Jaguars C Luke Fortner recalls the time Josh Allen humbled him
One of the biggest criticisms surrounding the Jacksonville Jaguars’ strategy in the 2022 NFL Draft was their decision not to invest any draft picks in a wide receiver. However, they did bolster other position groups and even found a potential long-term answer at center in Kentucky’s Luke Fortner.
After trading the 33rd overall selection and moving up to No. 27 to take linebacker Devin Lloyd, the Jaguars had to wait until the third round to make another pick. There, they selected Fortner, who won’t be handed the starting center job but will be given a chance to unseat incumbent Tyler Shatley. After the draft, the former Wildcat met with the media and said that playing center is going to be “a tall task and tough job” but he’s ready to handle it and excited.
In Jacksonville, Fortner will be reuniting with Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen, who was his teammate at Kentucky before he was drafted seventh overall in the 2019 draft. Fortner recalls a story
"So I’ve been in school a long time there…. they put me up against them in one on ones. I think I was a redshirt freshman at the time. It didn’t end so well for me. But you know, now I ended up here and he humbled me a little bit and I feel like we have a good relationship and he’s an incredible dude. I learned a lot from him and hopefully we’ll continue to."
Fortner goes on to say the Jaguars showed significant interest in him early in the process, meeting him at the NFL Scouting Combine and attending his Pro Day. The Ohio native made 23 starts at guard but switched to center in 2021. There, he started 13 games and earned First-Team All-SEC honors. While he’s only played the position one season, he performed well and should keep getting better with experience.
C Luke Fortner should start for the Jaguars at some point in 2022.
Fortner wasn’t the highest-rated center in this year’s draft but he was among the top and the Jaguars didn’t have to make any moves to land him. Tyler Shatley is set to start after signing a two-year deal earlier this offseason. The veteran center has made 18 starts over the last two seasons and performed well in relief of Brandon Linder, who retired not long after free agency began.
Even though Shatley has played well these past two years, he’s been a backup for most of his career and isn’t the long-term answer at the position. That’s why drafting Fortner was a solid move. Even if he doesn’t start on Day 1, he will at some point in the 2022 season.
The Jaguars are committed to making sure Trevor Lawrence is in a position to succeed in Year 2, and will the addition of Fortner won’t make many fireworks, he will ensure his quarterback is protected up front.