Though free agency can be crucial for plugging holes and going from good to great, it’s no way to successfully build a team from the ground up. The only way to do that is through the draft, and with a new general manager and head coach in place, the first draft is arguably the most important.
What Jacksonville does at the end of this month will set the tone for the next several seasons, and the team could have some tough decisions to make. It still has a ton of areas of need on both sides of the ball, but with the depth added in free agency, the Jags don’t exactly have to follow a set plan.
CBS Sports has released a full seven-round mock draft, and it predicts that the Jags will go heavy on offense in this draft to help build around a new quarterback. As things currently stand, the Jaguars have 10 picks in this draft. Here’s how CBS thinks each of them will be used.
No. 1 - Trevor Lawrence (Quarterback, Clemson)
Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) walks off the field after a loss against the LSU Tigers in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The Jaguars don't hesitate to pick Lawrence here. Insert a franchise QB to that offense.
No need to overthink it. The Jaguars have the first overall pick for the first time in franchise history, they need a quarterback and there's one player that stands tall above the rest. Lawrence is one of the best quarterback prospects in years (perhaps even decades); bring him to Jacksonville and win football games.
No. 25 - Rondale Moore (Receiver, Purdue)
Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore (4) stiff arms Nebraska linebacker Will Honas (3) after evading Nebraska linebacker JoJo Domann (13) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette.
Cfb Purdue Vs Nebraska
Moore is too talented to slip any further. Big-time playmaker for Lawrence. And Urban Meyer sees visions of Percy Harvin at Florida.
Moore is a very similar player in terms of style to Florida's Kadarius Toney, who is also a commonly predicted pick here. But Toney's already off the board in this mock, and as far as consolation prizes go, Moore's a pretty stellar one. Paired with D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault, Trevor Lawrence will come into the league with a versatile receiving corps.
No. 33 - Alex Leatherwood (Offensive Tackle, Alabama)
Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood (70) against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Jaguars franchised Cam Robinson and pick another Alabama alum to be an on-field bodyguard for Lawrence.
With Robinson back for at least one more season, tackle became a much less pressing area of need. Still, it's unknown if Robinson stays on the roster beyond 2021, and replacing him with another Crimson Tide prospect at the top of the second round would shore up the future of Trevor Lawrence's blindside.
No. 45 - Levi Onwuzurike (Defensive Tackle, Washington)
Oct 5, 2019; Stanford, CA, USA; Washington Huskies defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike (95) tackles Stanford Cardinal running back Dorian Maddox (28) during the third quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Onwuzurike can push the pocket from multiple alignments and will give the Jaguars a serious pass-rush presence inside.
Some mocks show the Jags using the 25th pick on Onwuzurike. Instead, this projection rewards them for patience with a talented interior defensive lineman. Though the team added Malcom Brown and Roy Robertson-Harris this offseason, Onwuzurike has the talent, size and variability to push for starting reps right away.
No. 65 - Greg Newsome II (Defensive Back, Northwestern)
Purdue wide receiver David Bell (3) dives for a catch but misses the catch against Northwestern defensive back Greg Newsome II (2) during the third quarter of a NCAA football game, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette.
Year In Pictures 2020
This is probably the latest Newsome would go, and Urban Meyer makes this pick because of Newsome's length and fluidity as an outside corner.
If Newsome were available here, picking him would be the steal of the draft. He's almost universally considered to be a late first or early second-round prospect, and some even have him as the top cornerback on the board. But if, somehow, Newsome fell to the Jaguars at the top of the third round, selecting him is an absolute no-brainer. Add a potential starting cornerback in the middle of Day 2 and pop the champagne.
No. 106 - Hunter Long (Tight End, Boston College)
Oct 10, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles tight end Hunter Long (80) catches a pass during the first half against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Long isn't a special athlete but was a big part of the Boston College passing offense for years, and he gets after it as a blocker.
Long isn't considered particularly close to the top two tight ends in the class in Kyle Pitts and Pat Freiermuth, but he was decently productive over the last two years at Boston College while also bringing solid blocking skills to the table. If Jacksonville wants to secure a top tight end, it should probably use one of its earlier picks on Freiermuth. But if it decides to wait, Long would be a solid option that should at least provide an upgrade to the unit.
No. 130 - Drake Jackson (Center, Kentucky)
Jan 28, 2021; American offensive lineman David Moore of Grambling State (60) drills against American offensive lineman Drake Jackson of Kentucky (76) during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
Jackson can eventually be a run-blocking specialist at the center spot.
With Brandon Linder under contract, center isn't a major need for the Jaguars. But selecting Jackson in the fourth would give the team more depth along the interior of the offensive line, and if the team decided to move on from Linder, Jackson could be ready to take over after a couple years. With Linder also being capable of playing guard, Jackson could also fill in as a rookie if the Jags interior goes through a brief stint of injuries.
No. 146 - Frank Darby (Receiver, Arizona State)
ASU's Frank Darby during the game against FSU in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl Tuesday, Dec. 31, at the Sun Bowl in El Paso.
Sun Bowl 2019 024
Another weapon for Lawrence. Darby is a field-stretcher with good YAC skills.
Darby has decent size at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, and he was a major contributor for the Sun Devils' passing offense over his career. He's coming off a down year in the shortened season, but as a fifth-round receiver, he would give even more depth to a group that could quickly develop into one of the team's strengths.
No. 171 - Tarron Jackson (Defensive Line, Coastal Carolina)
Troy's Jabir Daughtry-Frye is taken down by Coastal Carolina's Tarron Jackson.
Troy Vs Coastal Carolina
Jackson is a ferocious competitor who'll win more battles than expected given his high-energy play.
Jacksonville's defensive line was one of the weakest parts of the team in 2020. In Jackson, it adds another new body to the defensive line. Either that, or he could potentially be a 3-4 outside linebacker, which may be a more suitable role for his size at 6-2, 260 pounds.
No. 229 - Paddy Fisher (Linebacker, Northwestern)
Jan 1, 2021; Orlando, FL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats linebacker Paddy Fisher (42) and defensive back JR Pace (5) work to catch Auburn Tigers wide receiver Ze'Vian Capers (80) during the second quarter at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Fisher isn't exactly fast but finds the football frequently.
A First Team All-Big Ten selection in 2020, Fisher has ideal size and was very productive throughout his college career with the Wildcats. He may struggle in coverage due to his aforementioned speed, but he would aid the Jaguars in run defense when he's on the field.
No. 250 - Larry Roundtree III (Running Back, Missouri)
Sep 15, 2018; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Missouri Tigers running back Larry Roundtree III (34) runs in the first half against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Rountree is a lightning-bug back who'd provide a nice change of pace to Robinson.
One of the most underrated backs in the Southeastern Conference throughout his college career, Roundtree is a bit undersized for the NFL, but his skillset is intriguing. As a speedy guy you want to get out in space, he'd be a nice change of pace from starting running back James Robinson. The team could address backup running back earlier in the draft, but if it waits until the final round, Roundtree would be a good pickup.