Jacksonville Jaguars retroactively get outstanding grade for drafting Trevor Lawrence

Jan 21, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16).
Jan 21, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16). / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Lawrence was the closest to a can't-miss prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft, which is why there was a 99.9 percent chance the Jacksonville Jaguars were going to take him with the first overall pick as soon as they clinched it. Although the former Clemson Tiger got off to a rough start in his rookie season, he made a huge leap in Year 2. This in turn led Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports to retroactively give the Jags an outstanding grade for his selection.

Benjamin re-graded all the first-round quarterbacks drafted over the last 15 years and called Lawrence a "home run hit". On top of that, Benjamin (rightfully) believes the Tennessee native has outdone other signal-callers from the 2021 class.

"Is it too early to rule Lawrence a home run? Maybe, but he passed the eye test with flying colors in 2022, his first under a legitimate NFL staff. And a few things speak to long-term QB promise more than an unteachable electric arm, which he's got. "

Benjamin goes on to say that Zach Wilson might eventually put it all together "thanks to his slippery athleticism" but he notes that he's off to a rocky start in the pros. He describes Lance as an unknown commodity at this point of his NFL career, having appeared in just eight games and attempted 102 passes over the last two years. Benjamin then calls Justin Fields a work in progress and later points out that Jones regressed in his sophomore campaign after being a "mid-range passer" in his rookie year.

Other quarterbacks that got the home run label were Joe Burrow (2020) Justin Herbert (2020), Josh Allen (2018), Patrick Mahomes (2017), Andrew Luck (2012), Cam Newton (2010) and Matthew Stafford (2009).

Lawrence completed less than 60 percent of his passes for 3,641 yards with 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2021. However, he improved under the tutelage of head coach Doug Pederson last year and had a completion rate of 66.3 percent for 4,113 yards with 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.

Moreover, Lawrence played a huge role in regular-season wins against the Dallas Cowboys, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Tennessee Titans. Similarly, he helped the Jaguars overcome a 27-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card Round of the 2022 NFL Playoffs.

Trevor Lawrence gives the Jacksonville Jaguars stability at QB for years to come

Lawrence said before the 2021 Draft that his love for playing football didn't define him. This rubbed some people the wrong way, as they believe their life should revolve around the sport. Nevertheless, he's shown over the last two years that he's fully committed to helping the Jaguars become relevant.

While it's true that Lawrence had a rough time as a rookie, his struggles were mainly due to Urban Meyer's lack of direction and his subpar supporting cast. Once the organization hired Doug Pederson and surrounded him with weapons, the young passer was in a position to really showcase the talent that made him get the "most talented quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck" moniker.

The fact that Lawrence might not have hit his ceiling and is expected to be better in 2023 should have Jaguars fans hyped up. The young passer will now have the chance to master Pederson's system after learning it last year. Furthermore, the team's brass has added Calvin Ridley last year. With Ridley rounding out their wide receiver corps and Lawrence making yet another leap, there's a realistic chance Jacksonville will field a top 5 offense next season.

The future is right for the Jaguars. Instead of resting on their laurels after winning a playoff game last year, they're doing everything to pick up where they left off. Having Lawrence leading the way should increase their chances of returning to the postseason and getting over the hump in 2023.

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