Whew. Between the firing of Dave Caldwell and the drama surrounding the Lot J project, my head has been spinning the last couple of days. We don't yet know who will be making personnel decisions for the Jaguars in 2021, but here's a glimpse at what I would do (right now) if the Big Cats' 2021 draft class were mine to control.
This is my first 2021 SEVEN ROUND Jaguars' mock draft.
#2 Overall - QB Justin Fields Ohio State
The Jaguars MUST land their QB of the future (and present) in the upcoming draft. There are four prospects at the position with superstar potential, but Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields lead the pack. With Lawrence presumably going at the top spot, Fields is the choice here. I love Zach Wilson from BYU, but Fields is the safer pick and has just as much upside as Wilson. Fields has a fantastic arm and quick release. There's not a throw he can't make. He's got more than enough size and strength to take some hits and is dangerous when he decides to tuck it and run. He's got everything you look for in a quarterback prospect for the modern game and is just scratching the surface. He'll need to continue to develop as a field general, where he has shown improvement in 2020, but Fields is about as can't miss as any prospect in recent memory. The former number one overall dual-threat recruit coming out of high school is now the face of a new era of Jaguars football.
#25 Overall - OT Rashawn Slater Northwestern
Slater is the best offensive lineman in the class, not named Penei Sewell. He could slide just a bit due to his shorter arms, but that's not an issue for me. His tape shows that he can be a cornerstone piece at left tackle. Slater held up against Chase Young in 2019 and hasn't played in 2020 after opting out. While there are more impressive athletes with upside at the position, Slater is rock solid and would be a steal at this point in the draft. The Jaguars should consider bringing back their current left tackle Cam Robinson, who has developed into an adequate NFL starter, but as he enters free agency, Robinson might command much more money than he's worth. If Robinson and the Jaguars don't come to terms on a new deal, landing a left tackle early in the draft will be critical. If Slater isn't available, I'd be targeting Darrisaw, Eichenberg, or Radunz.
#34 Overall - TE Pat Friermuth Penn State
Another offensive player? Yep. We'll get to the defense, I promise. But offense is the name of the game in 2020, and Pat Friermuth will give the Jaguars a promising receiving threat with excellent athleticism and movement skills. Friermuth is also an adequate blocker, making him even more appealing. He can be featured in a wide variety of ways. His RAC ability, strong hands, and size make him a can't miss tight end prospect in today's NFL. Giving Fields a safety valve and explosive playmaker is an easy decision. If Friermuth is off the board, tight end Brevin Jordan and receivers Terrace Marshall and Chris Olave would be in play for me.
#45 Overall - DL Marvin Wilson FSU
Marvin Wilson was widely considered the top defensive tackle in draft class before the start of the 2020 season. A slow start for Wilson, and FSU as a whole, has seen his draft stock fall quite a bit. He only played in six games in 2020 before suffering a season-ending leg injury. But Wilson would be a value in the middle of the second round and is a nice iDL piece to pair with DaVon Hamilton. Wilson can hold up at the point of attack but can also push the pocket. He has excellent hand strength, which allows him to overpower interior offensive linemen, moves well for his size, and has a nose for the ball. The Jaguars need to be more stout against the run and better on third down; Wilson should be able to help in both areas.
#57 Overall (Trade Up) - EDGE Jaelan Phillips Miami
Jaelan Phillips has first-round talent, and it's been on display during his lone year in Coral Gables. At 6'5'' and 258 pounds, Phillips has the ideal frame for a modern defensive end. He's lived in the backfield this year, using his strong hands and athleticism to outmaneuver opposing tackles easily. A strong finisher. Through eight games in 2020, he's racked up 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, three passes defended, and an interception. So, why is he falling all the way to the bottom of the second round? Phillips has a long injury history, and there are questions about his off the field character that still need to be answered. There's also just a ton of talent at edge rusher in this class. Phillips isn't the most bendy pass rusher in the world, but he can get around the edge or work inside to be an effective pass rusher, and he's a vacuum against the run. The Jaguars have a star in Josh Allen, but after a disastrous rookie year for K'Lavon Chaisson, they need to bring in someone to compete on the edge. Phillips is a fantastic talent, and the best pass rushes in football boast more than two quality edge rushers anyway.
#103 Overall - S Richie Grant UCF
Grant is far from a perfect safety prospect, but so is every other safety in this class. The stars didn't align for the Jaguars to add a playmaking safety until this spot, but Grant IS a playmaker. At 6'0" and 194 pounds, he has enough speed and coverage ability to play single high. He's picked off ten passes in his career with 17 passes defended. Grant is also a well-versed blitzer and is comfortable playing in the box. He has 11.5 career tackles for loss. Grant could improve in his consistency in angular pursuit and as a finisher. But for a guy going at the top of the fourth round, Grant has starter traits and should develop into a guy that can get the ball back for Justin Fields and the Jaguars' offense.
#109 Overall - WR Tylan Wallace Oklahoma State
Regardless of whether or not Keelan Cole departs in free agency, adding a talented wide receiver at this point in the draft makes a lot of sense. You can never have enough playmakers for your young quarterback (see the Kansas City Chiefs). Tylan Wallace is uber-productive with 192 catches for 3,292 yards and 26 total touchdowns in his career. At 6'0" and 185 pounds, he's not the height-weight guy that teams covet, which is why he could fall to day three. He's an excellent route runner with his quickness out of breaks. His speed and catch point ability make him an excellent vertical attacker as well. He does well to beat press with his hands at the line of scrimmage. Wallace should be able to assimilate into any offense at the next level quickly. Being the Jaguars' third, fourth, or even fifth target, Wallace will develop into a mismatch early on in his career.
#142 Overall - iOL Drake Jackson Kentucky
Jackson is the anchor for one of the most impressive offensive line groups in the country at Kentucky. Due to his lack of length, he might be relegated to center, but he's tough as nails and is able to get into the chest of interior defenders with leverage. Andrew Norwell and AJ Cann might not be around too much longer, and the combination of Brandon Linder, Ben Bartch, and Jackson should be able to carry the Jaguars for several years on the interior. Add in the potential return of Tyler Shatley, and the Jaguars have a solid interior group.
#164 - CB Keith Taylor Washington
Keith Taylor is as versatile as they come. He can play inside and outside, and while he's far from a polished product at either spot, teams can always use versatile pieces in the secondary. With nine career passes defended, he's shown flashes of playmaking ability. He's a solid tackler in the slot and has experience blitzing as well. DJ Hayden is likely on his way out in Duval, so adding developmental depth at cornerback could be in play.
This class is all about surrounding Justin Fields with help. On offense, he gets a starting left tackle, an elite tight end prospect, and a valuable receiver. On defense, the Jaguars get better against the run and add players that have the potential to force turnovers and get the ball back to the offense.
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