The Jaguars may be favorites to pick No. 1 in the 2021 NFL Draft but not so fast.
In the time since April, early mocks for the 2021 NFL Draft have the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting at the No. 1 overall pick. At that position, many people have the franchise selecting Clemson wunderkind quarterback Trevor Lawrence. It’s safe to say that the Jaguars are the favorite to end up with the NFL’s worst record and select first overall in next year’s draft.
However, making draft predictions a year in advance, though a common practice, can be a bit misinformed. This time last year, everyone expected the Miami Dolphins to end up in that spot; they ended up winning five games and picking at No. 5.
There will undoubtedly be NFL teams who “Lose for Larry” but Jacksonville may not be one of them. Here are three reasons why it’s premature to assume the Jaguars will be the first team on the clock in the 2021 NFL Draft.
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3. The Jaguars won’t pick No. 1 in 2021 because of: Gardner Minshew
While many believe Jacksonville will select a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft, their cult hero quarterback, Gardner Minshew, had a stellar rookie campaign in 2019. Minshew went 6-6 as a starter, his 21 touchdowns ranked higher than that of Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray and his 91.2 quarterback rating led all rookies all while throwing just six interceptions.
Looking elsewhere on the offense, D.J. Chark is fresh off a breakout season at receiver. Combine that with Leonard Fournette in the backfield and an above-average offensive line, Jacksonville should be able to get enough help from their offense to keep them in games.
2. The Jaguars won’t pick No. 1 in 2021 because of: The AFC South
The AFC South may be the weakest division in the NFL. Yes, the Titans are coming off an appearance in the AFC Championship Game but Ryan Tannehill feels more like lightning in a bottle than franchise quarterback and they paid a running back with a ton of mileage on him, clearly not learning from the mistakes that both Atlanta and Los Angeles made.
Houston spent their offseason trading arguably the best receiver in football for a longshot running back and a surprisingly small amount of draft capital. Indianapolis is maybe the best team in the division but their success hinges on the success of Philip Rivers. Being in a division full of uncertainty will benefit the Jaguars.
1. The Jaguars won’t pick No. 1 in 2021 because of: The Carolina Panthers
While fans in Carolina are excited about the Matt Rhule era, it was made abundantly clear during the draft that they too are rebuilding. They took a defensive player with every pick, making it known that they were laying the foundation for what they hope will become a dominant unit in the seasons to come.
As for 2020, though, a solid amount of expected contributors lack a lot of experience. Offensively, Christian McCaffrey is incredible and D.J. Moore is a legit No. 1 receiver. Outside of that, though, they have no good tight ends, their offensive line is questionable and Teddy Bridgewater is more or less a poor man’s Alex Smith.
The NFC South is absolutely stacked. In a division that has three offenses that feature Hall of Fame quarterbacks and elite receivers, Carolina is late to the party. Are they a better team on paper than Jacksonville? An argument can be made for that but the divisions that both teams play in will be the determining factor in who has the worst record; my money is on the Panthers having the first pick.