As much as some things change, the more tend to stay the same. That has been more true than ever for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021, with the franchise now just three games away from clinching the No. 1 overall pick for the second year in a row.
After Sunday's 30-16 loss at home to the Houston Texans, the 2-12 Jaguars officially own sole possession of the NFL's worst record for the first time this season -- just one year after going 1-15 and ending the year with the draft's top pick for the first time in franchise history.
With Sunday's loss, the Jaguars now have an inside track to the No. 1 pick and a chance to widen the gap in Week 16 when they take on the 3-11 New York Jets, who currently hold the No. 3 overall pick.
Sunday's game against Houston held considerable draft implications for the Jaguars, who fired head coach Urban Meyer on Thursday morning. The 3-11 Texans and the Jaguars were neck and neck for the No. 2 and No. 3 pick while the Lions were winless, but the Lions' recent pair of wins -- including Sunday's upset of the Cardinals -- pushed the Jaguars up to No. 1.
The latest team to have back-to-back No. 1 overall picks is the Cleveland Browns, who held the top pick in 1999 and 2000, then again in 2017 and '18. The former occurrence saw them shoot their shot with quarterback Tim Couch—who eventually led them to a playoff appearance—and Courtney Brown, who was plagued with injuries.
In 2017, the Browns took defensive end Myles Garrett before taking quarterback Baker Mayfield the next season.
The NFL has held 86 drafts and in that span, there have only seven occurrences of the same team having back-to-back No. 1 picks. The first time it happened was in the first two years of the draft with the Philadelphia Eagles holding the honor.
In 1939 and 1940, the Chicago Cardinals drafted first overall in two straight years, a part of a 10-year streak of losing seasons. In 1976 and 1977, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the No. 1 pick, drafting Lee Roy Selmon and Ricky Bell.
Tampa Bay received back-to-back No. 1 picks again a decade later in 1986 and 1987, while the Cincinnati Bengals selected Dan Wilkinson first overall in 1994 and Ki-Juna Carter first overall a year later.
The Jaguars currently look to be favorites to follow the Browns' strategy, though in reverse order. The Jaguars took Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 overall last April while the consensus top-two players in the 2022 NFL Draft so far are Oregon edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux and Michigan edge defender Aidan Hutchinson.
Having the No. 1 overall pick for the second year in a row could be potentially enticing for coaching candidates who are looking at the Jaguars job this offseason. The Meyer era went off the rails quickly, leaving the Jaguars' options open on the coaching circuit in 2022.
The Jaguars to this point have not been linked to any coaching candidates, but names such as Jim Caldwell, Byron Leftwich, Josh McDaniels, and Doug Pederson all make sense. To that point, the Jaguars will likely keep their last No. 1 overall pick in mind as they ultimately make a coaching hire.
"I mean, that's really not my focus right now. Right now, all I know is that Coach Bev is our head coach and everything else is still intact and that's what we're focused on moving forward, and just trying to get better," Lawrence said after Sunday's loss.
"I thought we moved the ball a lot better on offense today, took a step in the right direction. But we've just got to make plays down the stretch when we need them, third, fourth quarter. I've got to make the throws, guys got to make the catches. It's all of us. We've got to make more plays. I missed a big throw on third down like 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter. But it was nice to see us moving the ball again like we were earlier in the year. That was a step in the right direction, but we've got to finish."
The Jaguars will finish the season at the Jets, at New England, and at home against the Colts. The Jaguars will be underdogs in each game, with the latter two coming against playoff teams.