-year player who was drafted out of Washington State in the sixth round in 2019 and last season had 16 touchdown passes and five interceptions in nine games.
Last year’s primary backup, former N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon, left the Jaguars to sign with the New York Giants, leaving second-year player Jake Luton as the lone viable backup. Luton had two touchdowns and six interceptions in three games in 2020.
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Lawrence had surgery to repair the labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder on Feb. 16, but is expected to be fully ready when the Jaguars open camp in July.
“No one’s going to work harder,” Lawrence said Thursday night. “I’m going to do what it takes. I feel really good about the coaching staff and the team that we have in Jacksonville and I’m super excited to get down there and meet everybody.
“I’m just pumped, and the best is yet to come. That’s what we said here at Clemson, and I’m just going to take that on to the next step, which is Jacksonville. I’m super excited to be a Jag.”
Most NFL analysts are convinced that Lawrence will take command of his new team from the outset.
“He has prototypical size and athleticism and elite intangibles,” said Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network. “Every throw, he can make. That’s the on-the-field stuff, and the off-the-field stuff is even better.”
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Former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Kurt Warner agreed.
“For me it’s about processing first,” Warner said. “Anticipation, read the defense, get the ball out on time before your guy even turns around. And he’s got the ability to go up over the top with that big-time arm, and he’s got beautiful touch.
“It’s not about how fast you run the 40, it’s about how you can create and feel things at the quarterback position. He’s a complete player.”