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The obvious headline from Jacksonville’s haul in the 2021 NFL draft is Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Widely considered a generational talent at the position, he’s the centerpiece of the rebuild being undertaken in Jacksonville.
But the Jaguars made eight other picks in this draft, and those were very important, as well, when it comes to the future of the team. Though they addressed many areas of need, there were also some that didn’t receive much attention, and a couple of the picks were a bit puzzling.
Overall, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper gave the Jaguars a “B” grade for their efforts this weekend. Unsurprisingly, Kiper loved the decision to select Lawrence, who he has as the fourth-highest graded quarterback he’s ever evaluated.
It’s the Jags’ second pick in the first round, which was used to take Lawrence’s college teammate in running back Travis Etienne that Kiper becomes a bit skeptical. Though he likes Etienne as a player, he’s not a fan of drafting running backs in the first round (and given the value Jacksonville got from an undrafted rookie in James Robinson last season, it’s hard to argue with it).
He also didn’t love the selection of Tyson Campbell with the 33rd pick, who he thinks was inconsistent on tape despite having high-level traits. He said there were better cornerbacks on the board.
The Jaguars’ selections at No. 45 and No. 65 were both a bit high-risk/high-reward. Offensive tackle Walker Little hasn’t played in nearly two years, while safety Andre Cisco has some injury concerns despite unreal production. Still, Kiper liked the potential upside with these picks. He also liked the Jags’ first pick in the fourth round, defensive tackle Jay Tufele.
Kiper took some issue with the selection of tight end Luke Farrell from Ohio State in the fifth round. With only 17 career collegiate catches but strong blocking skills, Farrell likely projects as a TE2 in the NFL. He thinks the team should have invested its third-round pick in Boston College tight end Hunter Long, instead, and that selecting Farrell was a reach for a player with a fringe draftable grade.
Here’s how Kiper summarized the class.
All in all, this is a team with a long ways to go. There’s a reason they had the No. 1 pick and have a new front office and coaching staff. But no class with a quarterback like Lawrence can get graded too poorly.
Meyer and Co. certainly took some risks, and only time will tell if they pay off. One thing is for certain, though: The team finally has an elusive franchise quarterback in Lawrence.