Worst and First: Jacksonville Jaguars Favored to Earn No. 1 NFL Draft Pick

Posted on: August 31, 2020, 06:38h. 

Last updated on: September 1, 2020, 02:48h.

Little was expected from the Jacksonville Jaguars this season. Now, even less is expected of them after moving on from two of their better players.

Jacksonville QB Gardner Minshew
Gardner Minshew is the new starting quarterback for Jacksonville. But for how long? (Image: Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports)

On Sunday morning, Jacksonville traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to Minnesota. On Monday morning, it released running back Leonard Fournette.

Over the past four seasons, Ngakoue is one of only four defenders with 35-plus sacks and more than 10 forced fumbles. Fournette is coming off the best season of his career with 1,152 rushing yards and 76 receptions.

On a team already bereft of expectations, the Jaguars are now the heavy favorite to earn the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft.

Low Expectations

The Jaguars are the runaway leader at FanDuel Sportsbook for the worst record in the NFL. They’re +210, far ahead of Washington at +600 and Carolina and Cincinnati at +700.

The market doesn’t really attract a ton of interest,” John Sheeran, the director of trading for FanDuel, told Casino.org. “We reformed the market this morning off the back of the trades to +210 from +250. The trades themselves don’t warrant a huge change in their expected wins. But I think it gives us insight to the franchise’s strategy for the year.”

Since reaching the AFC Championship Game and almost knocking off the mighty Patriots to reach the Super Bowl in 2017, the Jaguars are 11-21, with a pair of last-place finishes in the AFC South.

Now, it appears, they’ve gone from bad to worse. At BetMGM, the Jaguars went from +550 to finish with the most losses in the NFL, to +400. That got them past the rebuilding Washington Football Team, which is +450.

Losing for Lawrence?

Having given up on Blake Bortles, the No. 3 pick of the 2014 draft, and Nick Foles, who signed a four-year, $88 million contract in free agency last off-season, the Jaguars badly need a quarterback. By getting rid of two top players, they have positioned themselves nicely in the sweepstakes to draft quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

The Clemson standout, who pleaded with university leaders to save the 2020 college football season, is the heavy favorite to be the No. 1 pick of the 2021 draft. At FanDuel, Lawrence is -300, while Ohio State’s Justin Fields is +500. Lawrence was among the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. But, because of the COVID-related cancellations of the Big Ten and Pac-12 seasons, that award might not be handed out this year. The ACC, where Clemson is a member, SEC, and Big 12 intend to play this season.

Even before the transactions, the Jaguars had the shortest odds at PointsBet to finish 0-16. On a two-team board, Jacksonville was +2,500 and Washington +5,000.

The Jaguars are, by far, the longshot to win an otherwise balanced AFC South. Indianapolis, which added quarterback Philip Rivers in free agency, is the favorite at +115. Tennessee, which reached the AFC title game last season, is +170. Houston is +355, and Jacksonville is far in the rear at +2,200.