Jaguar Factoid: All potential drafts were given private phone numbers for the weekend draft so teams could contact them directly without worrying about cell phone issues. When it was time to call Trevor Lawrence, three calls to his home number went straight to voicemail. Eventually, trainer Urban Meyer took his cell and called Lawrence’s cell as the time passed on the draft clock. “Hey coach, I got nervous here,” said Lawrence. “I’m glad you called.”
JACKSONVILLE, Friday, 11 a.m. – This is what the weekend design is all about: hope. You could feel it in the wood-paneled stadium office of the owner Shad Khan. In 30 minutes, Khan would meet his new franchise quarterback for the first time, forgetting the fact that the 70-year-old Khan is worth about $ 8 billion. Trevor Lawrence is coming! We won’t suck anymore! The man was excited.
“It’s like an elusive dream,” said Khan. “Two and a half years ago we thought we’d walked around the corner. We were the favorites. . . Then, after last season’s misery, I think, “Oh my god, this is almost too good to believe.” How the gods of football smiled at us. We not only have the first selection in the draft, but also the first selection of trainers. “
The Florida Times-Union that morning showed what northeast Florida felt like 15 hours before – four teenagers, all dizzy, at the team’s draft party on the field last night, cheering when Roger Goodell made the Lawrence pick on the Videoboard announced. That’s what 1-15 is buying in the NFL these days, a dizzying drafting party with Lawrence about to pull up in a limo and meet his new team. When Lawrence arrived in front of the stadium in the big Jaguar, it was Khan who opened the door and said, “Welcome to Jacksonville. I am Shad “
An exuberant class of third graders with greeting signs enveloped the 6-foot-6 Lawrence with his flowing blond mane and his wife, Marissa. “Is your hair real?” said a boy. (It’s real and spectacular.) Another said, “Are you going to pay for our food?”
“Super cool,” said Lawrence, who knows what to say and what image to project. Neither seems to be atypical. “The kids were great.”
Jacksonville seems to be a good match for Lawrence, with seasoned professional coaches Darrell Bevell (offensive coordinator) and Brian Schottenheimer (passing coordinator) being the most practical coaches. They are vets who have worked with quarterbacks of different styles – most recently Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford – and knowing for some time that Lawrence would be their choice, they were able to give him lots of information and games.
The design was good for Lawrence too. The Jags’ second pick was explosive defender Travis Etienne, who has played 40 games alongside Lawrence in Clemson backfield in the past three years and has scored 85 passes in the past two years. “It was a great choice for me because we got to know each other as well as players and friends,” said Lawrence.
“With Travis,” said Meyer, “I expect immediate effect. He’s a slash … He has excellent hands and will be doubly trained [as a back and receiver]. ”
Jacksonville left the draft with a need that still ran out, and one of Meyer’s old Ohio state recruits, Luke Farrell, was chosen to join Tyler Eifert. Meyer sounded after the draft as if he had wished that they had received more of an offensive threat there. But they look poised to become receivers, and free agent Marvin Jones adds DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault Jr.
I spent a few minutes with Lawrence. He said the right things, just like he was in Zoom meetings with coaches and even Khan.
“The player is obviously great, but the person behind the player really gives me hope,” said Khan. “I can’t believe how normal he is. He has been the number one quarterback at all levels since he was 14 and is served at all levels. I am almost surprised by his humility. I was impressed that he really wanted to come here and spend his career in Jacksonville. He told me that – he doesn’t want to move. I said to him, “If you do what you’ve done so far, there will be two constants – you will be in Jacksonville and I will be in Jacksonville.” “
Khan owns Fulham in the English Premier League so he knows something about the world sports landscape. He believes Lawrence has the ability to be the first cross-continental American star. “As great as Michael Jordan was, he was never a true superstar there,” said Khan. “Trevor has the gravitas. I think he could become a true international superstar. “
Well whoa. When I introduced this to Lawrence, he was a bit surprised. “I’ve been thinking about how cool it will be to play in London, but. . . I try not to think about it too much. My job now is mainly to win games and prepare myself to be the best I can be and make the team the best I can. I’m trying not to think about all the other by-products. “
But the thought seemed super great when you thought about it. “Obviously that would be cool,” he said.
Soccer first. “I have to come in, go to work and earn the trust and respect of my teammates. There are obviously so many things that I want to improve and improve on. But really, I guess there isn’t a specific way to play quarterback in order to be successful. It’s just about doing what I know I’m good at bringing this here and improving all the things that I need to improve. But as far as my style of play goes, I’ll just be myself and play like I’ve always done. “
That was good enough to be the best view since Andrew Luck. But there will be tough days for the quarterback who lost two games in three years and the coach who has never lost three games in 17 years of college football. Hiring Meyer and drawing Lawrence were the two best moves the franchise could take by far. But games are not won in the off-season. The hunts have been between 12 and 36 since the opening day in 2019.
“We’ll enjoy the honeymoon,” said Khan, “until the ball tears.”
Read more from Peter King’s “Football Morning in America” column here.