Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft has Jags addressing major needs in first two rounds

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Tyler Nettuno
·6 min read
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The Jacksonville Jaguars are the only team in the NFL that doesn’t have to sweat its first selection in the draft. While other teams may have to weigh options and prepare backup plans, Jacksonville has the chance to do exactly what it wants with the first-overall pick.

“What it wants” will almost certainly be the addition of former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and though that pick is certainly receiving the most attention of all of the Jags selections, building a young core around him is just as important as pulling the trigger on him.

With this in mind, the latest two-round mock draft from ESPN analyst Mel Kiper shows the Jaguars hammering their needs with their first four selections, especially in the receiving corps. Here’s how Kiper thinks the Jags will go about the 2021 NFL Draft:

No. 1 - Trevor Lawrence (Quarterback, Clemson)

Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) runs the ball against LSU Tigers linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson (18) during the second quarter in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With a depleted roster and in the beginning stages of a rebuild, new Jaguars coach Urban Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke have a chance to start fresh, take one of my highest-graded quarterbacks ever and build around him. The Jaguars have three more picks in the top 45 -- at Nos. 25, 33 and 45 -- to plug other holes, and they need to hit on those. Lawrence is a no-brainer as the top signal-caller in this class.

No surprises here. Lawrence is almost universally considered the top quarterback in the class (though a vocal minority of analysts prefer BYU's Zach Wilson) and Jacksonville hasn't had a bonafide franchise quarterback since Mark Brunell. Obviously, there are no guarantees when it comes to quarterback, but Lawrence, who is consistently compared with prospects like John Elway, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, is easily the best bet. Now, what do the Jags add around him?

No. 25 - Trevon Moehrig (Safety, Texas Christian)

Nov 2, 2019; Stillwater, OK, USA; TCU Horned Frogs safety Trevon Moehrig (7) turns to run after an interception during the fourth quarter of the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium. Oklahoma State defeated TCU 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

I'll stick with Moehrig to the Jaguars here as a free safety complement to free-agent signing Rayshawn Jenkins. I thought about a pass-catcher, but the Jaguars could find an impact player in Round 2 (they pick at Nos. 33 and 45). Offensive line could be another position to target, but they shouldn't reach. Moehrig, who had 19 pass breakups over the last two seasons and won the Thorpe Award as the country's best defensive back in 2020, isn't likely to be on the board in Round 2. He's my top-ranked safety.

This defensive back class leaves a lot to be desired, but Moehrig is a very interesting safety prospect. Though Jacksonville signed Rayshawn Jenkins from Los Angeles this offseason, safety is still a position of need, and Moehrig would compete for a starting spot at free safety opposite Jenkins in Year 1. There's a good possibility he goes earlier than this, but if he's available, taking Moehrig would shore up a weakness while also adhering to a "best player available" strategy.

No. 33 - Kadarius Toney (Receiver, Florida)

Dec 19, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Florida Gators wide receiver Kadarius Toney (1) makes a catch against Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Malachi Moore (13) in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

I would have loved to find a fit for Toney in Round 1, but this could be a great spot for him. Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell could scheme up ways to get the ball to Toney and Laviska Shenault Jr. out of the slot. And Toney would help take the pressure off Trevor Lawrence with some easy touches.

After adding Marvin Jones to the receiver group this offseason, it's not nearly as big a position of need as it looked like it would be. D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault are two talented and young receivers, but adding another young player to that group to complement Lawrence would be a smart move. Some mock drafts show the Jags taking Toney at 25th (while others even have him off the board by then), but Kiper thinks he falls just out of the first round. This would be good news for Jacksonville, who could land a starter at safety and still end up with a new weapon on offense in Toney. Though a bit undersized, he's lightning-fast and is exceptional after the catch. He didn't break out until his final season in college, but he may be too intriguing to pass up at the top of the second round.

No. 45 - 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 is an all-around tight end who excels as a blocker and pass-catcher; his 57 catches last season were the most for any tight end in the country. That's all four picks down for the Jaguars, with projections for a quarterback, safety, slot receiver and tight end. This is the kind of offense that gives Trevor Lawrence a fighting chance in Year 1, because there will undoubtedly be some growing pains.

Of all of Kiper's projected picks, this one is easily the biggest head-scratcher. Not because he has them taking a tight end, as that is likely the most pressing position of need after quarterback, but rather for the player he has them picking. Most rankings have Pat Freiermuth as the No. 2 tight end on the board behind Kyle Pitts, and many mocks don't have him making it to 45th. Not only does Kiper have the Jags drafting Long over Freiermuth, but he has the latter falling out of the first two rounds entirely. Long had good production at Boston College but not quite up to par with Freiermuth. It's unclear whether this was an oversight on Kiper's part or if he's just low on Freiermuth. While taking a tight end would make sense here, taking Long with Freiermuth still on the board would be a surprise.

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