JACKSONVILLE – Jaguars experts break down how the Jaguars fared in the recent 2021 NFL Draft …
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
Overall impression: Head Coach Urban Meyer’s first draft had a couple of surprises, but the Jaguars added plenty of team speed and also got better along the offensive and defensive lines. Running back Travis Etienne Jr. is a difference-maker; he can score every time he touches the ball.
Trevor Lawrence will: Take command of the offense immediately. The Jags have gotten better at running back, wide receiver and offensive line. Lawrence should be able to lead a balanced offense that struggled a year ago; 25 or more touchdowns is reasonable for him as a rookie.
What else I liked: Offensive tackle Walker Little. Granted, he only played one game in two years, but this could be the pick the Jaguars haven’t had since Tony Boselli. He will push Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor in one of the best battles in training camp. What if he’s good enough this year, where he pushes a tackle to guard or the bench?
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
Overall impression: It’s hard not to like a draft when you get a player the caliber of Lawrence, who will fill the role of franchise quarterback the team has coveted since Mark Brunell. The Jaguars also added speed, which they lacked, with Etienne and cornerback Tyson Campbell. Adding Little, who before his injury and sitting out last year because of COVID-19 had a first-round grade, is a great value pick.
Trevor Lawrence will be: A franchise quarterback that will help this organization be relevant and push for championships in the years to come. I believe he has all the physical and mental traits that will make him a great one barring any unforeseen injuries.
What else I liked: Even beyond Lawrence, it feels like the Jaguars got better as a team. That’s always the goal in the draft. They added speed at several positions and added depth on the offensive and defensive lines.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
Overall impression: I really like the Jaguars’ draft. What stood out was they added speed. Lots of it. This wasn’t a fast team, but feels like it got a lot faster. Etienne, Campbell and wide receiver Jalen Camp are really fast. I get the sense Andre Cisco is, too, particularly for a safety. Even this guy named Trevor is fast. Which brings us to …
Trevor Lawrence will be: One of the best rookie quarterbacks in league history. The hardware obviously is there – big, great arm, accurate, athletic – but it’s the software that is so impressive, too. Calm, smart, grounded. I’m really impressed with him and what I think he will mean to this franchise.
What else I liked: They got terrific value with Little and defensive tackle Jay Tufele. Little is a former five-star recruit and a first team All-Pac 12 guy not long ago expected to go in the first round. He will push the starting tackles. Tufele is a tough, physical scrapper inside who I think could start right out of the gate.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
Overall impression: The Jaguars did what they had to do in the draft by 8:25 p.m. Thursday night; they took Lawrence. I love the Etienne pick, although it came as a surprise. Meyer has been fantastic in his career with that kind of player, and how they use the playmaker will be fun to watch. The Campbell pick raises questions, but the Jaguars solidified their secondary in the draft and beefed up the defensive line in free agency. It’s trust Urban time, and there are some high ceilings with the players the Jaguars drafted.
Trevor Lawrence will: Change this franchise. We’ve all talked about Lawrence for months and he is everything the organization needed. The Jaguars got lucky, and they should reap the benefits of that fortune for the next decade. It’s hard to explain, but my travels to Lawrence’s hometown and to Clemson have indicated he will change the franchise and city more than people even believe. What that looks like will be fun to watch play out.
What else I liked: That Meyer knew many of these players from his college recruiting days. I think that’s an advantage that Meyer had to use and I’m glad he did. Drafting is difficult so any advantage is good. Also, I’m on board with many others in thinking Cisco could be a lot of fun to watch.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
Overall impression: This was a well-considered and well-researched approach to the first draft for Meyer and General Manager Trent Baalke. Lawrence is the obvious key; if he is as good as expected, then this is a great draft no matter how the rest of the class fares. The Jaguars focused on adding speed and skill players and quality linemen with the rest of the class while focusing on players who fit the culture Meyer hopes to build in this organization. That meant selecting players with whom Meyer and Baalke were very comfortable and on whom they had exceptional information. This essentially made it as safe a draft as possible in Year One of the regime.
