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Quick thoughts: End of offseason

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence looks for a receiver during an NFL football team practice, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence looks for a receiver during an NFL football team practice, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and NFL Media/Jaguars Media Analyst Bucky Brooks both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars following the 2021 offseason program, which ended last week at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex …

Oehser …

1.Minicamp couldn't have ended better. This first end-of-offseason quick thought focuses on rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who ended 2021 Minicamp presented by Baptist Health on the highest of notes. Lawrence, after struggling in the red zone in a phenomenally overanalyzed practice early in '21 Organized Team Activities, was limited by hamstring tightness in another open-to-the media OTA practice. Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, was similarly limited on Day 1 of minicamp – but had his strongest performance in any of the offseason's open sessions on minicamp's second and final day. Lawrence was strikingly accurate that day and made quick, correct decisions. He dropped a beautiful pass over the shoulder of the defender on a seam route to wide receiver Phillip Dorsett II and had a perfect pass into the end-zone corner moments later. Lawrence seemed more confident that day than earlier in the offseason. "The rotation of the ball, the timing, the way he's putting it there, away from everybody, it's just insane to see that so early in a quarterback," cornerback Shaquill Griffin said. "You're talking about coming in the league with so much high hopes and he's proving it. That's why I'm so excited for him." Not that anyone doubted Lawrence, but it sure was a good way to end the offseason.

2.We're learning more and more about the defense. Minicamp brought traction on one major offseason issue, with both Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer and defensive coordinator Joe Cullen offering insight into how the defense will look in 2021. Meyer said defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson will play the strong-side outside linebacker role, a position that also has pass-rushing responsibilities, with Lerentee McCray and Leon Jacobs also working that spot. Look for Davon Hamilton, Malcom Brown and Roy-Robertson Harris to be key down linemen along with big ends Taven Bryan and Adam Gotsis –with rookie Jay Tufele also key in the down rotation. Cullen also made clear during an interview for an upcoming O-Zone Podcast that the defense will be aggressive – in innovative, creative fashion: "We're going to blitz and we're going to blitz a lot of different people. We're going to rush with four. To me, you're going to see a fast, physical and attacking defense."

3.Training Camp is going to be competitive – and entertaining. Meyer made clear during OTAs and minicamp that the comparative non-competitive nature of the NFL offseason was a learning experience. Meyer was one of the most successful coaches in college football history – and offseason practice in college features pads and hitting with far more competition than is allowed in non-padded and voluntary NFL offseason. "The number one quality we're looking for is competitive spirit and that's hard right now," Meyer said, adding that competitive practices are "Something I'm looking forward to in the fall." Meyer said he feels confident that most players who make it to the NFL are by definition competitive but made clear that training camp will be decidedly more competitive. "I look forward to doing that," he said. "We're going to do a bunch of it in training camp." Meyer was able to create competition in minicamp at kicker, with Aldrick Rosas and Josh Lambo exchanging attempts in pressurized situations Monday and Tuesday. "That's exactly what that was," Meyer said. "We have two guys that are very talented kickers, very talented. And we're going to do that quite often before we have to make a decision."

Brooks …

1.The Jaguars are a bigger, faster and stronger team. It is not a coincidence that the Jaguars look like a collection of heavyweight boxers on the practice field. Meyer repeatedly has expressed his desire to build a bigger, faster and stronger team in Jacksonville – and his team looks fit and trim. From the bigs in the trenches to the speedsters on the perimeter, the Jaguars look the part. They have added young talent to the roster with prototypical size and athleticism, while beefing up or trimming down a collection of veteran holdovers that posted near-perfect attendance in the offseason. With the team placing an even greater emphasis on player/skill development, the Jaguars have a team with the size and skill to step into the ring with the NFL's heavyweights. Although it might take some time for the victories to appear on the ledger, the Jaguars will be more competitive in 2021 – with a bigger, faster and stronger team taking the field.

2.Lawrence is the real deal. Whenever you draft a quarterback No. 1 overall, you want to see daily flashes that confirm his status as a blue-chip prospect with the potential to emerge as an elite player. Lawrence not only checks the box as an exceptional talent with A-plus arm talent, athleticism and skills but he is a polished player with a refined game that could enable him to play at a high level as a rookie. While those are certainly lofty expectations, the Clemson product put on a spectacular performance at minicamp that makes it easy to envision him blossoming into a Top 5 quarterback. From his pinpoint ball placement on back-shoulder fades to his unique ability to fit balls into tight windows on rope-like throws, Lawrence is an MLB pitcher with every pitch in his bag. With the Jaguars' offense featuring explosive playmakers all over the perimeter, the team's new QB1 could put up big numbers and vie for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

3.Cullen's defense could surprise folks. The long-time defensive line coach unveiled a dynamic defensive scheme at minicamp that could create problems for opponents this season. The Jaguars are implementing an aggressive, high-pressure scheme that features a variety of defensive fronts, personnel packages and exotic blitzes – and simulated pressures that will drive quarterbacks and play-callers crazy on game day. Forcing offenses to sort out which defenders are rushing and dropping into coverage, the Jaguars' new scheme has enough smoke-and-mirrors elements to produce big plays off confusion and uncertainty. The creative pressure packages remind me of how Rex Ryan befuddled opponents with his eccentric schemes in the past. If the Jaguars' young defensive backs are able to hold up in coverage, the blitz-happy approach employed by Cullen will give the defense a chance to re-emerge as a top unit down the road.

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