The Jacksonville Jaguars are a week and a half from free agency beginning…and then only a month and a half from arguably the biggest draft in franchise history, with the club owning the No. 1 overall pick.
As such, it’s not a surprise the staff under new Head Coach Urban Meyer have been deep in film study and player evaluations. It’s been something to get used to for Meyer, but a welcome change in the day-to-day aspects of the job for the first-time NFL head coach. Appearing with his former podcast host Buddy Martin for an episode of the Buddy Martin Show earlier this week, Meyer explained the foundation for the franchise’s current operation in both free agency and the NFL Draft.
“The one thing I've always heard about the NFL, and now that I've witnessed it and lived it, it's all football. It's all—there's, there's two silos; one silo is the personnel and that's talent acquisition. That’s, first is free agency which is about to be upon us. And then the draft, NFL draft and that's obviously college players.
“You don't have academic, you don't have class checks. You know, on weekends, you're actually, you got time. Because I actually feel like I'm cheating the organization because in college, you go home and I used to have a chair, a certain chair, I'd go sit, grab a glass of wine on a weekend, and I would sit and make my 10 recruiting calls.
“Especially the last half of my career, that occupied well over 50% of your time. Especially if you are in a place like Florida and Ohio State where you, I mean, you're recruiting against Alabama, Clemson every day. Every day you're recruiting against them. So there's none of that now.”
Meyer was hired almost two months ago (January 14) and took just under a full month to assemble his staff. With that group having now been together for just over three weeks, the staff have worked their way through the majority of free agency evaluation according to Meyer.
“This is a collaborative effort between the personnel department and coaching. It's very challenging because you're not allowed to do the typical 'bring a guy in, get to know and have him on the board, study how much he understands the game, get to know him as a human being.'
"So we're going to do a lot of behind-the-scenes work on these guys and find out. I'm so committed to make sure we get the right people in this program, I mean, in this organization, and we all are. And, and we have to do a great job of that. So that [was] actually done [Wednesday].”
Teams can begin officially negotiating contracts on March 15. Free agency kicks off on March 17. Clubs have until March 9 to apply the franchise tag to a player.
The NFL Draft begins on April 29. As owners of the No. 1 pick, the Jaguars are on the clock, although it’s a near-given the selection will be Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The staff has still been doing their due diligence, reportedly talking with BYU quarterback Zach Wilson as well. And with 11 total picks in the draft, there is still a lot of homework to conduct.
As Meyer went on to explain, the personnel department devoted to the draft has been working on evaluations and Meyer along with the rest of the coaching staff were set to begin their work on the draft-eligible players on Thursday.
“Now the coaches for two weeks just dive as deep as you can into the videotape.”
In between free agency and the draft, the Jaguars will start offseason workouts. As a team with a new head coach, the club can begin their offseason work on April 5. It will be the first time Meyer will really get a chance to be around his entire team.
“You know the different thing is you don't see many players. You see maybe 15 to 20 of them. You're not allowed to have a team meeting yet, you're not allowed to—when you do get with a players—talk football-related stuff; it's more just getting to know them. So there's a lot of rules that you can't do.”
With the calendar now in March, the offseason is in full swing. And with the changes around the franchise make this one of the most important offseasons in Jacksonville Jaguars history.