JaguarReport Mailbag, Week 17: What Could Lawrence Mean for Rest of Jaguars Roster?

Trevor Lawrence is now likely headed to Jacksonville. How does it change what the future is for the team?
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We have never had a mailbag with this many submissions, and for good reason. Trevor Lawrence and the unimaginable hype his name brings have become a new centerpiece of the Jacksonville Jaguars' future, leading to one of the most interesting offseasons in team history. 

With this in mind, there are more questions about the Jaguars than ever. In an effort to deliver our views on some of those questions, we took to social media to do just that. 

Q: With the benefit of hindsight do you think CJ Henderson was the right pick at 9 or would you have done something different there, say one of the good-looking OTs like Becton in preparation for your QB next draft?

A: This is a tough one. In hindsight, Justin Jefferson would be the best pick simply because he is the best rookie in the NFL this season. He is a legit No. 1 receiver and has already broken plenty of records. Mekhi Becton and Tristan Wirfs would have strong arguments to make, too. 

With that said, I don't think I would have necessarily had done differently. I didn't think then that CJ Henderson was worth a top-10 pick, but his flashes have kind of shown me the vision the Jaguars had. They had the biggest cornerback need in the NFL and had a left tackle already, so I think it was, for now, the right pick. If he busts, it is a different conversation, but I was impressed by him before his injury. 

Q: What position do you focus on with the second first-round pick? 

A: It can be a few different ones because I think it would be unwise to back yourself into a corner and force a pick. With that said, I think cornerback, defensive tackle, wide receiver, safety, tight end, and offensive tackle all have arguments. Wide receiver would be the most surprising, but maybe they want to give Trevor Lawrence a plethora of weapons. The other ones are pretty obvious, but the needs at cornerback and defensive tackle are the two most significant. 

Q: Which players have moved from the fringe to firmly in the team's future plans this year?

A: James Robinson is an obvious one, but others exist. Doug Costin went from inactive rookie backup to starting three-technique and it looks like he has a legit future as a rotational run defender. Collin Johnson started the year as the No. 5 wide receiver but had a mini-breakout at the second-half mark of the season. Sidney Jones may not be firmly in the team's plans, but he did go from afterthought backup to starting-quality cornerback before injuries ended his season. 

Q: What are the odds Trevor actually returns to school for another year, and do you think winning the CFP factors in at all to his decision to leave or stay?

A: Low. Trevor Lawrence was honored at Clemson's Senior Day and he has already kind of done it all at the college level. Winning another title would likely mean the world to him, but I think he is set on the NFL. Again, though, that is just my opinion and me assuming. 

Q: Out of Chark, Conley, & Cole, who isn’t on the roster next year? Also, what’s the future (with the Jags) for Westbrook?

A: Conley. Cole may not be on the roster either, but there is a better chance the Jaguars bring him back than Conley. Cole has gotten better over the last two years and climbed the depth chart, while Conley has gone in the opposite direction. Conley is a fantastic leader and locker room presence, but bringing him back would be curious. Dede Westbrook faces a similar issue, though it is even less likely the Jaguars bring him back now that he has sustained a season-ending injury. He was already the No. 6 wide receiver on the depth chart when healthy. 

Q: What 1 weapon (besides Kyle Pitts) would you want to get Lawrence in the draft?

A: Jaylen Waddle. Devonta Smith has gotten a lot of the hype, and deservedly so, but Waddle is the type of receiver the Jaguars are desperately missing. They have plenty of size at receiver, but they don't have the electric sparkplug who can make defenders look silly in space. Laviska Shenault fits that bill, but mostly due to his power. Waddle, meanwhile, would give the Jaguars an amazingly electric receiver to win at all three levels of the field. 

Q:  Jaguars have two 1st round picks. Who should we take with the second 1st round pick?

A: This is tough to say right now. I lean South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn or Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore. They would fill giant needs on the defense with high-ceiling talents. Kyle Pitts would, of course, be a great option but the needs on defense are a bit greater at this point.

Q: What type of offense fits Trevor Lawrence the best and who are some coaches that could come in and successfully implement such an offense?

A: I think any offense that incorporates some of the same college concepts Clemson runs would be ideal, but Lawrence is so talented and multi-dimensional that he fits any type of offense. He could be the centerpiece of a west coast offense that utilizes play-action or he could push the ball downfield at will. Brian Daboll's offenses in Buffalo would fit Lawrence perfectly considering the aggressive passing concepts and ability to use athleticism at quarterback. Jim Caldwell, Pete Carmichael, and Arthur Smith are other names that make sense.

Q: What is the state of our offensive line?

A: Other than left tackle, the offensive line looks like it will remain more or less the same. The interior was the highlight of the unit this season, with Andrew Norwell and A.J. Cann each having their best seasons as Jaguars. Brandon Linder missed several games with injury, but he was arguably the AFC's top center in 2020 before he got hurt.

Right tackle Jawaan Taylor needs to improve a fair bit in 2021, but he has at least settled in at right tackle as the season has inched toward finishing. He hasn't lived up to most expectations for him this season, but it is hard to think the Jaguars would give up on him after two years, especially considering how impressive his rookie season was. 

Left tackle Cam Robinson is likely the biggest free agent question facing the roster this year. He has just one game left on his rookie contract and it remains to be seen whether the Jaguars will attempt to retain him. The Jaguars could look to give him a second deal and ensure Trevor Lawrence isn't protected by a rookie left tackle, or they could let him walk, though this would create a major need at left tackle. 

Q: Which veteran QB should the Jags bring in to back up Trevor Lawrence? 

A: Would Ryan Fitzpatrick be the worst idea in the world? He is a proven leader and has been a major influence on every young quarterback he has been around. That is the type of teammate the Jaguars should aim to get for Lawrence in the event they want a new quarterback as the 2021 backup.

