The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is only 15 days away. As we inch closer to draft night, more and more information — in some cases misinformation — is being shared throughout league circles. The Jaguars enter what is undoubtedly one of the most important drafts in franchise history, due in no small part to the fact that they hold the number one overall pick for the first time ever. First-time NFL head coach Urban Meyer knows what's at stake.
"This is a monumental moment for this franchise, Meyer shared with the media at his introductory press conference. "We've seen some franchises explode, and we've seen others fail."
Today, I'm running a seven-round fully predictive Jaguars mock draft. That means that I believe there's a strong chance the Jaguars will have a legitimate interest in each player selected AND that each of the prospects slotted has a real chance of falling to where the selection is made.
#1 Overall - QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Trevor Lawrence — EVER HEARD OF HIM?
#25 Overall - TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
My angle here is not to criticize or defend the selection of Freiermuth — who projects as an upper-tier starting tight end in the NFL — but to tell you why I think Urban Meyer and GM Trent Baalke will take the former four-star recruit. The Jaguars are desperate to improve their tight end room. Post Free Agency, Meyer told the media the team has not "finalized" the F tight end position (primary receiving tight end). Recent reports like the one from Matt Miller of ESPN suggest that the Jaguars are "determined" to upgrade their tight end room.
Freiermuth played for Jaguars' tight end coach Tyler Bowen at Penn State. You could say Bowen's a fan: "He (Freiermuth) wrote his own chapter in the book of a storied tight end room with great tradition and history," Bowen told the media after Freiermuth's season-ending shoulder injury in 2020. "What he has meant to the Penn State community and the Aces (Penn State's tight ends) will never be forgotten. The way he loves the game and perfects his craft mentally, physically, and emotionally, allowed him to play the position at the highest level and take the standard of the tight end position at Penn State to new heights."
And when Freiermuth was being recruited, guess who offered him a scholarship. Ding, Ding, Ding: Ohio State. That's right, Urban Meyer offered the tight end, and he was denied. Meyer then got to watch Freiermuth catch 92 passes for 1,185 yards and 16 touchdowns in 29 games for his division rival.
Freiermuth isn't Kyle Pitts or Darren Waller, but he's commonly and reasonably compared to Hunter Henry, who is similar physically, athletically, and from a skill standpoint.
All this to say, I'd be the least surprised man on earth if the Jaguars select Pat Freiermuth at 25.
#33 Overall - WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
After adding Freiermuth in round one, I would probably be looking to improve the trenches with either an offensive tackle, interior defensive lineman, or edge rusher. But the Jaguars have other plans. The team has signed over a dozen defenders this offseason in an attempt to fill holes and create depth on that side of the ball. Why? So they can add even more ammunition to Trevor Lawrence's new arsenal in the draft.
"But he's (Phillip Dorsett) blessed with incredible physical qualities; he catches the ball well, on top of the fact, he's got great speed," Meyer told the media. "So, we addressed that need, and we're still not done. I don't mind addressing that."
Urban wants more. And he gets it with the 5'7" big play waiting to happen. In 2018, Rondale Moore caught 12 passes for 170 yards and two scores in an upset win over Meyer's Buckeyes. Moore is one of the most explosive athletes at that position in recent memory. There will be questions about his role at the next level and whether or not he can stay healthy. But that won't stop Meyer from adding the type of speed and big-play ability he so covets.
#35 Overall - EDGE Joseph Ossai, Texas
(Trade #45, #130 for #135)
Finally, some defense. Jacksonville will be aggressive in pursuing prospects they like. The Jaguars have two young pass rushers they like in Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson. Both project well into the multi-front defense Joe Cullen plans to run. But a defense like Cullen's will need multiple guys that can rush.
Insert Joseph Ossai, who played under Jaguars' secondary coach Chris Ash at Texas in 2020. "Chris Ash is amazing. He's a great coach, a great leader," Ossai told me the media recently.
Over his last two seasons at Texas, Ossai proved to be an effective pass rusher and better than expected run defender. He wowed at his pro day with a 41.5" vert, 1011 broad jump, and 4.63 40-yard dash. He's another pass rusher that should thrive in a multi-front defense focused on maximizing each player's skill set.
#65 Overall - DB Elijah Molden, Washington
Molden is the first player that the Jaguars haven't had an obvious connection to, but his play speaks for itself. The Jaguars feel good about their top-four cornerbacks, but Molden improves the defensive back room as a whole. He's diminutive but packs a punch and has tremendous ball skills and instincts. He can align at safety or nickel cornerback, allowing Joe Cullen to use him as a defensive chess piece.
#90 Overall - RB Michael Carter, North Carolina
(Trade #147, #170 for #90)
Carter being on the board at this point is a bit iffy, but there's a legitimate chance that guys like Kenneth Gainwell and Trey Sermon get drafted ahead of Carter, and if that happens, this scenario is likely. The Jaguars want to add a change of pace back to spell James Robinson and Carlos Hyde. They get that and then some in Michael Carter. The 5'8", 201-pound running back averaged over eight yards per carry in 2020 and added 25 catches for 267 yards. His stats are impressive, but his play style is why teams will look to add him on day two of the draft. Carter runs low to the ground and shows tremendous agility, vision, and short-area quickness. He has underrated contact balance and can run through arm tackles. He could quickly become the second half of an upper-echelon running back duo in Jacksonville.
#106 Overall - DT Tyler Shelvin, LSU
Shelvin is a mammoth in the middle — just the type of space-eater that makes things easier for everyone around him. Joe Cullen will love his ability on early downs, and Jaguars' defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi was at Alabama when Nick Saban offered Shelvin a scholarship. Shelvin ultimately chose to play at LSU, but he's been on Lupoi's radar for a long time. His addition helps relieve the sting of losing Tyson Alualu, and while they aren't the same player, both are excellent in run defense.
#249 Overall - S Tyler Coyle, Purdue
At this point in the draft, you're usually just throwing a dart. Coyle is an elite athlete that has serious upside but a long way to go. Coyle transferred from UConn to Purdue in 2020, where he only played in three games. But in 2019, Coyle racked up 86 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, an interception, two forced fumbles, and a defensive touchdown. At 6-foot and 209-pounds, Coyle ran a 4.41 40, posted a 39-inch vert, put up 24 reps on the bench press, and tested well in the short shuttle. The kid is an all-world athlete at the safety position. I believe Urban Meyer and company will prioritize finding high upside players late in the draft, and that's exactly what the Jaguars have done here.
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