The 2020 season was a year to forget for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Outside of upsetting the Colts in the Week 1 opener, there wasn't much to write home about as they went on to lose 15 straight and end the year with an NFL-worst 1-15 record. While that wasn't a fun experience for those in Duval County, there was a light at the end of the tunnel and they are about to reach the station. Yes, those losses brought Jacksonville here: the 2021 NFL Draft where they hold the No. 1 overall pick.
Of course, it's no secret why getting the top selection in this draft, in particular, is so important as Trevor Lawrence -- the player that is the virtual lock to hear his name called first -- is one of the most hyped quarterbacks to ever come into the NFL. While there's certainly a lot of excitement surrounding that pick, there is more work to be done for the Jaguars beyond that. In all, the club owns 10 selections in the upcoming draft, which is tied for the second-most in the league and includes another first-rounder on top of No. 1 overall.
How Jacksonville uses each and every one of those picks is vital in setting a foundation for this promising next stage in the franchise's history. Below, we've come up with a blueprint that could help the Jaguars set a course to a perfect draft and position themselves to contend in the AFC in relatively short order.
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Let the Trevor Lawrence era begin
An absolute no-brainer. Trevor Lawrence is considered to be a generational prospect that has the potential to change the trajectory of any franchise. As CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Chris Trapasso recently laid out, the Clemson phenom is the best quarterback prospect of the past 40 years, which includes legends like John Elway and Peyton Manning along with Andrew Luck. This is an easy first step for the Jaguars brass, but the seismic nature of this selection cannot be overstated. Once they officially make Lawrence a Jaguar, they've completed an important step toward relevancy.
Emphasize protecting Lawrence with No. 25 pick
This may be a little out-of-the-box thinking, but it's a route that the Jaguars should be considering with their second first-rounder. The club placed the franchise tag on tackle Cam Robinson, which may have some writing off the need to bring in an offensive tackle this spring. However, given the one-year nature of Robinson's tag, it's tremendously important to have stability in front of Lawrence, which they could ensure they'll have by having an open mind about tackling a lineman at this spot. While TCU safety Trevon Moehrig or Clemson running back Travis Etienne are enticing options here, if someone like Teven Jenkins out of Oklahoma State or USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker are on the board, that would be the way to go in my mind. In fact, I wouldn't even be opposed to using some of their large draft capital to jump up a pick or two if either of those prospects makes their way into the early 20s.
As we've seen with Luck in Indy throughout his short career and Joe Burrow with the Bengals last season, protecting the franchise quarterback is priority No. 1 or you run the risk of that player getting hurt and not living up to his massive potential. If the Jags can take a step toward building a wall in front of Lawrence here, that should take precedent.
Go best player available at No. 33
As great as he is, Lawrence won't be able to fix this organization by himself and -- as we saw in 2020 -- the Jaguars have a ton of holes outside of the quarterback position. While it's a bit more traditional for teams with a more complete roster to take the best-player-available approach, this could work to the Jaguars' benefit with the first pick in the second round. At No. 33 overall, there is bound to be a handful of players that surprisingly fell out of the first round and Jacksonville shouldn't have a specific position in mind to fill here. Instead, the Jags should let the board come to them and at that point see which way best suits the organization. For a team that has needs along the defensive line and in the secondary, it could be looking at fringe first-round prospects like Moehrig, corner Asante Samuel Jr. and/or defensive lineman Christian Barmore all staring at them at this spot. The best approach here -- in my opinion -- is to simply see what falls and take the prospect with the highest upside.
Bonus: Use Day Two to add weapons for Lawrence
In all, the Jaguars have three picks on Day Two (No. 33, No. 45, and No. 65). While my ideal approach is to go best player available at No. 33 as you read above, this should be the area where Jacksonville looks to add weapons for Lawrence if that's part of its draft mission. The club already has some solid pieces waiting for Lawrence at TIAA Bank Field in receivers DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr and Marvin Jones. That's also not mentioning 2020 rookie standout James Robinson in the backfield. With that in mind, more pressing positions -- the O-line, front-seven, and secondary -- should be reserved for those higher picks (No. 25 and No. 33) rather than bringing in a back or a receiver there. Instead, there's likely more bang for your buck in this pocket of the draft where Alabama back Najee Harris, Purdue receiver Rondale Moore and/ore tight end Pat Freiermuth out of Penn State are possibly still available.
Here's the prospects CBS NFL Draft writer Josh Edwards has the Jaguars taking in his mock draft:
Round (overall pick)
Trevor Lawrence (QB)
Trevon Moehrig (S)
Christian Barmore (DT)
Tyson Campbell (CB)
Michael Carter (RB)
Jackson Carman (G/OT)
Dazz Newsome (WR)
Dan Moore Jr. (OT)
Tre McKitty (TE)
Ivan McPherson (K)