Q: What free agents do you think we should try to sign ?

A: John Johnson III, William Jackson, and Leonard Williams. All would fill massive needs and would give the team a trio of playmakers on defense that they haven't had for all of 2020.

Q: What position would you target the hardest in free agency?

A: Defensive tackle or safety. The safety class is absolutely stacked at each tier and there is no real reason the Jaguars shouldn't upgrade across from Jarrod Wilson, or potentially even make an upgrade over him. Defensive tackle, meanwhile, is a major need considering the lack of pass-rush the Jaguars have gotten from the interior of their defense this season. They need a sack artist who can push the pocket nearly as badly as they need a franchise quarterback.

Q: How do you think the Jag approach the other corner position?... I really like Patrick Surtain Jr.

A: I think they look to add both a top talent in the draft and free agency. They badly need to add a veteran to their cornerback group considering the only real veteran they have there now is set to be a free agent in D.J. Hayden. The lack of depth at the position as of now suggests they badly need to make multiple investments into the position, so going after both a veteran and a talented rookie makes sense. 

Q: Is this the best job opening ever? Guaranteed shot at a generational QB, 5 picks top 66, 11 picks overall, lots of young talent, most cap space in a year where you may not have to overpay talent (as much). Which opening in recent memory eclipses the Jags right now?

A: The Cleveland Browns job opening when John Dorsey got it was pretty special, though maybe not as impressive as this because there wasn't a Trevor Lawrence involved. The Colts job was impressive when they got Luck, so maybe that one? It is a short list one way or another.

Q: I’d like to know when we can interview some of the personnel people on teams headed for the playoffs. Same for coaches on staffs headed for playoffs.  

A: Once the regular season is over, the Jaguars can talk to anyone they want. Whether the interviews get granted or accepted is another question, but the Jaguars are allowed to talk to any team's employees once Week 17 is over.

Q: What’s one very underrated benefit about us getting Trevor Lawrence?

A: More primetime games. The Jaguars haven't been on Monday Night Football or Sunday Night Football in nearly a decade, but there is no chance that doesn't change with Lawrence in the fold. The Bengals just got two primetime games thanks to Joe Burrow. There is no real reason to think that team was worth having primetime games other than the fact that they had the No. 1 pick. I expect the same to happen with the Jaguars and Lawrence.

Q: Do you think the Jags hire a GM or coach first?

A: For weeks, I thought general manager. Right now, though, I think they get a coach to be a program builder before having him help find their next general manager to serve as his partner. The Jaguars have tried every other type of organizational structure, so why not this one? 

Q: What confidence do you have that ownership can make the right hires at GM and (potentially) Head Coach to ensure the draft picks, cap space and number 1 pick build a contender?

A: Scale of 1-10? Probably 5, but that is just based on the fact that they have failed at these types of hires a few different times in the past decade. They have a more lucrative and perhaps easier to navigate offseason facing them this year since the job is so much more appealing, but it is fair to have some doubt just based on the results of the past few years.

Q: What is plan B if Trevor goes back to school?

A: Zach Wilson or Justin Fields, or pray some other team gives up a haul of picks for the No. 1 selection. This would be a doomsday scenario, but the Jaguars could still potentially benefit from it or even find a franchise-worthy quarterback.

Q: How do you think a change of FO/Coaching and the Lawrence effect will change players' perception of signing in Jax?

A: I think the perception has already changed to a degree. The Jaguars have done a lot of image rebuilding in the last year or so, which was necessary following the Tom Coughlin debacle. With that said, a new regime and the nation's best quarterback prospect obviously makes them that much more appealing of a landing spot.

Q: What are the financials on cutting Norwell this off-season?

A: The Jaguars would save $9 million while taking on $6 million in dead cap. For context, it would have been $18 million in dead cap had they released him this offseason. 

Q: If the Jags extend Cam, should they still draft a lineman in one of the first 3 rounds?

A: Yes, but that is because they need more depth across the board. They need a future center just in case Linder's injury issues continue down the road, while Andrew Norwell and A.J. Cann would be entering the end of their contracts in Jacksonville. Throw in the fact that a swing tackle would be needed to push Jawaan Taylor, and a lineman is a serious priority. 

Q: Should Gardner Minshew be the backup in 2021?

A: As of now, why not? He has starting experience and could likely fill in for a pinch over a course of a few weeks in any event Trevor Lawrence can't play. If the Jaguars get a good trade offer, they should consider it. Otherwise, Minshew would make a fine backup option. 

Q: Once Lawrence declares, if you’re the Jags, would you start negotiating with him on a contract? And if you can get it agreed to, would you tell him to skip the combine and pro day?

A: Well, not much needs to be negotiated anymore. Contracts for top picks are kind of already in place due to the CBA, which is why you rarely see the stories on contracts and the No. 1 pick like we did with Sam Bradford and those before him. 

With that said, Lawrence should still be at the combine strictly so teams can talk with him. Whether he should throw (Joe Burrow didn't) is a different question, to which the answer is probably no. 

Q: Thoughts on LT? I think I prefer letting Cam walk, sign a veteran FA and then use the top draft picks on different positions. But I'm also not very familiar with all the LT prospects so maybe there are good ones you wouldn't pass up around 20.

A: I would likely offer Cam Robinson an extension, similar to the one Dion Dawkins got from the Buffalo Bills (4-year, $58.3 million contract with the Buffalo Bills with $29.5 million guaranteed), There is no reason to enter the 2021 season with Trevor Lawrence having a rookie protect his blindside when the Jaguars could instead keep their consistent, if unspectacular, left tackle. There are good left tackle prospects in this year's class, but signing Robinson wouldn't be an investment that would hinder the team considering how much cap space they are projected to have.