Recapping the Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 draft

From the second Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence stepped onto a college football field, it was easy to predict that he, one day, would go on to be the first player picked in an NFL Draft in any given year. However, a question remained. Which team was going to be lucky enough to pick him? That question was answered by the end of the 2020 season when the Jacksonville Jaguars ended with the worst record in the league at 1-15. 

After winning its week 1 game over the Indianapolis Colts 27-20, it seemed as if the Jags were going to miss out on picking Lawrence. However, a string of wins by the New York Jets propelled the Jaguars into the driver’s seat for Lawrence.

Round 1, Pick No. 1 Overall: Trevor Lawrence (QB/Clemson)

The 6’6, 220 lbs quarterback from Knoxville, Tennessee has been given the keys to the castle in Jacksonville. Just as with any quarterback taken first overall, it was no secret the Jaguars were going to go this direction. The team had an obvious hole to fill at quarterback as it hasn’t been able to keep a sustainable franchise quarterback. Even after the draft blunders of the past with quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert (2011, 10th overall pick) and Blake Bortles (2014, 3rd overall) the team had rotten luck in free agency.

In 2019, Jacksonville signed quarterback Nick Foles to a four-year deal reportedly worth $88 million. Foles would be traded to the Chicago Bears soon after. While one player won’t save this team, drafting a national champion in Lawrence could certainly take them in the right direction. Now, it was up to the front office to give Lawrence the weapons needed for him to succeed.

Round 1, Pick No. 25 Overall: Travis Etienne (RB/Clemson)

With the Jaguars trading cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams, Jacksonville owned LA’s first-round pick this year. With Lawrence officially in tow, it was up to new head coach Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville front office to build a team around him. That certainly seemed to be the thought process going in as the Jaguars selected Clemson running back Travis Etienne. 

The 5’10’’, 215-lbs running back ran a 4.4 40-yard dash in the NFL Combine. It is clear that Etienne was brought on in large part thanks to his familiarity with Lawrence as he was his primary option in the backfield at Clemson. His ability to be a pass-catcher can also free up Lawrence’s options in a pinch. The Jaguars recently drafted LSU running back Leonard Fournette fourth overall in 2017, but were quick to move on from him as the team released him in 2020 after not finding a trade partner. Etienne won’t be the only running back that Lawrence will have at his six. James Robinson, an undrafted RB out of Illinois State, ran for over 1,000 yards in his rookie season last year. Jacksonville also signed former second-round pick RB Carlos Hyde to a two-year, $6 Million deal.

Round 2, Pick No. 33 Overall: Tyson Campbell (CB/Georgia)

Opening up the second round of the draft Friday night, The Jaguars looked to fill needs on the other side of the ball. Jacksonville selected Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell as their first defensive pick of the draft. The 6’1 junior out of Plantation, Florida was a five-star recruit after high school and was coached by former NFL cornerback Patrick Surtain. Campbell was a track star in high school as well and that speed showed as he ran a 4.3 40-yard dash at his pro day. He will join cornerback C.J. Henderson who the Jaguars drafted ninth overall last year.

Round 2, Pick No. 45 Overall: Walker Little (OT/Stanford)

Returning to the offensive side of the ball, the Jags looked to continue to support their new quarterback with some protection. A major talking point going into this year’s draft was that teams with new quarterbacks need to protect their new investments by sharpening their offensive line. Jacksonville did just that by using their later second-round pick from trading defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Minnesota Vikings to get Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little. Little isn’t so little at all. The 6’7’’, 313-lbs senior from Houston, Texas can be a great addition in the long term but is going to be a project. He has only played one game since the start of the 2019 season thanks to a knee injury. Despite the setback, Little was an All-PAC-12 first-team honoree and has shown great potential.

Round 3, Pick No. 65 Overall: Andre Cisco (S/Syracuse)

Only having one pick in the third round, Jacksonville went back to defense with Syracuse safety Andre Cisco. The 6’1” junior out of Valley Stream, New York was the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year with 60 tackles and seven interceptions in 11 starts. The following year, Cisco earned second-team All-ACC honors and continued his trend from his freshman year with 65 tackles and five interceptions. In 2020, Cisco only played two games due to injury after getting 11 tackles and a pick. If not for that, Cisco could have certainly been drafted much earlier. Being a versatile piece that can be moved around, Jacksonville can certainly use him as the team ranked among the worst in overall defense last year.

Round 4, Pick No. 106 Overall: Jay Tufele (DT/USC)

To open up the fourth round in the draft, the Jaguars decided to service its defensive line after doing so for its offensive line earlier. Jacksonville selected USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele once again as an asset to improve its awful defense from the prior year. Redshirting his first year with the Trojans due to injury, in his first year on the field he won second-team All-PAC-12. He would continue to rise as he reached first-team All-PAC-12 status his sophomore year. His college career would stop there however as with many prospects in this year’s draft, Tufele opted out of the 2020 season.

Round 4, Pick No. 121 Overall: Jordan Smith (DE/UAB)

Moving up nine spots to take him, Jacksonville made sure to secure a pick for defensive end Jordan Smith. Originally set to play for the Florida Gators, Smith was suspended from the program due to being involved in a credit card scheme with other players. He moved on to play at University Alabama at Birmingham where in his 21 games there he was named to the All-Conference USA team twice including a first-team nod in 2020. Despite his past the Jaguars were willing not only to take a chance on him, but were willing to give up a seventh-round pick to the Rams and late-round positioning in order to get him to be an asset to Meyer and defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. 

Round 5, Pick No. 145 Overall: Luke Farrell (TE/Ohio State)

A player formerly coached by Urban Meyer, Ohio State tight end Luke Farrell has been brought in to fold mainly for his pass-catching ability. His blocking ability was also highlighted by the Jacksonville front office with his 6’6, 250 lbs build. He led tight ends at Ohio State with 20 receptions for 205 yards as a third year sophomore but had no more than four receptions in a single game. His connection with Meyer seems to have certainly been a major factor in the team picking him in the fifth round.

Round 6, Pick No. 209 Overall: Jalen Camp (WR/Georgia Tech)

With their final pick in the 2021 NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected wide receiver Jalen Camp out of Cumming, Georgia. Once again the Jags turned to the ACC as an outlet for draft talent as the conference made up four of the teams nine picks. Camp, a 6’2 receiver, led the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets with 27 receptions for 439 yards as well as four touchdowns in 2020. Prior to his success last season, Camp dealt with lingering injuries that kept him from reaching his full potential. He has seemed to come into his own as he ran a 4.43 40-yard dash and has a vertical of 39.5 inches during his pro day. Most notably, he was able to reach 30 bench presses at his pro day. Had that been at the NFL Combine it would have been a record among wide receivers. Being a lower-round pick, Camp will have to fight and claw his way to be on the roster come Week 1, which isn’t unheard of at his position.

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