Jacksonville Jaguars reminded of past QB blunders in the NFL Draft

• Before Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars struggled to find their QB of the future.

Apr 28, 2011; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell introduces quarterback Blaine
Apr 28, 2011; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell introduces quarterback Blaine / Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars don't have to worry about the quarterback position with Trevor Lawrence in the fold. However, they haven't always enjoyed that kind of stability at the position. In fact, they searched for a long-term answer behind center for several years without much success. Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports just reminded the Jags how ineffective their efforts to find a franchise quarterback were in the past.

Benjamin re-graded every quarterback drafted in the first round the past 15 years and the Jaguars had three entries, Lawrence, Blake Bortles, and Blaine Gabbert. Of the three, only Lawrence got a good mark, and even then, he got the "solid results" label. Meanwhile, both Bortles and Gabbert were rightfully dubbed misses. Here's what Benjamin had to say about Trevor Lawrence:

"Lawrence passed the eye test with flying colors in 2022, his first under a legitimate NFL staff. But he regressed as a decision-maker with a tweaked setup in 2023. His electric arm should help him rebound."

Quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson were dubbed home runs while Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, like Lawrence, fell in the "solid result" category.

Gabbert was the 11th overall selection in 2011. Four quarterbacks went in the first round that year but only Cam Newton — the first overall pick — went on to have a fruitful NFL career. Christian Ponder and Jake Locker were out of the league by 2015. Locker decided to step away voluntarily, though.

The Jaguars realized after just three years that Gabbert wasn't the solution at quarterback and drafted Bortles third overall in 2014. While he padded up the statline, he wasn't the kind of signal-caller that could put the team on his shoulders and win football games. In 2017, the Jaguars made the AFC Championship with Bortles behind center but they got there in spite of him, not because of him.

Even though Bortles' shortcomings had been exposed, the Jags made the puzzling decision to give him a contract extension. They would soon come to regret it, releasing just one year after giving him the new deal.

Surprisingly, Gabbert remains in the league, carving a niche as a backup. The former Mizzou Tiger started a few games for the San Francisco 49ers but he once again showed he wasn't a starting-caliber signal-caller. He then spent time with the Tennessee Titans, and the Arizona Cardinals before joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. More recently, he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2023.

Gabbert has only attempted 40 passes the past four years but he's won two Super Bowl rings, one with the Bucs and one with Kansas City. And that's a feat worth praising.

Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence is better than solid but must improve in 2024

While Trevor Lawrence has been more than solid, he still has room for improvement. Back in 2022, he showed he could play at a top-10 level, helping the Jaguars make the playoffs and win the AFC South for the first time since 2017.

Expected to solidify his status as a top-5 passer in 2023, Lawrence instead took a step back but there are many reasons for his regression, and some of them were beyond his control. For instance, the team's brass didn't properly address the offensive line, and the team's overall dearth of depth was exposed by injuries. On top of that, offensive coordinator Press Taylor couldn't make the necessary adjustments and didn't make an effort to run the ball later in the season.

This led Lawrence to try to do more, often with less-than-ideal results. Looking for the big play, he frequently missed the checkdown. Similarly, he took many risks instead of throwing the ball out of bounds or taking a sack. His aggressiveness ultimately resulted in 12 fumbles and 14 interceptions.

Head coach Doug Pederson understands that picks will happen but he wants Lawrence to do a better job of cutting down on the fumbles. On the other hand, Pederson acknowledges that the Jags must do a better job of helping their star quarterback. That's why they revamped the interior offensive line in the offseason and will put an emphasis on establishing the run in 2024, something they failed to do next season.

The bottom line is that Trevor Lawrence gives the Jacksonville Jaguars stability behind center for years to come. That said, he needs to turn it up a notch if they want to reclaim the division in 2024.

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