What’s one thing the Jacksonville Jaguars have going for themselves in the AFC South that all other teams in the division don’t? A franchise QB that doesn’t need to worry about his job stability for years. There’s also the proven winner coach, 10th-ranked offense in the league, cooler uniforms, but no, let’s focus for a second here.
After a horrendous rookie season, last year Trevor Lawrence was finally able to showcase those talents that had many NFL experts deeming him as a generational talent. If you look back at his 2022 season, especially the second half, the quality leap in his game cannot be ignored. We’re talking about a passer who in his last nine games, managed to have a 15/2 TD/INT ratio, all while leading his team into the playoffs.
So, what’s next for the Jaguars in 2023? How can they make sure the team doesn’t lose the smoke they brought upon themselves last season? Is the answer to strengthening their defense in this year’s NFL draft?
Let’s talk some Jags football.
Trevor Lawrence got the best back shots in the NFL 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/7QQ10imLKN
— 𝘣𝘳𝘺𝘢𝘯 ✱ (@tlaw2ridley) March 22, 2023
Protecting Lawrence At All Costs
Give me a QB with a bigger upside entering 2023 than Lawrence. When looking at the QB options for all 32 teams, no other passer seems set to take off and explode than Lawrence. While still playing under his rookie contract, this gives the Jaguars the advantage of being able to continue building the team around their QB to go from wannabes to contenders.
Guided by Doug Pederson, Lawrence found his niche late last season, leading the Jags to a thrilling win over the Chargers after being behind by 27 points. Now, as we enter a new season, one of Jacksonville’s main concerns should revolve around protecting Lawrence and making sure he can continue growing into his role as the team’s offensive leader.
Bolstering the team’s offensive line, adding a couple more weapons, especially to the running core, and locking down starting TE Evan Engram with a long-term contract, while adding a new prospect for the position through the draft, could end up making a world of difference.
Buffing Up the Defense in the Draft
Should the Jaguars be looking at the NFL free agency market to look for answers to their defensive issues? Nah. All of the top names looking for new deals are gone, so why bother? Now, I’m not saying that they should throw the idea away for good. But Jacksonville’s turnaround moment on defense could come from a strong draft strategy.
With needs in their interior defensive line and cornerback positions, finding a new disrupting piece on defense to play alongside Travon Walker, last year’s No.1 draft pick, and Foley Fatukasi is essential. It’s dumbfounding, but for all the wrong reasons that a team who finished with the 10th-best offense in the league also had the 24th-ranked defense.
Now, if the choice was up to me, finding a lockdown cornerback to pair next to Tyson Campbell would be my main focus entering the draft. The Jags need to make room in their cap to try and make the best out of their current salary situation. After giving CB Shaquille Griffin his walking papers, Jacksonville should focus its efforts on drafting a strong prospect to play alongside Campbell and secure its secondary for the future.
Getting the Best Version of Calvin Ridley
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley is back. And now, he wants to take the league by storm. After having to serve a suspension since March of 2022 because of a violation of the league’s gambling policy, Ridley saw his suspension lifted, thus allowing him to come back to the Jaguars for this upcoming season.
So what does that mean for Jacksonville?
That if done right, Lawrence and the Jaguars could be getting a much-needed piece in their passing game that could take their game to the next level. Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, alongside Engram, did a decent job last season, but having Ridley could be a game-changing move for a team looking to compete for the AFC title.
Ridley’s speed, paired with Jones’ route-running could give the team a pair of deep threats that no secondary will want to deal with. Trust me when I say that if this team syncs up from the get-go, we could be looking at a possible Super Bowl contender in 2023.
In a letter Ridley penned after having his suspension lifted he said: “I know I have a debt to pay back to the game. But when y’all talk about the name Calvin Ridley in 10, 20, 30 years… I’m gonna make sure it rings out for the right reasons”. Now, it’s on him to prove that, by giving the Jags the best version of his game and lifting this offense even more.