Get ready: NFL draft spotlight is fast-approaching for Jaguars

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) makes a pass during an NCAA college football game against Syracuse in Clemson, S.C., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (Ken Ruinard/Pool Photo via AP) (Ken Ruinard, Ken Ruinard)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This is the week you’ve been waiting for, Jaguars fans.

The attention and the focus, maybe even a bit of jealousy (looking at you, New York media) will be squarely centered on the worst franchise in the NFL last year.

On Thursday night, the Jaguars, owners of a 1-15 record last season, will pick first in the NFL draft for the first time in the franchise’s 27-year history. The team is all but guaranteed to use that pick on a generational quarterback in Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.

Lawrence is no doubt what helped owner Shad Khan bring coach Urban Meyer to Jacksonville and set the stage for the most pivotal and exciting time in franchise history.

In Albert Breer’s Monday Morning Quarterback on Monday, Khan said that he’s had conversations with Lawrence during the pre-draft process, and calls the changes and the draft something that has the potential to alter the course of the Jaguars franchise for “certainly for the rest of my life.”

“I was really blown away,” Khan said. “I spoke to Trevor on Zoom in a very pleasant way, his sense of humility, his absolute drive. He wants to make a difference, in the community and, obviously, most importantly, on the gridiron.”

The spotlight has seldom been on the Jaguars like this.

Sure, there were pockets of time in Jacksonville history that forced those around the country to take a look this way in a positive sense. The 1996 run to the AFC championship game. The 14-2 regular season in 1999. The stunning run to the AFC title game in January 2018.

But so much attention in the direction of Jacksonville has been negative or dismissive.

When it became clear that the Jaguars would earn the right to pick Lawrence No. 1 overall, the national media folks cringed.

ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap tweeted last December that “Jacksonville doesn’t deserve Trevor Lawrence; the Jags deserve relegation. NFL should change the way draft order is decided, now.”

That was in response to another ESPN personality, Chris Mortensen, saying “Take away the draft pick.”

The New York Times had a feature on Urban Meyer and the Jaguars on Monday. SI’s Breer used the focus of his Monday Morning Quarterback to highlight Khan’s franchise-altering offseason.

Presumptive No. 1 draft pick Trevor Lawrence signed two more major national endorsement deals on Monday, one with Blockfolio, a crypto and bitcoin investment service, and another with Bose. That follows two previous major endorsement deals for Lawrence.

He signed with Gatorade last week and has also reportedly reached an agreement with Adidas, according to Sportico, but that announcement hasn’t been made official by the company yet. Name any other Jaguars player with that much national backing before? There hasn’t been a star of Lawrence’s magnitude in Jacksonville before.

Khan told Breer that the decision to hire Meyer and put him in charge of the rebuild during a year in which the team holds the No. 1 pick was a franchise-changer.

“The Jaguars, being among the two youngest teams in the league, I can talk about my nine years — it’s by far the most important time for the Jaguars,” Khan said in the MMQB. “That’s why I think having Urban [Meyer] leading the team, and where we ended up with the season, I knew that this would be arguably the most important decision I’d be making, maybe in my lifetime. How the stars aligned … it’s something that can really secure the future for the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.