For the Jacksonville Jaguars, there is only one quarterback who matters in this month's NFL Draft: Clemson's Trevor Lawrence.
But that doesn't mean the rest of this year's quarterback class can't make a big impact on the Jaguars and their future.
Lawrence is the crown jewel of the 2021 NFL Draft class and is set to be the most important person in the history of the Jaguars' franchise (believe me, this isn't hyperbolic). But while the Jaguars root for clocks to speed up so they can make it official already, they should also hope other teams in the league fall in love with a quarterback like they have fallen for Lawrence.
Simply put, other teams being in the quarterback business is good for Jacksonville, even if the Jaguars' only quarterback of interest is Lawrence.
The Jaguars will be selecting Lawrence at No. 1 overall on April 29, making him the team's first-ever No. 1 selection. This isn't a secret. Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer openly admitted to NBC Sports' Peter King that Lawrence is who he has zeroed in on, plus Meyer wasn't present at either the North Dakota State or BYU pro days to watch Trey Lance or Zach Wilson in person. Meyer and his top two offensive assistants (offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and passing game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) were front and present for Trevor Lawrence's pro day.
"I’d have to say that’s the direction we’re going. I’ll leave that up to the owner when we make that decision official. But I’m certainly not stepping out of line that that’s certainly the direction we’re headed," Meyer told King when asked if there was any mystery the Jaguars would be selecting Lawrence.
So if the Jaguars are locked in on Lawrence, and are already picking before any other team in the draft, then why does the movement of teams up or down the board for quarterbacks impact them?
The answer is simple -- the Jaguars have a potentially valuable trade piece in Gardner Minshew II. If teams move up for quarterbacks, then the pressure is on other quarterback-needy teams around the NFL to find solutions. Minshew could be the most appealing solution left once the top quarterbacks are off the board.
Minshew doesn't have the ceiling to save any team's quarterback situation the way that prospects like Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, or Trey Lance. Nor does he have the success and pedigree of Mac Jones, who figures to be a top-10 pick, if not the player the 49ers pick at No. 3 overall.
If a team like Washington, Chicago, Denver, or New England were to make a move up to draft the fourth or fifth quarterback in this class, the only real option for a potential 2021 starter or a high-end backup who could push a starting quarterback would be Minshew.
The quarterback market has dried up completely, leaving a barren wasteland of camp arms and journeyman passers. There are also only two starting-caliber quarterback prospects who are available to the rest of the NFL outside of Jacksonville, San Francisco, and the Jets.
Simply put, any of the teams listed above that miss out on one of this year's top quarterbacks will be put into a bind for the 2021 season. Yes, they all currently have starting quarterbacks under contract, but do Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cam Newton, Drew Lock, and Andy Dalton truly inspire enough confidence to not want to make a move?
Another team trading up the board for one of this year's top quarterback prospects means it is that much harder for a quarterback-needy team to get "their guy". The demand and the market simply do not match up. The Jaguars could take advantage of this, gaining leverage in trade talks and potentially netting a much higher pick for Minshew than they would otherwise be able to.
This is all working under the idea that the Jaguars would entertain trading Minshew. The Jaguars signed C.J. Beathard earlier this offseason to give them depth at quarterback, but Minshew is one of the better backups in the league and Urban Meyer has already thrown confidence behind him.
"At this point, no," Meyer said on March 19 when asked if the Jaguars were fielding offers on the 2019 sixth-rounder.
"At this point, I know Gardner [Minshew II] a little bit. He came in yesterday; we had a good visit. That’s the second time I spent time with him. 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."
There are plenty of reasons for the Jaguars to keep Minshew. But another draft trade for a quarterback would likely give them even more reasons to dangle him in trade talks. If the Jaguars could use the quarterback market to their advantage, they could potentially flip a backup and former sixth-round pick into a quality future draft pick.
The Jaguars' main focus at quarterback is and will continue to be Lawrence. But they should continue to keep their eyes on the quarterback market and the order of the draft because they are in a rare position to gain from movement at the position.