JACKSONVILLE – Urban Meyer firmly grasps the moment.
Meyer was named the sixth head coach in Jaguars history Thursday, and he left little doubt about the importance of what he and the franchise will do on April 29, 2021.
What they will do on that night is use the No. 1 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Who they select matters. A lot.
"Who we pick at that quarterback spot – that's going to be one of the most important decisions I've made in my lifetime, along with the partnership of our owner and general manager," Meyer said.
The Jaguars finished 1-15 last season, securing the No. 1 selection for the first time in franchise history. Conventional wisdom is they will select a quarterback, and neither Meyer nor Owner Shad Khan has said anything to indicate otherwise.
The top three quarterbacks in the class are generally considered to be Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson. While Lawrence is considered by some the best quarterback prospect in a decade, and while Meyer has praised Lawrence in the past, he offered no hint on Friday about which of the three he prefers.
"You see Trevor, you see Justin, you see Zach," Meyer said, adding: "The ones that are out there, my initial study, because I have been studying a lot, I like to use the term elite, I see some elite quarterbacks out there right now."
Khan on Friday called this offseason an inflection point for the franchise, and Meyer agreed.
"As Shad said, this is a monumental moment for this franchise and we've seen some franchises explode and we've seen others fail," he said. "When the NFL says, 'It's a quarterback league,' I would say, 'Well, so is college and so is high school and so is Pop Warner.' It's a quarterback sport. So, whoever takes that snap we have got to be right on."
Among the topics Meyer discussed most often Friday was his decision process to not only return to coaching, but to do so in the NFL. While he was a college head coach for 17 seasons at four different stops (Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State) – and while he won two national titles at Florida and one at Ohio State – he never has coached in the NFL. Meyer said he first began considering coaching in the NFL about a decade ago. "I started getting some phone calls and it made you wonder and it made you think," he said. "I've had some very good friends in the National Football League, and I would sit down and have very confidential conversations with coaches, even some general managers, about just what it's like." Meyer emphasized Friday that his most important conversations have been with former players who played in the NFL. "That didn't start until this past year, probably around December," he said. "It was about a six-month journey that I went on and had very in-depth, detailed conversation with some of the players. I've always considered it, always thought about it, but not until the last 12, probably 13, months now. I just want to be educated. I spent a lot of time this year on the salary cap, understanding roster management and I just want to be very well educated, and it's something that's obviously going to be critical to our success."
Khan on Meyer: "One man clearly separated himself from the field. He's a winner, a leader and a champion. He's the man we want and need in Jacksonville. He wants the challenge. He's ready."
Khan: "We've not won, but it's not because of lack of effort. Were we are today, it's positioning us to win in the future. That's what everyone wants. We've got a great game-day experience. I think we've got a great fan base. We need to deliver winning."
Meyer on Khan: "He is invested in our organization and I'm telling you now the reason I'm standing behind the mic, he wants to win. He wants to win not for himself, he wants to win for Jacksonville."
Meyer, who coached the University of Florida from 2005-2010, on Jacksonville: "I've spent a lot of time in Jacksonville recruiting. My kids were athletes growing up, and I remember driving to Jacksonville 10 times a year for whatever events. We have great friends here and I kind of feel it through them. I have 479 messages I'm trying to get back to. But it's been fantastic, and I can't wait to do the very best for this incredible place. … Duval is a very special place to me."