While No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence has yet to be named the Jacksonville Jaguars' starting quarterback, there are few indications that suggest Lawrence won't be the Jaguars' man under center in Week 1. And once he does drop back for that first pass, a new era for the Jaguars' will begin.
How exactly will that new era play out, however? There are endless possibilities for Lawrence's rookie season and beyond. Could he and Urban Meyer take the Jaguars' from worst-to-first in a surprising underdog story? Or could Meyer's Jaguars struggle in his first NFL season, leading to Lawrence facing his own struggles?
Considering all possible outcomes, we take a look at five bold predictions we have for Lawrence's rookie season. From regular-season awards to ups and downs of a rookie quarterback, we break it all down here.
Lawrence starts all 17 games
While this may seem a bit obvious, it shouldn't be considered as much of a lock for rookie quarterbacks taken in the first round to start every single game, at least not based on history. Only 19 rookie quarterbacks have started all 16 games in NFL history, with Kyler Murray's 2019 campaign making him the first rookie passer to start an entire season since Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz did it in 2016.
With that said, seven of those quarterbacks were No. 1 overall picks. Recent top picks like Murray and Jameis Winston started all 16 games, but the same could not be said for Joe Burrow (injury) and Baker Mayfield (started the year as a backup). Starting 16 games in a year would be a major feat all by itself, but starting every game in the league's first-ever 17-game regular season would be quite the accomplishment.
While Lawrence dealt with a minor hamstring issue during OTAs and had shoulder surgery, he was a testament to durability during his Clemson career, and the Jaguars have a veteran line and strong running game behind him. He shouldn't be put into as many dangerous situations as Burrow was last season, either.
Lawrence's rookie season helps Darrell Bevell get a head coach interview in 2022
Just as Rusell Wilson's stellar first year in the NFL helped Jaguars offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell become a head coach candidate in the past, we predict the same will happen for Bevell next offseason as a result of Lawrence's play. Bevell has gotten head coaching interviews before. The former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator and interim head coach got a look for the Lions' head coaching gig this past offseason before the franchise decided on Dan Campbell. He has also gotten interviews with the Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears, garnering interest from both following Wilson's wildly successful rookie season.
The current trend in the NFL is to find offensive minds to lead franchises, especially those who work closely with quarterbacks. If Bevell can add a successful rookie season from Lawrence to his track record, then it would be hard to say he wouldn't be one of the top candidates for a team looking to hire a coach who can develop a young passer. This isn't to say a team will finally decide on Bevell as the man to lead their team each Sunday, but we do think he at least will get some interviews, leading to Urban Meyer having to put together potential contingency plans.
Lawrence becomes first Offensive Rookie of the Year in Jaguars' history
Quarterbacks are often the favorites to win offensive rookie of the year. Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert have been the last two winners, while six quarterbacks have won the award since 2010 -- including No. 1 overall picks Sam Bradford (2010), Cam Newton (2011), and then Murray in 2019. There is a recent precedent for quarterbacks to win the award, and 2021 will likely be more of the same considering the draft had five quarterbacks selected in the first round.
Ultimately, we think Lawrence makes Jaguars history and becomes the first-ever Jaguar to win rookie of the year. Justin Fields, Mac Jones and Trey Lance aren't locks to start in Week 1 and put together an entire season of production, while Lawrence has more proven playmakers and play-callers around him than New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson. Kyle Pitts will likely fight Lawrence and Wilson tooth and nail for the award, but we believe Lawrence's situation and status as a quarterback help him make Jaguars history.
Lawrence breaks most major Jaguars' rookie passing records
As stated earlier, Lawrence gets a bit of an expanded sample size than past rookie quarterbacks due to the 17-game regular-season being implemented in 2021. As a result of this and the fact that no other Jaguars' rookie quarterback has started in Week 1, Lawrence should get a great chance to break franchise rookie passing records that aren't exactly daunting to begin with.
Considering the below-average production from Blaine Gabbert, Blake Bortles and Byron Leftwich in their rookie seasons, no other Jaguars' first-round pick has really set a high bar for Lawrence to aim to exceed. The best rookie quarterback in franchise history, and the holder of most of the team's major rookie passing records, is 2019 sixth-rounder Gardner Minshew.
Minshew, who started 12 games and appeared in 14 as a rookie, set records for wins (six), completion percentage among players with more than 50 passes (60.64%), yards (3,271), touchdowns (21), touchdown percentage (4.50%), interception percentage (1.28%), quarterback rating (91.2), yards per attempt (6.96), adjusted yards gained per pass attempt (7.28) and adjusted net yards gained per pass attempt (6.44).
With this in mind, Lawrence has every advantage possible to break most of these records. The touchdowns and yards figures alone should be more than reachable milestones for Lawrence considering the 17-game schedule, his own individual talent and the fact that he has numerous pass-catching weapons at his disposal in DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Marvin Jones, and potentially rookie running back Travis Etienne.
Lawrence has a losing record as a starter for the first time
Lawrence has done nothing but win games since high school football. He had a 52-2 record and two state titles at Cartersville High School in Georgia, while he went on to win a National Championship and put up a 34-2 record as a starter at Clemson. But while Lawrence has been an exemplary example of a winning quarterback, there is a good chance he flirts with a losing record as a rookie starter.
For one, the 17-game season means a quarterback now has to win nine games instead of eight to have a season of .500 of better. Lawrence will also be on a relatively young roster that just a season ago was the worst team in the NFL with a 1-15 record. The Jaguars' roster matched their record, so even with the work done this offseason, more has to be done before the Jaguars can become truly a force to be reckoned with. Add in Urban Meyer's status as a rookie head coach, and there are a lot of factors to suggest eight wins may be a realistic ceiling instead of floor for the 2021 Jaguars.