Trevor Lawrence runs away from Notre Dame in the ACC Championship.

How Trevor Lawrence to the Jaguars affects Jacksonville, New York Jets

  • 2021
  • 2021 NFL Draft
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Justin Fields
  • New York Jets
  • NFl Draft
  • Number one pick
  • Trevor Lawrence
  • Zach Wilson
By Daniel Kitchen December 23, 2020 0 Comment
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The NFL Draft is 129 days away.

And for the first time, the ability to draft Trevor Lawrence belongs to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It’s been a foregone conclusion for so long that the Jets—owners of an 0-13 record and clearly the worst team in football—would get to draft Lawrence. Which is why the draft implications may not have registered with everyone Sunday when the Jets upset the L.A. Rams.

With that 23-20 win, New York matched Jacksonville’s 1-13 record. Playing against a tougher strength of schedule through this point in the season (NYJ’s .592 to JAC’s .536), that means the Jets will select AFTER the Jaguars.

Dropping from No. 1 to No. 2 is a big deal in any draft. It is so much more of a big deal this year, though, because of Lawrence—a QB prospect who has the same status as Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and John Elway as generational talents.

After weeks of status quo, Trevor Lawrence is now on a path to the Jaguars. The Jets are left recalibrating. What does that switch do to both franchises?

 

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How does this affect Jacksonville?

Basically, Jacksonville knew they were getting a nice new car for Christmas. But instead of seeing a nice Subaru come rolling around the corner, a Porsche showed up instead.

For as long as the Jets had Trevor Lawrence first overall, the Jaguars were projected to get a QB, too. Most of the time, that player was Ohio State’s Justin Fields, with some mentions of BYU’s Zach Wilson mixed in.

Both are fine prospects and deserve to be Top 10 picks. In a normal year, it would be a lively debate for who goes first and second. It’s more a testament to how good Lawrence is that he is a clear tier above those two and the rest of a strong 2021 class.

Compared to Fields, who could use a mentor and time before becoming QB1, Lawrence is a Day 1 starter. On a Jacksonville team that possesses a rookie star running back in James Robinson and young, productive receivers in DJ Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr., Lawrence is a fit, and nothing is stopping the Jaguars’ new youthful core of skill players from gelling with him immediately.

For a multi-year rebuild, skipping the downtime it would take another QB prospect to ascend to the starting role before beginning to develop a rapport with his weapons is a big accelerant to return to contention.

Armed with an additional first-round pick (the Rams’) at the end of the first and a bonus second in the middle of the round (Minnesota’s), the Jaguars can stock up by adding high-value rookies to upgrade the offensive line or even give Lawrence another receiver or tight end to throw to.

What should not be lost is the impact Lawrence can have on different openings the team has. Currently, Jacksonville is without a permanent GM. Once the season concludes, head coach Doug Marrone’s spot may also be open.

Those and other young players, plus the war chest of picks, already make Jacksonville one of the top open jobs. If Trevor Lawrence ends up ticketed for the Jaguars? Jacksonville would become THE opening for the biggest and best names out there (Louis Riddick comes to mind) and can hand-pick who they want in those roles entering the next era of Jaguar football.

The GM and potentially new head coach could build the Jaguars as they see fit, with Lawrence as the centerpiece. That’s the type of rare opportunity whose pay-off can involve multiple Lombardis.

How does this affect New York?

ALL IS LOST. THE SKY IS FALLING.

Speaking honestly, people should respect and admire the Jets’ refusal to roll over for an 0-16 season and guaranteed shot at Lawrence. But if there were EVER a year a team should’ve willed such a miserable season into existence, it’s this one.

Getting Lawrence to New York would’ve been a future-altering move that could’ve reshaped the Jets franchise for decades to come. On the field, it’s been discussed plenty of times how he is a generational talent, the likes of which arrive once a decade, at best. That type of player hits warp speed on the team’s rebuild and easily locks up the toughest role to fill.

Off the field, Lawrence is the type of player that is a dream fit for New York. He’s one of the highest-rated high school QB prospects ever, has been in the national spotlight for years already, and would be an instantly marketable face for the Jets and the NFL, in one of the largest markets the league has.

The flop with Jacksonville now creates the scenario where quarterbacks don’t necessarily go at both Nos. 1 and 2. Rather than deciding between Lawrence and Sam Darnold (a pretty easy call), the Jets have to decide whether to draft Justin Fields (or another QB) at No. 2 or to try and salvage Sam Darnold’s career with a new coach and get him some help with the second pick.

The choice should absolutely be to draft a QB. Darnold, even with much of the blame rightfully going to the coaching staff, hasn’t become the face of the Jets. His numbers as a starter are among the worst in the NFL. Even with a new head coach assuredly coming, a clean break between him and the Jets is what’s best.

Drafting Fields or Wilson keeps the Jets on the course they were at when the No. 1 spot was theirs. Either can become the starter by the end of their rookie season, and will give a new head coach and GM Joe Douglas a chance to shape the team around him, while avoiding the mistakes that ruined Darnold’s luster as the third overall pick.

If New York elects to pair Darnold with a new coach to unlock the potential they saw in him coming out of USC, the pick can go multiple ways. Oregon’s Penei Sewell gives the Jets the best young tackle tandem in the league. LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase gives Darnold an instant No. 1 WR. Alabama’s Patrick Surtain Jr. attempts to recreate Revis island as the team’s top corner.

Or, what Douglas should do if they keep Darnold, is trade down. Exploit a QB-desperate team who wants Fields or Wilson, of which there should be many. Acquire a package of Day 1 and 2 picks, while still staying in range to draft an elite prospect. Preferably one that can help Darnold as much as possible to succeed.

This could switch again

New York still has a chance to get back to No. 1 and steal Trevor Lawrence back from the Jaguars. It’s just a very small chance.

The Jets would have to drop both of their last two games, while Jacksonville wins one of theirs. Each team has one contest that should be a sure-fire loss: New York faces Cleveland (10-4) this coming week, while Jacksonville has the Indianapolis Colts (also 10-4) in Week 17.

Each team, though, has one contest that makes things interesting. New York faces New England (6-8) in Week 17, in a game that is potentially winnable for them. Jacksonville this weekend will face Chicago (7-7), in a similarly winnable game that Jets’ fans should be watching and pleading with the Jags to steal from the Bears.

It fits the madness of 2020 that games featuring two 1-13 teams are among the most important of the final two weeks of the season.

 

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Here to discuss and examine all things NFL Draft. Occasionally sarcastic. Life is better with more scrambling QBs.

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