How good was Jacksonville’s 2021 NFL draft in hindsight?

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Despite the team’s 1-15 finish in 2020, the Jacksonville Jaguars entered this season with some optimism. With a rookie franchise quarterback and a new administration in place, there was hope that the team would at least show signs of progress in Year 1.

That didn’t ultimately end up being the case, and after a 3-14 finish that resulted in the dismissal of head coach Urban Meyer and fans wanting to see general manager Trent Baalke gone, it’s time to reconsider the way Jacksonville approached the offseason, and, especially, the 2021 NFL draft.

In a postseason draft re-grade from Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, the Jaguars earned just a “C” grade, which is understandable given the overall lack of an impact from rookie players this season aside from Trevor Lawrence in terms of the offense.

We’re not going to give the Jacksonville Jaguars too much credit for making the common-sense selection of Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 overall. We’re also not going to fault Lawrence for playing with a talent-starved roster and an all-time terrible coaching situation.

Lawrence (passer rating of 71.9) was not good as a rookie, but he still has the upside of a perennial All-Pro.

Outside of the obvious pick in Lawrence, who was considered a generational quarterback prospect, second-round cornerback Tyson Campbell is really the only rookie that made a significant impact. He became a starter after the C.J. Henderson trade in Week 4, and he improved quite a bit down the stretch.

But the Jags’ other first-round pick, running back Travis Etienne, missed the entire season after suffering a Lisfranc fracture in the preseason. Meanwhile, Andre Cisco, Walker Little, and Luke Farrell saw limited action while Jordan Smith hardly played at all. Sixth-round pick Jalen Camp didn’t even make the final roster and now plays for division rival Houston.

Travis Etienne missed his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury, but the Jags got a good one in Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell. He started 14 games and allowed an opposing passer rating of 94.0 in coverage.

Walker Little and Andre Cisco each made three starts in 2021, but Jay Tufele and Jalen Camp appeared in only seven combined games. Jordan Smith never saw the field, while Luke Farrell finished with a mere seven receptions.

The problem here is that with a league-worst roster, the Jags should have found opportunities for their rookies. They largely did not. Campbell and Lawrence may be future stars, and Etienne is a total unknown, but this class will have to bank on its development to be an acceptable one.

Just to clarify on Knox’s comments, Smith actually did appear in the final two games this season, registering 20 snaps against New England on defense but just one against Indianapolis. Camp did appear in three games, but they were all with the Texans.

Regardless, it still wasn’t the production fans would like to see from a rookie class in such a key transition year, and the Jags will need Lawrence and Campbell to build off the positives they had while hoping that players like Cisco, Little, and the enigmatic Etienne all develop into reliable pieces.