The Jacksonville Jaguars have one of the most important decisions in franchise history facing them this April. For the first time since the club entered the league, the Jaguars hold the No. 1 overall pick.
But the Jaguars, at least publicly, are not conflating important with easy.
"Easy? I don’t know that that word exists in the National Football League. So it certainly puts you in the driver’s seat, but there are no easy decisions in the National Football League," Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke said on Thursday during his introductory press conference.
"You work through the process, you do the best job you can, and then you make the decision based on the knowledge that you’ve acquired.”
The process is one that Baalke and new head coach Urban Meyer will have to ensure they are in lockstep throughout. Maybe it isn't easy in theory considering the Jaguars will go down the road of a thorough and detailed evaluation process, but all signs point to one direction.
"No, we’ve talked. That’s a three-month, two-month—I think we all know there’s a couple incredible players out there, but my focus has been on the staff," Meyer said Thursday. "But to say we haven’t talked about it, of course we have, and that’s going to be a deep, deep dive."
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been the presumptive No. 1 overall pick for the 2021 NFL Draft for several years now. Nothing suggests this changed when the woeful 1-15 Jaguars secured the draft's top pick with a 15-game losing streak.
Jacksonville has started six different quarterbacks since Week 16 of the 2018 season. Blake Bortles, Cody Kessler, Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew II, Jake Luton, and Mike Glennon all had chances under center for the Jaguars, but the Jaguars have a 12-36 record over the last three seasons in large part due to the failures of that group.
In Lawrence, the Jaguars could have a generational quarterback prospect join the team for the first time. Jacksonville has had success with players such as Mark Brunell and David Garrard in the past, but the Jaguars have never had a bona fide franchise quarterback like Lawrence is supposed to be.
As a result, there is zero doubting the importance of the No. 1 pick. Meyer last week said that who the Jaguars pick as their next quarterback would be one of the most important decisions of his lifetime, an assessment Baalke agrees with.
“[It] couldn’t have been better said. Anytime you have the first pick in the draft and you’re making a decision that’s this impactful to the organization, there’s challenges with that," Baalke said. "So it’s an extremely important decision and I’m looking forward to going through the process with Coach and ownership to make that decision.”
The Jaguars are unlikely to indicate to the media or public anytime soon that they are ready to turn in the card. Instead, the team will continue to do their due diligence, while also reminding everyone they are doing it.
This doesn't change the near-certainty that Lawrence will be the pick, but the Jaguars won't announce it today and now. But Jaguars owner Shad Khan even acknowledged himself the need to have a decision made up well before draft night.
“I think to add to that, there is transparency, talk and communication well before the draft. You just can’t be talking when you are on the clock. That is a little too late and that is a key lesson for me," Khan said. "The earlier you have them and you know where everybody [stands], that’s how you get the right decision for the organization.”