Trevor Lawrence will be: Elite. And a franchise-changing quarterback. The Jaguars likely will emphasize the run in 2021 in an effort to not force him to carry the offense too soon. But eventually …
What else I liked: Cisco and Little. These selections raised eyebrows, with Cisco sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament this past season and Little sustaining one in 2019. But Cisco has the feel of a Day 1 starter who may have been the best safety in this draft if not for the injury. Little likely won’t start Day 1, but he likely would have been at least a Top 20 selection if not for the injury – and if not for opting out of the 2020 season. These are potential front-line players who could be long-term starters.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
Overall impression: I really liked the Jaguars approach to this draft. They’re in a unique position with almost no expectations of them this season. Countering that is a superstar coach who is overhauling nearly every aspect of the organization and the kind of franchise quarterback that comes along once in a generation – if that often. Their draft class reflects the long view, which is entirely different than the Tennessee Titans or Indianapolis Colts, who are focused on 2021. I liked that they took players who didn’t play last season or were injured last season and bet on their potential – and bet on what Meyer said would be the best coaching staff he could assemble. The long view is how the great franchises in any sport stay on top.
Trevor Lawrence will be: The face of the franchise – and of football. He’s not only a top-shelf quarterback, he’s as authentic and genuine as a person can be despite the spotlight being on him since middle school. My gut that tells me that while he appears too good to be true, he isn’t. He’s real and that’s spectacular for football.
What else I liked: The catch-lightning-in-a-bottle approach late in the draft. Edge defender Jordan Smith has the measurables to be special; listening to him, it seems his missteps in Gainesville helped focus him on football. Camp looks and sounds like the kind of player worth betting on; great size, intellect and a phenomenal attitude are traits that make you comfortable with a guy’s ability to grow. Their physical traits are outstanding, but their personal traits caught my attention over the weekend.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
Overall impression: The quarterback headlines the draft class, but it could be an incredible class if some of the other picks pan out. Etienne should be a threat from anywhere on the field, and Campbell will add to the cornerback depth. If you get production from Cisco on the back end of the defense, and if at some point Little gets in the lineup and performs, then look out.
Trevor Lawrence will: Win the NFL offensive rookie of the year award. If Kyler Murray of Arizona won it with average numbers two years ago, then Lawrence posting good numbers combined with the highest profile of a rookie we’ve seen in just over two decades should stack the odds in his favor early.
What else I liked: The Walker Little pickup. Left tackle Cam Robinson is on a one-year franchise tender; if he does not play well enough for an extension, maybe they have found a tackle of the future. This should be a good year to shake some rust off as a backup, then be ready if needed full time. It’s a bit of the roll of the dice, but if it hits, then the Jags could have an answer at an incredible value.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
Overall Impression: The Jaguars addressed needs while staying with what they have preached the entire offseason – value over everything. All nine draft picks will add immediate value, even if the depth chart doesn’t show they will start right away. Adding Etienne at No. 25 shows the Jaguars want to play fast and explosive. They now have multiple weapons that can accomplish that.
Trevor Lawrence will: Transform this franchise … he already has. His teammates are excited to play with him and it is obvious the entire roster has bought into him leading this team into national relevance. Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr.’s smile said it all on draft night; no one is more excited than the wide receivers to be able to count on consistent quarterback play. Lawrence will elevate everyone around him just by being present.
What else I liked: The Jaguars did not let any prospects slip through the cracks. Opt-outs, season-ending injuries and some trouble off the field … the Jaguars valued what prospects can do on the field rather than what is going on off the field. Smith told me every other team wanted to harp on the mistake he made at Florida; the Jaguars were the only team that asked about him as a player and as a man. Director of player engagement and youth football Marcus Pollard and director of player assessment Ryan Stamper in a player assessment role have already made a promising impact; the Jaguars are willing to do the extra work other teams won’t.