JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars are just over a week away from the franchise quarterback the team has been trying to find for two decades.
Trevor Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck (and maybe Peyton Manning), the fourth-highest quarterback prospect ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has ever rated, and a guy who has only played four games as a starter since his junior year has lost high school.
He’s so good that he led Gil Brandt to serve as nine future Hall of Famers in 29 seasons Dallas Cowboys‘Player’s Vice President, to describe him as follows: “Trevor Lawrence is [John] Elway athlete [and] Manning accuracy. I think you’re getting the best of both worlds. “A franchise that hasn’t done much right since the NFL’s best record in 1999 and has lost 10 or more games in nine of the last 10 seasons is expected to claim Lawrence with number 1 in the Next week’s draft (April 29 – May 1, ESPN / ESPN app) Jaguar fans – as well as those within the organization, especially with ticketing – are understandably thrilled and hope Lawrence is key to the franchise finally having one continued success and becomes an annual playoff contender.
But a bit of caution to mitigate the exaggerated expectations: drafting a quarterback with the first overall selection is no guarantee of a future Super Bowl appearance. Or even a playoff appearance. And in some cases not even a season with a winning record.
What does the story say
Eight of the 25 quarterbacks that have ranked number one overall since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970 have made it to a Super Bowl with the team that designed them, but only three have won a championship: Terry Bradshaw (Pittsburgh Steelers), Troy Aikman (Dallas Cowboys) and Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts). Three more – Jim Plunkett (Oakland / Los Angeles Raiders), John Elway (Denver Broncos) and Eli Manning (New York Giants) – won Super Bowls with subsequent teams, with Elway and Manning trading shortly after their draft.
Eli Manning, drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2004, is the last quarterback to win a Super Bowl first (2007 and 2011 seasons). Only two of the eleven quarterbacks who have finished first overall since Eli Manning have made it to a Super Bowl – Cam Newton, with the Carolina Panthers, and Jared Goff, with the Los Angeles Rams, Lost the game. Five of the eleven haven’t even reached the playoffs. Bradshaw (four) and Aikman (three) are the only quarterbacks of this type to have won multiple Super Bowls with the teams who designed them. Eli Manning won two with the Giants, Elway two with the Broncos, and Plunkett two with the Raiders. Somehow – maybe because of Tom Brady’s ridiculous seven rings (and counting?) – Super Bowl wins have become one of the defining quarterback stats. That might be a little unfair because even those multiple Super Bowl winners had tons of help, whether it was Hall of Fame recipients or running backs, top 10 defenses, or multiple all-pros and pro bowlers.
• Bradshaw played on the offensive with four other Hall of Famers (center Mike Webster, who knocked Franco Harris and wide receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth back) in addition to defending the steel curtain, which included four other Hall of Famers.
• Aikman played with wide receiver Michael Irvin and ran back Emmitt Smith, both Hall of Famers, and Smith is the NFL’s leading rusher. Plus, the Cowboys ended up in the top 10 goal defense and overall defense for each of the three years they won the Super Bowl.
• Elway had three other Hall of Famers on the offensive: Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe and Gary Zimmerman. Elway’s two Super Bowl winning teams also finished 11th or better in goal defense and overall defense.
• Peyton Manning’s defense was ranked in the scoring and overall defense in the 1920s the year he won the Super Bowl with Indianapolis, but Edgerrin James and broad receiver Marvin Harrison went back to the Hall of Fame.
• Eli Manning had neither a Hall of Famer on offense nor a statistically strong defense, but he was helped by two incredible throws and catches in the late game and a rush of passes that annoyed him Tom Brady in both Super Bowl wins.
• Plunkett won his Super Bowls with his third team, the Raiders, after failing to do so with the Patriots (who designed it in 1971) and the 49ers. These Raiders championship teams had a lot of star power. On the offensive, they had four Hall of Famers: running back Marcus Allen, attacking Art Shell offensively, running out of Dave Casper and guarding Gene Upshaw. And they boasted three other defenders: the defensive end Howie Long, cornerback Mike Haynes and the defensive end Ted Hendricks.
