The worst-kept secret of the 2021 NFL draft was that Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was going No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Lawrence is the best QB prospect in years, and the Jaguars are in desperate need of a franchise passer.
On draft night, the last thing for Jacksonville to do was seal the deal and call the player to make it official. But, when the Jaguars front office staff called, the call went to voicemail. Not once or twice, but three times.
That’s when the Jaguars started to get nervous.
Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars seem like a great fit
There are NFL draft stories where players, especially quarterbacks, don’t want to go to an unfamiliar or unglamorous city.
Stanford’s John Elway told the Indianapolis Colts he’d rather play baseball for the New York Yankees than play for them. Ryan Leaf notoriously tanked his interview with the same team to steer his way to California. And, even though he grew up in Pennsylvania, the University of Miami’s Jim Kelly thought Buffalo was just too darn cold.
Lawrence doesn’t seem to have an issue with the city or the recently struggling franchise. The quarterback is a product of the Southeast U.S. According to the Johnson City Press, Lawrence was born in Knoxville, TN, went to high school in Cartersville, GA, and attended Clemson in South Carolina, so it’s not a surprise he’s ok going to Jacksonville.
The Jaguars, with owner Shad Khan at the helm for almost a decade now, have struggled on the field. They haven’t had a franchise quarterback since Mark Brunell retired as Khan was buying the team and their record in this time is 39-105.
Off the field, the Jaguars have recently made some promising moves. They are establishing themselves as the U.K.’s NFL team of choice, playing games in London for the last seven years. The organization also hired uber-successful college coach Urban Meyer to lead the team in 2021 and beyond.
This positive direction is likely another reason Lawrence seems so content heading to northern Florida.
The Jaguars had to wait seven minutes to draft Lawrence, per NFL rules
The Jaguars produced a behind-the-scenes docuseries available on their website and YouTube called, The Hunt. In Chapter 3: “Inflection Point,” the show captures the Jacksonville front office in their draft War room before making the No. 1 selection.
The team basically knew Lawrence was their guy as soon as they clinched the top pick. However, league rules prohibit the team from officially making the pick until the TV broadcast is ready. This is where the confusion between Lawrence and the Jaguars started. Jacksonville GM Trent Baalke explained the chaos:
When the league called, they said you have to wait seven minutes to turn in the card, so we didn’t pick up the phone to call him. You know, we just sat there, and he’s sitting on his end wondering why we haven’t called him.
After six minutes of waiting, a front office member dialed Lawrence’s number to start the process, but no one picked up.
A clip from ‘The Hunt’ shows the team’s calls going to voicemail on draft night
In the show, the audience hears the call go to a full voice mailbox. Khan then explains the team tried three times to reach the QB to no avail. Finally, Meyer takes matters into his own hands and dials Lawrence himself from his cell phone.
The documentary doesn’t get into why the calls to Lawrence went unanswered. Maybe he didn’t recognize the number, or perhaps the team didn’t have the correct digits. Either way, when Lawrence saw Coach Meyer’s name come up on his cell, the quarterback quickly picked up.
The video continues to capture the joyous moment for both the player and the team. The coach, owner, and GM tell Lawrence how happy they are to have him, and the quarterback responds with his excitement about being there.
The official Trevor Lawrence/Jacksonville Jaguar relationship may have got off to an inauspicious start, but if the experts are right and the fit is as good as it seems, the ending for this franchise and quarterback may be much, much better.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference