JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hello, Trevor Lawrence.
Thanks to the New York Jets’ upset of the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars now own the inside track to the No. 1 pick in next spring's NFL draft. Though both teams are 1-13, the Jaguars have an easier strength of schedule and therefore have the tiebreaker with the Jets.
For now, anyway.
There are still two more weeks to go, and in order for the Jaguars to clinch that top spot for the first time in franchise history, they need to either finish with the same or worse record than the Jets. There is still a small chance Cincinnati could grab the top spot if it loses out and the Jaguars and Jets both win out, but -- for now -- Jaguars fans can spend hours Photoshopping Lawrence in teal and black.
Could it be...? pic.twitter.com/pRZZFSJZXR— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 20, 2020
Lawrence instantly would become the biggest star the franchise has ever had. They Jaguars have had outstanding players: Offensive tackle Tony Boselli is a perennial a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist; running back Fred Taylor was one of the best backs of his generation and 17th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list; and receiver Jimmy Smith was darn near uncoverable and had seven straight 1,000-yard seasons.
But they weren’t national stars. Fantasy football was in its infancy during the time Taylor and Smith were tearing it up and Boselli was a lineman. They weren’t big-time stars in college, either. Taylor was, to a degree, but Danny Wuerffel was the headliner on those University of Florida teams. Nobody turned on USC games to watch Boselli and Smith played at Jackson State.
Lawrence played in two national title games, winning one as a freshman, and has led Clemson into the playoffs again this season. He’s also 38-1 as a starter and regarded as the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012. Some believe he could be even better than Luck.
The Jaguars have never had anyone like him in terms of visibility and star power. Maybe Maurice Jones-Drew because of his boisterous personality and the fact that his arrival came at the same time social media exploded. Plus, he was a big fantasy football player -- he said he always drafted himself first -- as it really got rolling.
Gardner Minshew captured the nation’s attention early last season when he was forced into action after an injury to Nick Foles. But most of the attention centered around his personality, dress and quirkiness. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to build on his rookie season and his inconsistent play in 2020 is part of the reason the Jaguars are 1-13.
But if the Jaguars get a shot at Lawrence, he’ll surpass Jones-Drew and Minshew at the height of their popularity the minute he's drafted.
And boy, do the Jaguars need an infusion of star power as well as a franchise-changing talent. They have made the playoffs just once since 2007 and have lost 10 or more games 10 times since then. Sunday’s loss was their 13th in a row, which tied the franchise record for most consecutive losses.