In Urban Meyer's first year in the NFL, there is going to be a lot of learning on the fly. He has already gotten a taste of that learning curve in free agency, but yet another sharp turn in his NFL journey will take place in less than a month as the 2021 NFL Draft kicks off.
We all know the Jaguars are picking Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but no draft begins and ends with one pick (unless you are the Mike Ditka era Saints). What Meyer and the Jaguars do with their other nine picks, including the No. 25, No. 33, and No. 45 overall pick, will help shape their direction in 2021 and beyond to a great extent.
The question now is whether Meyer and the Jaguars will implement the same strategy in the draft that they did earlier in March in free agency. Will they place an emphasis on familiarity and follow in the path of one of Meyer's close friends in Jimmy Johnson? Or will they expand their horizons and bring in players they have yet to forge strong bonds with?
This is the first major philosophical phase of Meyer's career as an NFL team-builder. Nearly of the 12 free agents the Jaguars signed had heavy ties to at least one member of the Jaguars staff. So, could the Jaguars and Meyer do it again in April?
We have already examined which players would check off the boxes in this regard, but the conversation was renewed on Tuesday as Meyer was front and center for Ohio State's pro day, giving him one final up-close look at a group of prospects that is filled almost exclusively with players he coached or recruited to Columbus.
Meyer's former players were as ecstatic as ever to see their former coach as well, with Jaguar Report asking each draft-eligible prospect about their thoughts on the Jaguars' new general on the zoom following their pro day.
"I am really excited to see how it goes for Coach in Jacksonville. I am sure it will go very well knowing him," Buckeyes center Josh Myers said.
"And I would, you know, if Jacksonville drafts me then I am more than excited to reunite with Coach, no doubt about it.
But does Meyer's place at the top of Jacksonville's power structure mean Jaguars supporters should expect to see an influx of Ohio State prospects coming into Duval in the coming weeks?
This is a question that is tough to know now. If just going off the Jaguars' free agency strategy, one could reasonably expect for the Jaguars to target prospects Meyer knows personally at some point. Pete Carroll drafted two USC players in his first two years. Johnson drafted numerous Miami players throughout his short Cowboys tenure. There is a precedent.
And Meyer himself has already made a point to say that teams bringing in players they don't have much firsthand experience with isn't something he is overly comfortable with.
This could be just in terms of free agency, but it could also speak to the amount of emphasis Meyer himself places on the value of relationships. Such an emphasis that even Ohio State players themself note the potential edge they have in landing in Jacksonville.
"I think we do just because he has seen all of our work. He knows the culture here at Ohio State and he knows how we work," linebacker Pete Werner said.
"So I think that him seeing us today in person, it kind of, it showed -- it clarified it for the rest of his staff. So I do think we may have an edge but although, you never know. You never know."
But Meyer and his staff can't let themselves get tunnel vision. The draft pool is too large and the football landscape much too fast to focus on just players the Jaguars' staff, and Meyer specifically, coached or recruited as teenagers.
The Jaguars are coming off a 1-15 season and are entering the draft with an abundance of holes. There is a chance that at every pick they have, there will be an Ohio State prospect who makes sense for them. Players like Wyatt Davis and Shaun Wade especially.
But Meyer is too intelligent to paint himself into a corner. He knows he can't just draft players he knows just like the Jaguars can't just sign only players they know. And if he doesn't know this, then he and the Jaguars are a far step behind other teams and the Jaguars and the rest of the NFL will notice quickly.
But Meyer's legacy and influence in Ohio State is still a positive. The Jaguars own nine picks after they select Lawrence first overall and they have countless roster holes to fill. If Meyer thinks one of his guys can fill that void, chances are he is immensely confident in that specific player.
Meyer should and likely will utilize his immense Buckeyes connections. He is the newest architect of the Jaguars, and he will want to build a foundation he knows.
"I think he knows exactly how I am about, how I go to work every single day," Ohio State linebacker Justin Hillard said.
"I mean, Coach Meyer, when he was [he] here pretty much ran the special teams. And when he was here, I believe I was the best special team player in the country for two or three years straight. So yeah, he knows plenty about me.