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The Jacksonville Jaguars have a new coaching staff and several new faces on the roster. Can they be one of the surprise teams in the NFL next season?

Jacksonville lost 27-11 to the Las Vegas Raiders in the 2022 NFL Hall of Fame Game on Thursday. Of course, the majority of the team’s starters didn’t take the field in what was its first preseason game of the year.

As it concerns the regular season, Nick Wright argued on “First Things First” that a second-year Trevor Lawrence, new head coach Doug Pederson, and a favorable schedule could substantially ascend the Jaguars.

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“They massively upgraded at the two most important positions in the sport,” Wright said of the Jaguars. “They massively upgraded at quarterback. How? Well, because year-two star quarterbacks is when the ascension happens, and they massively upgraded at coach, going from Urban Meyer, who’s one of the greatest college coaches ever and had one of the most inglorious professional tenures ever. Doug Pederson is not a perfect coach, but he knows how to get the most out of his quarterbacks, put them in the best position to succeed, and he did outfox one Bill Belichick in a Super Bowl not that long ago.”

“The Jacksonville Jaguars finish the season above .500,” Wright later said.

The Jaguars went 3-14 last season, good for last in the AFC South and the worst record in the NFL for a second consecutive year. Meyer was fired in December with the franchise hiring Pederson as its full-time head coach after the regular season. 

In this year’s NFL Draft, Jacksonville selected Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker with the No. 1 overall pick, traded up for Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd at No. 27, and selected Kentucky offensive lineman Luke Fortner (65) and Wyoming linebacker Chad Muma (70) in the third round.

Prior to the draft, Jacksonville was one of the richest spenders in NFL free agency, adding wide receiver Christian Kirk, guard Brandon Scherff and tight end Evan Engram, among others.

Kevin Clark of The Ringer joined Colin Cowherd on “The Herd” to discuss why he thinks the Jaguars are poised to climb up the AFC ranks in 2022.

“I think the Jaguars are going to be pretty good,” Clark said. “I think they’re going to be in the mix for the AFC South. First of all, they have a professional roster now. Addition by subtraction with Urban Meyer, who’s one of the worst coaches I’ve ever seen. Basically, if he was trying to sabotage the franchise, he wouldn’t have done anything differently. Trevor Lawrence in Year 2, the guys who watch the tape say he was nails, so I think that’s the team that’s going to win games and be in the mix in that division. It’s not like there’s a lot of super-duper stars in that division. 

“I think the Jaguars are the team in December we look up and say, Oh my god, Doug Pederson did a heck of a job.”