Coaching cannot be overlooked either. Here is the list of head coaches for the six quarterbacks who were the first to win Super Bowls overall: Chuck Noll (Steelers), Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer (Cowboys), Tom Coughlin (Giants), Mike Shanahan (Broncos) and Tony Dungy ( Colts)) and Tom Flores (Raiders). Noll, Johnson, and Dungy are in the Hall of Fame. Flores will be launched this summer.
Urban Meyer has never coached a failure in the NFL, but he’s one of the best coaches in college football history. He won two national titles in Florida and one in the state of Ohio, and completed a combined 148-24 with five conference titles at those schools. That might take some of the pressure off Lawrence.
“Of course you will feel some of that weight every time you are the first choice,” said Kirk Herbstreit, an analyst at ESPN College Football. “But as for the franchise, which has to go in a different direction, I think the timing is good for him because you have a high-profile head coach in the first year who has a lot of people every week analyzing his every move much like the quarterback.
“If that was a Doug Marrone, everything would be on Trevor Lawrence because of him [Marrone] has been there for a few years. “
There are pips on the clock
Where are the jaguars and Lawrence after 8:30 p.m.? ET on April 29th?
Then the real work begins. Over the next few seasons, the Jaguars will have to build the roster with multiple players who will later become Pro Bowlers or All-Pros (and maybe even Hall of Famers). Even if, as Brandt believes, Lawrence becomes the Elway Manning combo, he’ll still need help. ESPN’s Mike Clay has it Jags’ roster is assessed 31st out of 32 NFL teams participating in the draft.
The Jaguars have four players who each made a Pro Bowl on the roster (defensive end Josh Allenwide receiver DJ Chark Jr.., Cornerback Shaquill Griffin and linebackers Joe Schobert), but only Allen and Chark did it with the jaguars. Returnees Jamal Agnew is an all-pro.
While the game’s greatest quarterbacks had help, they were key to winning these Super Bowls. That puts Lawrence under tremendous pressure and expectations as every quarterback comes first overall. But maybe it’s a little more unfair in Jacksonville because it looks like they are relying on Lawrence to essentially save the franchise. The jaguars always seem to be seen as a relocation risk, and owner Shad Khan is constantly looking for new local sources of income, which included an annual home game in London from 2013-19. This contract with the league expired after last season – when the Jaguars wanted to play two games there, which did not happen because of the pandemic – and the team would like to renew.
Sustained success and the battle for a championship would certainly generate more local revenue. Making Lawrence the next big young QB in the league would be one of the keys to that.
“Every player [taken atop the draft]It’s like having to win three or four Super Bowls to explain what it is, “said former Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik.” When he’s in the postseason, he’s doing his job. But Trevor is a rare guy. If you speak to any player at Clemson in the past three years, they have received praise over the years. I think it’s an opportunity for him to join a team that is a little more laden than people think and that has the chance to be aggressive. “High expectations are nothing new to Lawrence. He took on the rookie role as a starter and went to Cartersville, Georgia High School to win two state titles, was the nation’s No. 1 recruit and followed suit.” Deshaun Watson at Clemson.
“I don’t think he’s going to see anything in Jacksonville that will make him feel weight that he hasn’t felt before, and to be honest, [it] is what he knows, “said Herbstreit.” He’s known this weight to varying degrees since he was in middle school. I know that’s probably his greatest strength: how he’s going to deal with the pressure to flip a franchise. “
This is a tough question historically, and some really good quarterbacks have failed or have failed to achieve sustainable success. But there’s a belief that Lawrence could be the third quarterback to get first overall to reach a Super Bowl since Eli Manning in 2004. “I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be a good quarterback,” said Brandt. “You don’t win as many championships in high school as a true freshman in Georgia, where football is very good, and then you win [a championship] at Clemson when you have nothing to yourself. “