NFL DRAFT DEEP DIVE: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
By Tres Valenzuela
The NFL Draft is over, and we cannot head into the three-month abyss that is the offseason without looking at what all 259 selections mean for each franchise. Whilst too early to judge just how successful a draft class each team’s was, we can look at how rookies fit within schemes, where they stand on depth charts, and who we can expect to make an impact in 2021. We continue our team by team series with the Jacksonville Jaguars:
|5||145||Luke Farrell||TE||Ohio State|
|6||209||Jalen Camp||WR||Georgia Tech|
After winning their first game in 2020 the Jaguars dropped 15 in a row and finished with a league worst 1-15 record. Looking to build a new identity for the team, owner Shahid Khan cleaned house and made one of the more intriguing coaching hires in recent memory, by bringing collegiate legend Urban Meyer out of retirement. With total control and the first pick of the draft, Meyer made Trevor Lawrence the new face of Jacksonville Jaguars.
Since the fall of 2018 when Trevor Lawrence overtook Kelly Bryant as the starting QB for the Clemson Tigers, the 2021 first overall pick was his to lose. With expectations that mirrored former Stanford great Andrew Luck, Lawrence was constantly under a microscope. Lawrence still somehow managed to exceed those expectations by making three straight College Football Playoffs, and even winning the National Championship during his freshman season. He led the Tigers to a phenomenal 34-2 in record, while throwing for over 10,000 yards and 90 touchdowns. He possesses all the traits NFL scouts love to see from an NFL quarterback; height, arm strength, leadership, etc. Lawrence’s tenure in Jacksonville will be the ultimate indicator of how successful this Jaguar draft class is viewed.
Knowing that Lawrence would be a Jaguar since the conclusion of the regular season made their next selection the draft room’s first real test. After trading Jalen Ramsey in 2019 the Jaguars obtained what turned out to be the 25th pick in the draft. With glaring needs throughout the roster it was tough to predict whom the Jags would take. Many thought they would draft o-line to better protect Lawrence, others thought they would select secondary after having one of the worst pass defenses in the league, but to many’s surprise they chose Lawrence’s college teammate and all American running back Travis Etienne.
With little to show for their 2020 season, one of the Jaguars’ few bright spots was undrafted free agent James Robinson. Robinson was a long shot to even make the roster, being a running back from the small school Illinois State. He ended up being not only one of the best rookies, but one of the best running backs in the league, recording the 5th most rushing yards along with 300 plus receiving yards in just 14 games.
At the time this made the selection of Etienne a head scratcher, but we have come to know that this was part of Meyer’s strategy all along. Etienne has taken most of his reps at receiver while with the Jags, a move that has been drawing comparisons to Percy Harvin at his time at Florida under coach Meyer. Etienne showed little to doubt his ability as pure runner while at Clemson, finishing with just under 5,000 yards and an impressive ypc of over 7. What is concerning are his hands; he even chose to return for his senior season in large part to show scouts he was a formidable pass-catcher. Although he did post his best season as a receiver in 2020, it will be interesting to see if he can make the leap as a true hybrid in his rookie season.
With the 33rd pick the Jaguars decided to bolster their secondary and took Georgia corner Tyson Campbell. Campbell was brought in to complement 2020 first round pick CJ Henderson, along with the Jaguars biggest free agent signing and former Seahawk Shaquill Griffin. With an up and down career at Georgia Campbell showed an ability to play the run and the pass, in large part due to his 6’1 frame. Campbell with have to stay healthy in order for his impact to be felt, something he had trouble doing while at Georgia.
The Jaguars flipped back to the offensive side of the ball with their next pick and chose to give Trevor Lawrence added protection by drafting Stanford LT Walker Little. Walker had a unique collegiate experience; bursting on the scene as a freshman he earned first team all conference honors. From that point Walker’s draft stock has slowly declined; he missed the majority of the 2019 season due to a knee injury and decided to forgo the 2020 season due to Covid. After franchise-tagging left tackle Cam Robinson it will be interesting to see how the Jaguars plan on using Little in his rookie season.
Jacksonville decided to take Syracuse safety Andre Cisco in the third round, a pick that presents a big risk, but a potentially bigger award. Cisco was undoubtedly one of the best safeties at the Division I level during his freshman and sophomore seasons, but missed the majority of his junior season due to a torn ACL. He was widely considered the best safety of his class prior the injury, posting an impressive 12 interceptions during his first 2 seasons. With true ball hawking skills to go along with an impressive 6’1, 215lb frame, Cisco’s biggest challenge will be regaining his form prior to injury. Should Cisco regain that form it would be hard to imagine him not becoming a starter and legitimate playmaker for a defense that is in dire need of one.
The Jaguars started day 3 of their draft by bulking up their interior D-Line with the selection of USC’s Jay Tufele. Tufele – like Walker Little – decided to forgo his 2020 season due to the pandemic. Despite a sub par pro day, Tufele relied on his impressive play from a 2019 season that earned his first team all conference honors, to convince the Jaguars he was worthy of a 4th round selection. With above average strength to go along with a high motor, Tufele should be able to earn his way on the field as a run stuffer on early downs.
