The Jacksonville Jaguars are slowly but surely marching along with the rest of the NFL to the start of the 2021 season, arguably the most anticipated season in franchise history. As fans count down the seconds until the debuts of Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars are putting in time, energy and sweat to prepare for the season.
From now up until the start of Week 1, we will see the Jaguars grow as a team in Meyer's vision. The 90-man roster will be cut down as position battles take place throughout the roster.
As this offseason progresses, we will take a look at each position and give our best guess as to what the depth chart will look like come Week 1 -- at least based off the information we currently have.
First, we will start with the most important position: Quarterback.
The Jaguars started three different quarterbacks during 2020's disastrous 1-15 season, with Gardner Minshew, Mike Glennon and Jake Luton all taking snaps under center on Sundays. The Jaguars revamped the quarterback room through free agency and the draft this offseason to give a facelift to the position as a result.
So, how do we see the quarterback depth chart playing out as things stand today? We break it down below.
No. 1 QB: Trevor Lawrence
There isn't a more obvious depth chart projection on the Jaguars' entire roster, even in the middle of June. Teams don't select quarterbacks at No. 1 overall to sit them on the bench, especially not teams coming off 1-15 seasons with no other established quarterbacks. And especially not when that quarterback is Trevor Lawrence, a rare prospect who is widely considered to be the best talent to enter the league at quarterback since Andrew Lucky nearly a decade ago.
Lawrence will have to "earn" his spot of course, but the Jaguars should be expected to give him every opportunity humanly possible to do so. The Jaguars didn't draft Lawrence and make him the face of the franchise to sit him behind Gardner Minshew or C.J. Beathard. Lawrence has already looked the part during offseason activities as well, leading to Urban Meyer applauding him for his progress thus far.
"He’s just making steady progress. I want to say—I can’t give you percentage of the installation, but we’ve been at it now for three weeks and one of the advantages that we’ve had with Trevor [is] that we’ve kind of made a decision—I can’t remember exactly when—we started working with him a good month before practices started," Meyer said last week. "So, he’s been great, his retention has been great, execution has improved. I just like—and so do I, I speak on behalf of [Brian] Schottenheimer and [Darrell] Bevell—his seriousness and his approach to this has been fantastic.”
No. 2 QB: Gardner Minshew
With Lawrence locked in as the Jaguars' starting quarterback, the only real question among Jacksonville's quarterback depth chart is who will serve as Lawrence's backup and the Jaguars' No. 2 passer. The Jaguars have been an example in recent years of the importance in quarterback depth, so the backup quarterback job is still an important one even with Lawrence in the fold.
As of today, it is hard to imagine anyone else but Minshew being that quarterback. Minshew had his fair share of struggles in 2020, but so did virtually every player on the team. He is not a long-term starting-caliber quarterback, but he can perform and win games in the short-term, even with his limitations. He needs the right offense and support system around him of course, but there are far worse backups in the NFL than Minshew.
Ultimately, Minshew is just the better quarterback when compared to Beathard. Beathard has the bigger salary and bigger arm, but Minshew makes quicker decisions, plays with more confidence and is simply just much more of a natural playmaker. Perhaps Minshew plateaus in training camp or is traded before Week 1, but if neither happens then he should be Lawrence's backup in Week 1.
No. 3 QB: C.J. Beathard
It is hard to see the Jaguars releasing C.J. Beathard outright considering they signed him to a two-year deal with $2.75 million guaranteed. Releasing Beathard this year would result in $2.5 million in dead cap, while releasing him next season results in just $750,000 in dead cap. With that said, it says something that the options surrounding Beathard currently look to be either as the No. 3 quarterback or as a potential surprise cut.
Beathard has a bigger contract and higher draft pedigree than Minshew and fits more of the pocket passer prototype than him as well, but that is where his advantages end to this point. Minshew has been a more productive passer over the last two regular seasons and has outshined Beathard during OTAs this year. If Beathard improves exponentially during training camp and shows a better sense of accuracy and downfield touch, then the Jaguars could justify him as the No. 2 quarterback due to his contract. But if he doesn't, then his best fit is as the team's third quarterback.
Practice Squad: Jake Luton
The Jaguars opted to release Josh Dobbs and keep Jake Luton as their third quarterback last season, but Luton likely won't have the same luck this offseason. The 2020 sixth-round pick was handpicked by the previous Jaguars' coaching staff and front office as a developmental quarterback project, but the new regime has no such ties to him.
Luton has a big arm, but he is too inaccurate and makes too many risky decisions to be giving much look as a potential backup. He has the arm to warrant keeping him on the practice squad to continue his development under Meyer and his staff, but the Jaguars can't afford to look at him as an option for the backup quarterback job.