NFL-Jaguars select quarterback Lawrence with top pick in quarterback-stacked NFL Draft

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Amy Tennery
·2 min read
NFL: NFL Draft
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By Amy Tennery

(Reuters) -The Jacksonville Jaguars selected quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first pick of the NFL Draft on Thursday in Cleveland, Ohio, as fans were welcomed back to the event a year after COVID-19 forced it to go a virtual format.

The 21-year-old Lawrence, who finished as runner-up in voting for the Heisman Trophy awarded to college football's most outstanding player, was the consensus top pick for the struggling Jaguars, which went 1-and-15 last season.

"I'm going to put the work in, I'm going to do what it takes," Lawrence, who led Clemson to three straight ACC championship titles, told reporters.

"I'm not expecting for anyone to hand me anything - I want to come in there any earn the respect and the right to lead the team," he added.

The 6-foot, 6-inch (1.98-meters) Lawrence was one of five quarterbacks taken in the first 15 picks, as the New York Jets picked up BYU quarterback Zach Wilson second, as expected, and the San Francisco 49ers snagged North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance third, a move that surprised NFL insiders and armchair experts alike.

The other two top quarterback prospects - Justin Fields and Mac Jones - were selected 11th, by the Philadelphia Eagles, and 15th by the New England Patriots, respectively.

Jones was one of a whopping six prospects out of University of Alabama selected in the first round, a figure that equals the record set in 2004 by the University of Miami.

Thursday's first round capped an unusual scouting season for clubs across the league, with the combine called off and fewer than half the usual crop of prospects available for in-person medical evaluations, on the heels of a chaotic collegiate season that saw reduced playing time for some NFL hopefuls.

It also afforded a sliver of normalcy for the league, as hordes of fans packed together in Cleveland to catch a glimpse of the next generation of NFL talent, a scene that stood in stark contrast to last year, when the draft was taken to a "virtual" format due to the COVID-19 and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hosted from his basement.

Met with his annual chorus of boos as he walked onto the stage, a vaccinated Goodell egged on the crowd, telling the surly fans: "I didn’t come out of my basement for nothing."

The NFL Draft continues on Friday.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; editing by Christian Schmollinger and Kim Coghill)