Jacksonville found their first pass rusher of the draft when choosing UAB standout Jordan Smith. A former JUCO product, Smith wrecked havoc on conference USA for two seasons, accumulating over 23 TFLs plus 12.5 sacks. Despite his productivity, Smith may have fell to the fourth round after posting poor scores in both the 3 cone drill and 20 yard shuttle, leaving his ability to get off the ball quickly in question. The Jaguars are hoping that his larger 6’6 frame will help him compensate for his lack of explosion and ultimately allow him to have the same success he did while with The Blazers:
Urban Meyer waited until the 5th round to select one of his former Ohio State players, tight end Luke Farrell. Farrell played all four years at OSU, never turning into an elite pass catcher, but earning a reputation as an exceptional run blocker. During the 2020 season Farrell graded out at the 10th best run blocking tight end according to Pro Football Focus. With an expected heavy run game it is likely that Meyer will find a way to utilize Farrell’s ability to create some running lanes.
For their final pick the Jaguars took a receiver in the 6th round, Georgia Tech’s Jalen Camp. With such a run heavy offense Camp did not post stellar numbers, but his elite size and athleticism turned him into a NFL prospect. Camp blew scouts away with a ridiculous 39 inch vertical to go with 29 reps on the bench, a number that many linemen would be proud of. Camp will have to earn any reps he ends up taking, but with such upside he could turn out to be one of the steals of the draft.
One To Watch: Dylan Moses
Dylan Moses not being selected in the draft was one of the most surprising events over draft weekend. The name may sound familiar for a number of reasons; Moses first made waves from a viral video during his 8th grade season, where he truly looked like a man amongst boys, even earning a full ride offer from LSU. After committing to Alabama and finding success early on in his Alabama career Moses was considered a future first round pick, but an ACL tear in August of 2019 saw him falling down draft boards.
Deciding to come back for his senior season, Moses ended up winning a national championship, but at a cost. Moses himself admitted his knee was not fully healed. Unable to fully participate in his pro day was likely what scared teams away from drafting him. When healthy Moses was a force on an already dominant defense, showing elite play recognition with unparalleled sideline-to-sideline range. Jacksonville fortunately has Myles Jack and Joe Schobert; great mentors Moses should be able to lean on.
|Tim Jones||WR||Southern Miss|
The current roster of the Jaguars puts them in position to give UDFA’s real opportunities to see the field. Looking to add depth to the secondary, Jacksonville brought in Tyson Campbell’s teammate DJ Daniel along with Louisiana Monroe’s Corey Straughter. Daniel was not an every down player at Georgia and will need to find a way to be an asset on special teams to make the roster. Straughter had a very productive 2019 season, finishing with 5 interceptions. Only playing 2 games in addition to a 4.6 40 yard time did not present scouts enough to convince them of a draft pick. With good instincts, Straughter will likely look to make a name for himself at the nickel position.
Jacksonville also brought in two more wide outs, Josh Imatorbhebhe and Tim Jones. Imatorbhebhe started the past two seasons at Illinois and certainly showed flashes of an elite receiver, even posting a 178-yard performance against Michigan State in 2019. Imatorbhebhe also gained some attention at his pro day after posting a 46-inch vertical; that to go along with solid route running skills should give him a real opportunity to sneak onto the roster. Tim Jones had a productive career at Southern Miss, recording over 150 catches and 2,000 yards. After posting a 40-inch vertical at his pro day, it was clear that the Jaguars are looking to bring in receivers who get off the ground. Jones was a very reliable pass-catcher with the Golden Eagles and will likely look at adding value to the Jaguars as a slot receiver.
Kenny Randall was the only UDFA lineman that the Jaguars brought in. Coming from small school Charleston, Randall certainly did not lack production finishing with 16.5 TFL and 7 sacks during the 2019 season. Randall is also an elite athlete, being able to back flip while being over 300+ lbs. After not playing in 2020 due to Covid, Randall is definitely a passion project for the Jaguars, but with good play could find himself sticking around on the practice squad.
The last UDFA and likely first call Jacksonville made was Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses. Moses when healthy is certainly a player that not only can make the roster, but compete for playing time. What remains to be seen is how slowly Jacksonville plans to bring him along, with such high upside it is unlikely that they choose to rush him onto the field before he’s 100% healthy.
As mentioned before, this Jaguars draft will be deemed a failure or success depending on how well Trevor Lawrence performs. Being at a clear beginning of a rebuild Jacksonville fans should recognize the importance of this draft. With glaring holes throughout the roster, the Jags brought in players to virtually every position group, giving themselves an opportunity for good competition across the roster. With COVID presenting so many challenges to the scouting process it will be interesting to see how well these selections turn out.
A former collegiate wide receiver and current Texan, Tres is the newest
member of The Touchdown. In addition to writing for The Touchdown, Tres also works
as an NCAA analyst for Pro Football Focus.