Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 NFL Draft Recapby Brady Podloski May 5, 2021 0 comments
The Jacksonville Jaguars got the best player in the draft in Trevor Lawrence, thus the analysis on him is short and sweet: he is very good. The full draft class analysis and grade is based on the objectives, and not just the selection of Lawrence.
The Jaguars’ draft had two noticeable objectives. First, build the offense and supporting the franchise quarterback. Second, drafting players who have more ‘boom-bust’ characteristics or players with higher potential/low floor. In addressing the first objective, Lawrence is given offensive support from his college teammate Travis Etienne, Walker Little, Jalen Camp, Luke Farrell, and Josh Imatorbhebhe. The support Lawrence gets is not only immediate with the Etienne pick, but will contribute to his long-term growth with the other four players having developmental traits. The offense not only looks supportive for a rookie quarterback, but has depth.
The defense received some playmakers in Tyson Campbell, Andre Cisco, Jay Tufele, Jordan Smith, and Dylan Moses. A majority of these players, along with Little, Camp, and Imatorbhebhe, are given the ‘boom-bust’ label which have somewhat of a bad reputation amongst Jaguars fans. For good reason, as the fans are wary of this label. The ghosts of Taven Bryan, Luke Joeckel, and Dante Fowler Jr. still haunt the fan base. However, with the new regime, fans should give this coaching staff and front office the benefit of the doubt. Above all, while it has not been determined if the new team can develop talent, fans should have hope. Based on Urban Meyer’s track record and the coaching staff he brought in, some of these players should see successful development.
Make sure to check out all of our 2021 NFL Draft Team Recaps.
Best Pick: Walker Little (Round 2, Pick 45)
How is a tackle who has not played in two years the best pick? This selection addresses two things: Tackle is an important position – using a second-round pick on any tackle position is valuable and it was good process. The best part about the pick itself is the process, as Little will get to develop behind Cam Robinson for this year and then can be a starter assuming Robinson leaves in free agency next year. This may be most strategic move the Jaguars front office has made in the last decade. Not only do you allow Little time to grow, but the team can earn a third-round compensatory pick if Robinson gets signed next offseason by another team. Grading from a long-term perspective, this is a savvy selection.
Secondly, Little is a good developmental selection as he was an ascending talent before a knee injury in 2019. Scouts did not see progression in 2020 because he opted out. Above all, Little has the tools and has shown the potential to be great. In 2018, he was holding his own against good competition, while showing good pass blocking technique. Little has the tools and size to be a long-term solution at left tackle for the Jaguars.
For more on Little, check out our scouting report on him here.
Worst Pick: Travis Etienne (Round 1, Pick 25)
While this is the worst pick, it certainly can become a great pick. The value of Etienne was bad relative to the talent of the rest of the board. Additionally, Etienne is a running back, a position that is losing value due to the amount of great running backs there are in the league. So from a contract perspective, having a running back on a larger contract can take away from signing another player. While Etienne’s contract is not that large, it is something to note.
The pick becomes intriguing (and an excellent pick) if you consider Etienne in a Curtis Samuel-like role, which Meyer incorporated in his college offenses. The position would threaten defenses not only vertically, but horizontally. Etienne could be the guy who gets five to eight carries from the running back position and five targets in the backfield as a normal running back. Then it gets interesting as he could get several carries in sweeps and jet motions, while also getting receiving work as a slot receiver. It is a projection, but having Etienne on the field will make team’s wary of his home run ability and versatility. It should be noted that Etienne only had 15 reps from the slot and 12 out wide, but he is a potential fit for this profile.
For more on Etienne, check out our scouting report on him here.
Sleeper Pick(s): Jalen Camp (Round 5, Pick 209), Josh Imatorbhebhe (UDFA)
There are two wide receivers here, as your author did a scouting report and had a late Day 2 grade on each player. Of significance, both players have the chance to not only make the roster, but push for reps on the field in what is an already deep receiving core. In addition, both players showed improvement during their college careers, and also have traits that can be developed.
Camp exemplifies the phrase ‘elite athlete’ because he should not move like he does at his size and weight. He runs effortlessly and explosively, making him a well-rounded receiver at all levels of the field. The best part is his athletic profile was not even his best feature, it was his hands and tracking ability. Camp played at Georgia Tech and did not have many accurately thrown passes. On a majority of them he had to adjust and correct poorly thrown passes. He was arguably the most reliable pass catcher in this draft; if he got his hands on the ball he would secure the catch.
On the other hand, Imatorbhebhe would have broken the combine record for vertical leap (46.5) had there been a combine. He isn’t as fast as Camp, but profiles to be an explosive and contested catch receiver who has some wiggle to his routes despite being large. Make no mistake, he has the speed to threaten a defense vertically but also shows significant back-shoulder catching ability and body control. Overall Imatorbhebhe has standout traits that will keep him relevant on the Jaguars.
While a B+ grade might seem off with the praise I’ve given, the reality is there is some uncertainty with most picks. Until we see the Jaguars develop a player it should be known as a draft with significant potential and thus the B+. Until then, it is a draft in which the team took players who give immediate impact, and also offer long-term value. If developed correctly, this could be a class that is considered Meyer’s cornerstone on the Jaguars’ path to success.
Overall Grade: B+