In a few short weeks, the wait will be over. The 2021 NFL Draft will be here and the Jacksonville Jaguars will kick off the spectacle for the first time in franchise history.
Following the worst season in franchise history and 15 consecutive losses, the Jaguars are looking to make a splash to turn around one of the NFL's more stagnant franchises. The Jaguars are equipped with 10 draft picks to fuel that turnaround, including the No. 1 overall pick.
But where do the Jaguars need to improve? Who needs to be replaced? To answer these questions and more, we are taking a look at what each Jaguars position group looks like entering the final month before the draft. First, we start with the position with the most eyes on it: quarterback.
On the roster: Gardner Minshew II, C.J. Beathard, Jake Luton
The Jaguars' current quarterback depth chart looks just as you would expect it to a few weeks before they draft their new franchise passer. Between Gardner Minshew, C.J. Beathard, and Jake Luton, the Jaguars have three former draft picks with seven combined years of NFL experience and 35 combined starts, albeit Minshew is the only player among the three to win more than two of his starts.
Out of the three passers, Minshew is the most talented and the highest quality backup option. He threw 16 touchdowns to five interceptions on a bad Jaguars team last season and while he didn't play well, he has shown more playmaking ability than Beathard has in his career.
The Jaguars signed Beathard during the second phase of free agency after the former third-round pick spent four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. Beathard finished his first two seasons with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, but he had his best season in limited action in 2020 when he completed 63.5% of his passes for six touchdowns and zero interceptions. He will likely compete with Minshew to be Lawrence's backup.
Luton may be the odd man out once the Jaguars add their franchise quarterback to the mix. The former sixth-round pick started three games as a rookie last year and showed off a big arm but had issues with turnovers, throwing six interceptions and fumbling twice in three starts.
Offseason additions: C.J. Beathard
After weeks of speculation that the Jaguars would look toward signing former Urban Meyer student Alex Smith as Lawrence's backup, the Jaguars went a different route with their veteran quarterback addition. None of the coaches on the current roster have experience with Beathard, though passing game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer coached in the same division as him the last three seasons.
Beathard's first three NFL seasons didn't indicate he could be a quality NFL backup, but he showed some flashes in 2020 in Kyle Shanahan's offense. He set career highs in completion percentage, touchdown percentage, yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt, quarterback rating, NY/A, and ANY/A. He wasn't great, no, but he showed enough to give the Jaguars some confidence if he is indeed Lawrence's backup.
Offseason subtractions: Mike Glennon
Jacksonville's veteran answer at quarterback in 2020, Mike Glennon was never going to remain on the roster past last year. He was brought in on a one-year contract for a regime on its very last leg, though that regime did turn to him a considerable amount toward the end of the season when Luton's turnovers stalled the offense and Minshew stayed on the sidelines. Glennon completed 62% of his passes at 6.0 yards a pop in five starts, throwing seven touchdowns with five interceptions and two fumbles. Glennon signed with the New York Giants this offseason, effectively ending his Jaguars' tenure after one season.
Biggest question facing position before the draft: What will the Jaguars do with Gardner Minshew?
The only other question facing the Jaguars' quarterback room is what number Trevor Lawrence will wear. As of now, the Jaguars have a clear picture for their starting gig: Lawrence is going to start every single game in 2021 as long as he is healthy. The Jaguars are selecting him No. 1 overall so he can step in from day one and change the offense and franchise.
With that said, the Jaguars' backup position is in a state of flux. The Jaguars have hung onto Minshew throughout the course of the offseason thus far, opting not to trade him. While doing this, the quarterback trade market has mostly completely evaporated, with only the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots really making sense.
"At this point, no. At this point, I know Gardner [Minshew II] a little bit," Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said on March 22 when asked if the team was fielding offers for Minshew.
"This is all kind of new to me. I’m used to spending about five, six hours a day with our quarterback. January, February, that’s the days you get your quarterback ready to go. You can’t do that in the NFL. There’s a lot of anticipation about the first pick. I understand there’s a lot of conversation out there, but there’s been no decisions made. Gardner’s done some very good things here in Jacksonville and he’s a competitive maniac, which I really appreciate that about him. So, there’s been no decisions made."
At this point, it seems likely the Jaguars keep Minshew. They would most likely get decent value for him in a trade, but is it good enough value to move on from a talented backup who could start in the short-term if Lawrence ever goes down with injury? Regardless, Minshew's future after two years of Minshew Mania in Jacksonville still needs to be sorted out.
Draft prospects who fit: Trevor Lawrence
This is the easiest one we will answer at any point in this entire series.
No quarterback in this draft compares to Lawrence, even if there are other prospects worthy of being the No. 1 overall pick in any other draft. Lawrence has the best track record, the most consistent game, and the temperament to lead a franchise like the Jaguars toward relevancy after years in the cellar. If Lawrence can't save the Jaguars, can anyone?
Lawrence is 34-2 as a starter, having only lost in the College Football Playoffs (as a sophomore to LSU in the Championship and as a junior to Ohio State in the semifinals). As a freshman, Lawrence defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide for the National Championship. In his career, Lawrence completed 66% of his passes for 10,098 yards (8.9 yards per attempt, 9.8 adjusted yards per attempt) for 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also rushed for 943 yards and 18 touchdowns.