JACKSONVILLE – The feeling was obvious and overwhelming.
It was the energy of a new era – and a new beginning – and it was Judy Battista's major takeaway from a first-hand look at one of the biggest stories in Jaguars history.
"My first impression is how much optimism and energy there was," Battista, a columnist and reporter for NFL.com and NFL Media, said recently when discussing her visit to Jacksonville before and during the 2021 NFL Draft.
"You really feel like something new is happening."
Batistta, longtime NFL writer for the New York Times before joining the NFL Network, joined senior writer John Oehser for this week's O-Zone Podcast. She discussed in detail covering the '21 draft in Jacksonville this past weekend, including her conversations with Owner Shad Khan and Head Coach Urban Meyer – and the arrival of quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
"You just felt this whole sea change around the franchise," she said.
Battista described Khan as "giddy" about an offseason in which he hired Meyer and oversaw the selection of Lawrence, a player many consider the best quarterback to enter the NFL in nearly a decade.
"He was so excited," she said of Khan. "You just really felt a lot of new energy. I think he's excited about not just Trevor Lawrence the person and not just Urban Meyer the person. He called this a transformational moment for the franchise. I think he just feels good about the direction they're going in and refreshed about the state of the franchise.
"He's obviously very excited about Trevor. The way he put it to me was he felt like he didn't just have the first overall draft pick, but he also had the first overall pick of head coaches."
Battista on her impressions of Lawrence, "I was really impressed. Urban has said they don't want to put too much on his plate. Obviously, when you're the franchise quarterback of a team that has been searching for a franchise quarterback for years, the instinct of everybody is to want a piece of him. My impression is I think this kid can handle it. I don't think it's going to be too big for him.
"I would be surprised if he gets overwhelmed by what it means to be the franchise quarterback."
For more of Battista's conversation about the Jaguars on the O-Zone podcast, click here.