The Jaguars selected Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne — two prospects who have very few questions when it comes to their projection to the pro game — on day one of the 2021 NFL Draft. On day two of the draft, the Big Cats drafted Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell, Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little, and Syracuse safety Andre Cisco.
Campbell and Little, who the Jags added at 33 and 45 overall respectively, were both five-star recruits coming out of high school. Two immensely talented young football players that didn't quite live up to their lofty expectations.
Campbell played in 31 games at Georgia and started on the outside for much of his time in college. The 6'1" cornerback has long arms and blazing speed. But he didn't quite put it together at UGA, allowing a completion percentage of 65 in primary coverage during 2020. His problems arise once the ball is in the air. You see, he has no issue sticking with his assignment early on, but he struggled to find and attack the ball at that catch point.
Little's failure to reach his potential in college has less to do with his on-field play and more to do with his not being on the field. He hasn't played in a game since the first week of 2019, when he suffered a torn ACL. He made a full recovery, but when the PAC-12 canceled their football season, Little made other plans for his draft preparation and stuck with them, even after the PAC-12 finally decided to play games. There's no denying Little's natural talent, especially as a pass protector, but had he been able to develop on the field, we might be looking at a much more pro-ready prospect.
As for Andre Cisco, he's not a former five-star recruit. But he's got the best range and ball skills of any safety in this class. Jacksonville's current safety coach, Chris Ash, recruited Cisco, who is from Queens, coming out of high school. Ash didn't land Cisco then, but he connected with the young defensive back, and that bond helped the Jaguars decide to bring Cisco in. So what's the catch? For one, he's not fully recovered from an ACL tear of his own. And then there's the fact that he's wildly inconsistent when it comes to tackling and decision making.
With these three additions, the Jaguars are banking on their coaches' ability to get the most out of the talent that lies within. These three prospects won't likely be ready to play meaningful snaps when they first arrive in Duval. The Jaguars' coaching staff will need to mold them like balls of clay into precisely what they need.
The Jaguars will look for Tyson Campbell to become a man cover corner that can play on the inside and outside and make plays when the ball is in the air.
"He's a versatile defensive back, so when you look at our corners and Tyson, you've got these long, six-foot-plus guys that run a 4.4, and he's physical," Jaguars' head coach Urban Meyer told the media. "The flexibility that he will provide — he didn't play a lot of inside for Georgia, but he was a safety in high school, and like I said, I've known him a long time. I actually heard on television, and we agreed with the assessment on television that he's so confident in his speed he's never out of control. We love that guy on film."
Jacksonville took notice of Walker Little as a potential addition early on in the pre-draft process. They'll use him as a backup offensive tackle to start the 2021 season and work to develop him into a quality starter down the road.
"Great story there. He hasn't played in a long time. He was the number one tackle coming out of high school; I remember him. He was very good before he got hurt early in the season, not this past year but before. And then the Pac-12 canceled the season, and that's when he started training somewhere else. We were kind of hoping he'd go play in the Senior Bowl so we could go and watch him, but we did a lot of intel. I know Coach Shaw fairly well, and you watch his athleticism and bendability for a big man. The tackle position was very thin this year, and we needed a backup left tackle. He's again trying to develop to at one point to become a starter. We've kind of focused on him pretty early in the whole scenario."
Urban admitted that selecting two players who haven't played in such a long time was a tough pill to swallow:
"Very hard, and I needed help with that, to be quite honest," said Meyer. "We had to do as much intel as we could, but if you look at sheer talent, I think the two guys Walker and Cisco, yeah it was really hard. I'd much rather have those guys in, spend time with them, but the good thing is we have great connections with Cisco, and we had great connections with Stanford and Walker Little."
While Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne represent football players that are primed and ready to make an impact from the moment they step foot on the field, these three day-two picks will need to be carefully and meticulously groomed to become the best versions of themselves. If the Jaguars coaching staff can develop these young men, and the training staff/sports science and nutrition team can keep them healthy, we could be looking at some high-impact picks. If not, Jaguars' GM Trent Baalke might be doomed to repeat his own history as a drafter — in the past, he's taken his chances on many a prospect with bad knees, and more often than not, they've come back to bite him.
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