Jacksonville Jaguars are the team to beat in the AFC South after the 2023 NFL Draft

Dec 22, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Dec 22, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If you tell a fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars that Trevor Lawrence is a top-5 quarterback, they'll nod in agreement. However, if you say the same to someone who doesn't actively follow the Jags, you'll get a blank stare in return. This may be a bit surprising but there are a few reasons for that.

For starters, Lawrence struggled in his rookie season but that had to do with Jacksonville making the dubious decision of hiring Urban Meyer as the head coach. Moreover, the former Clemson Tiger has only had one good season. Then again, he might be just getting started and there are reasons to believe the Jags are set to be the cream of the crop for years to come.

For starters, Doug Pederson isn't the kind of head coach that will let his players rest on their laurels. Instead, he'll push them to be better, and given the fact that the Jags lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year, it's reasonable to think that he'll try to get over the hump next season.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan also got it right when he chose to keep general manager Trent Baalke after the 2021 season, much to the chagrin of fans. Baalke inherited a roster with plenty of needs but he's done a good job of loading up on talent over the last two seasons.

It's fair to say that the Jags have the pieces in place to enjoy sustained success for years to come but how about other teams in the AFC South? Jacksonville got into a hot streak to finish the 2022 season and won the division for the first time since 2017. However, it won't be nearly as easy to repeat as champions in 2023 because their division foes made important upgrades in this year's NFL Draft, also known as the Player Selection Meeting.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will welcome 3 rookie QBs to the AFC South in 2023

As Judy Batista of NFL Media recently noted, the Houston Texans drafted C.J. Stroud second overall while the Indianapolis Colts took Anthony Richardson at No. 4. On the other hand, the Tennessee Titans waited until the second round to select a quarterback, Will Levis, who will probably begin the season behind Ryan Tannehill but will join the starting lineup sooner rather than later.

"Lawrence represents what everybody else in the AFC South needed badly in this draft: a franchise quarterback who could seize control of the NFL's most wide-open division, which has been won by every one of the four member teams at least once in the last nine seasons. By the time the 2022 season ended, though, the Jaguars -- who won the division title, beat the Los Angeles Chargers in a wild-card playoff game, and have an ascending Lawrence under center -- seemed poised to lord over the AFC South the way Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts once did for more than a decade."

Seen an early run on quarterbacks in the draft isn't shocking when you consider that football is a team sport but no other position has a bigger impact on the outcome of the game. The Jags might have made the playoffs or at least improved in 2022 if they hadn't had Trevor Lawrence. Having said that, there's no doubt he played a massive role in their playoff push and will be a big reason they'll remain competitive for years to come.

Now, the Jaguars are building around Lawrence because he gives them the best chance to win games on a consistent basis. For proof, look at the 2017 season. They reached the AFC Championship on the strength of their defense but once they started losing some of their key defensive pieces, the wins didn't come nearly as often.

Now, Lawrence and the Jaguars will welcome three rookie quarterbacks into the AFC South. Although they're still the favorites to win their division crown in 2023, the gap isn't as wide as it was last year.

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