Why Urban Meyer Isn't Likely to Change the Jaguars' Trevor Lawrence Plans

The Jacksonville Jaguars appear set to hire Urban Meyer as their next head coach. So, what would that mean for Trevor Lawrence and potentially Justin Fields?
Publish date:

It appears for all intents and purposes the Jacksonville Jaguars will soon have their new head coach in Urban Meyer. There has been no official word from the Jaguars yet, but it isn't hard to read between the lines. 

This leads to a series of questions, such as wondering if Meyer is the right coach to lead the Jaguars into the future, how he will translate from college to the NFL, and more. 

But the question that has been raised the most, at least outside of Jacksonville, has been what Meyer's potential addition could mean for the No. 1 overall pick. 

There isn't any doubting what position the Jaguars will draft with the top pick. Owner Shad Khan essentially admitted the team is already banking to be their selection once the 2021 NFL Draft comes around. 

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been the presumptive pick for the Jaguars ever since they secured the No. 1 pick in Week 16. But does the addition of Meyer make that situation any more unpredictable? Does Justin Fields coming directly out of Ohio State's juggernaut program impact Meyer's and the Jaguars' plans for the top pick?

In short, the answer is likely a clear and emphatic "no" for several reasons. 

The debate of whether Meyer will take Fields as he takes control of the Jaguars' football operations will surely rage for the next few months. That is the job of the industry, after all. But in reality, there isn't much that links Meyer to Fields other than Meyer's somewhat distant affiliation to the Buckeyes' program. 

If people want to tie in Meyer's ties to Ohio State currently, that is more than fair. Meyer has clearly still stayed somewhat a part of Ohio State's program and is currently listed as an assistant athletic director, so he surely knows personally just how much Fields has grown since arriving to Ryan Day's program. He also likely knows just how prepared Fields is for the NFL. 

But knowledge of Fields doesn't and shouldn't equate to preference. Meyer has also spent the last few years as an analyst for Fox Sports, so while he may not be as close to Clemson's program as Ohio State's, he knows Lawrence has been the best quarterback in college football for the last three years. 

Meyer himself also ranked Lawrence ahead of Fields when asked to select the top quarterbacks in college football before this past season. Perhaps it would be a stretch to say this is hard proof that Meyer would prefer Lawrence, but there is also no real reason for Meyer to rank them like that if he didn't agree with the assessment. 

The reason for the ranking? Because Lawrence had more experience. This is still true today, with Lawrence having three years starting under his belt as opposed to Fields' two years.

Plus, it isn't like this is the only time Meyer has gushed over Lawrence. He has obviously given Fields his fair share of praise, but there is no real mistaking that Meyer is extremely high on Lawrence, or has at least appeared to be.

If you want to go back further, then that is fair as well. Did Meyer have much of a connection to Fields landing with the Buckeyes to begin with? The timeline suggests he didn't. 

32 teams offered a scholarship to Fields when he was a member of the class of 2018, according to his ESPN recruiting profile. Ohio State, then led by Meyer, was not one of those teams. 

But what about when Fields left Georgia after one season and eventually transferred to Ohio State? This would make sense if Meyer had not announced his retirement from coaching before Fields ever officially entered the transfer portal. Once Fields was courted to the Buckeyes, it was Ryan Day's show. Meyer himself even talked about his unwillingness to take on a quarterback from the transfer portal.

Finally, there is looking at this all from a big picture point of view. There is a chance that too many are getting hung up on what Meyer may prefer when the more likely scenario is that the chance to draft Lawrence is a big reason Meyer is set to join the NFL ranks to begin with. 

Meyer is a big fish who could likely have nearly any job he wanted, but he picked the Jaguars for a reason, and that reason almost assuredly has a lot to do with Lawrence. 

The Jaguars have never had the No. 1 overall pick before, which shouldn't get lost in all of this. Would Khan and Meyer not take advantage of drafting a slam dunk, consensus prospect who is already one of the biggest names in the sport, just so they can take a player who played at a program Meyer is tied to?

The answer should be a resounding no. Fields is a great player, but Lawrence is in a different realm in terms of both on- and off-field impact. Khan is a businessman and likely understands this better than anyone. And it isn't like he is sacrificing any football ability by going with the bigger name because that name is widely considered to be the best quarterback prospect of the last decade. 

Meyer will be Jacksonville's head coach soon. Not much longer after that, Lawrence will be his quarterback -- barring some kind of historically unforeseen circumstances. This is the path the Jaguars have clearly set. Maybe he surprises the entire football world, but the evidence doesn't suggest he will.

Fields will hear his name called early in the first round, but hiring Meyer doesn't make it any more likely that he will hear the chants of "Duuuuvall".