Not surprisingly, the topics of quarterback play and the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft were brought up during the introductory press conference for new Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer Friday.
The former Utah Utes coach did make a quick mention that captured people’s attention in the state of Utah, though.
Meyer was asked about the opportunity of having the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft, and if he sees any separation between the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. National experts almost unanimously agree that the Jaguars will draft a quarterback, and Meyer mentioned three quarterbacks — Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and BYU’s Zach Wilson — when discussing the top quarterback options in this year’s class.
“You see Trevor, you see Justin, you see Zach … as (Jacksonville owner) Shad (Khan) said, this is a monumental moment for this franchise, and we’ve seen some franchises explode, and we’ve seen others fail,” Meyer said. “I’ve said this many times throughout my career is that when the NFL says it’s a quarterback league, I would say so is college, so is high school, so is Pop Warner. It’s a quarterback sport.”
This is the first time Jacksonville has had the top overall draft pick in its history. The Jaguars have selected a quarterback with a first-round selection in the draft three times, taking Byron Leftwich with the No. 7 pick in 2003, Blaine Gabbert at No. 10 in 2011 and Blake Bortles at third overall in 2014.
“Who we pick at that quarterback spot, that’s going to be one of the most important decisions I’ve made in my lifetime,” Meyer said. “… I like to use the term elite. I see some elite quarterbacks out there right now.”
The Jaguars went 1-15 in 2020 and will have a league-high projected $77 million in cap space this upcoming offseason, per Spotrac. Three quarterbacks started for the team this past season, including second-year pro Gardner Minshew, who started eight games and completed 66% of his passes for 2,259 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. His rookie contract runs through 2022. Journeyman Mike Glennon and rookie Jake Luton started five and three games, respectively; Glennon is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Lawrence was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2020 and threw for 10,098 yards, 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in three years at Clemson while leading the Tigers to the national championship as a freshman.
Fields transferred to Ohio State after one year at Georgia, and in two seasons with the Buckeyes, he threw for 5,701 yards, 67 touchdowns and nine interceptions and led Ohio State to the national championship game this year, where the Buckeyes lost to Alabama.
Wilson burst onto the scene as a high-level draft prospect with a breakout junior season in 2020. He threw for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions and added 254 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in leading BYU to a 11-1 record and No. 11 finish in The Associated Press poll.
“Whoever takes that snap, we have got to be right on and I think Shad said it best, this is going to be … the term that you are going to hear throughout our time at Jacksonville is our partnership. There’s going to be complete transparency, that’s the way I’ve always operated,” Meyer said.