Trevor Lawrence played a key role in the Jacksonville Jaguars' turnaround last year and heading into the 2023 season, he's by far the best quarterback in the AFC South. But how does he stack up against other signal-callers in the division? Just recently, Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report thinks Lawrence still has work to do before solidifying his spot as the best of the bunch in the AFC South.
Sobleski recently took a look at the most intriguing storylines that could potentially determine each division winner in 2023 and wondered who's the best quarterback in the AFC South. Right off the bat, he acknowledges that Lawrence made significant progress last year but opines that he's "still learning and getting comfortable with the professional game". On the other hand, Sobleski thinks C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson, both rookies, could make a huge impact next season.
"Conversely, both the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts will have rookies leading the way. The Texans' C.J. Stroud and Colts' Anthony Richardson sit at different points in their development, though both could create drastic impacts. Even so, each will experience his fair share of ups and downs. "
Sobleski goes on to say that the Titans are the wild card, noting that Ryan Tannehill remains in place despite the addition of Will Levis in Round 2 of this year's draft.
Following an underwhelming rookie campaign, Lawrence ranked ninth in the league in passing yards (4,113), 10th in passing touchdowns (25), and his interception rate of 1.6 percent was tied for sixth last year. Moreover, he led comeback wins against the Baltimore Ravens, the Las Vegas Raiders, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Los Angeles Chargers in Super Wild Card Weekend.
It's easy to envision Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence having another great year
Before the Jaguars drafted Trevor Lawrence in 2021, Tennessee had arguably the best quarterback situation in the AFC South after trading for Ryan Tannehill two years prior. However, Tannehill has never been an elite quarterback and instead excels as a game manager. That's not necessarily a bad thing when you take into account that the Titans made the playoffs three straight seasons before missing out last year.
Having said that, Tannehill has been the subject of trade speculation throughout the offseason and his tenure in Tennessee might be close to the end if Levis impresses early on. Then again, Levis is a rookie and expecting him to play like a vested pro in 2023 might be a tall ask. The same is true for Stroud and Richardson. Both have upside and could eventually become the face of their respective franchise but they'll both have their work cut out while they make the adjustment to the pros.
Meanwhile, Lawrence is entering Year 2 under Doug Pederson. The young passer showed a huge improvement in the second half of the 2022 season and having a better grasp of his system should help him put even better numbers than last year. Also, the addition of Calvin Ridley to an already stacked wide receiver corps should take his game to the next level.
While you should always expect the unexpected when it comes to the NFL, it's hard to envision any non-Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback overtaking the division in 2023. Richardson and/or Stroud could narrow the gap by the end of the regular season but Trevor Lawrence remains the cream of the crop in the AFC South.