Mock draft season is in full swing, and now that Senior Bowl week is in the books, I figured it was time for another mid-week mock draft.
Instead of providing a full breakdown of free agency here, as I normally do, I decided to take a different approach. Here, we will assume that the Jaguars enter the draft, having patched up nearly all of their glaring holes with either big-time free agents or bridge players, allowing them to enter the draft with a legitimate BPA/best value approach.
Before we get kick this mock draft off, I wanted to take a moment to share some of my basic draft principles when it comes to positional value. There are several positions that I'd prefer to target in the first round on a near yearly basis. Quarterback is the most critical position in all of sports, so you should be taking one early every year until you have identified a legitimate franchise guy. I view offensive tackle and defensive end as the next two most important positions because they have a massive impact on the game, and it's generally harder to find talent at those spots later in the draft. After that, cornerback and wide receiver are also critical. You have to have 3-4 of each of those players that are legitimate starters to be a well-rounded football team. The final position that I think can regularly be addressed early on is a penetrating defensive tackle, because, like defensive ends, they can wreak havoc in the backfield.
Having gotten that off my chest, It's important to clarify that those positional values might not hold true in certain years. For example, in 2021, the draft class appears to be loaded with talent at offensive tackle and defensive end, so you might be able to address those spots later than usual. And the trend of being able to find quality receivers late into the draft isn't changing either.
I'm also a firm believer in getting as many selections in the top 100-ish picks of the draft as possible. The odds of success are much higher on the first two days of the draft and adding a bunch of late-round picks to an NFL roster every year isn't sustainable.
Are you bored yet? Great, let's get to this mock draft.
#1 Overall - QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
A generational talent. The Jaguars land their first legitimate franchise quarterback in team history.
#25 Overall - OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, Southern Cal
I'm not sure where Tucker will start for the Jaguars in 2021, but he will find his way into the starting lineup. Depending on what type of investment the Jags make at left tackle prior to the draft, he could slot in as Lawrence's blindside protector. He could also bump AJ Cann out of the starting lineup or even push Jawaan Taylor at right tackle. Vera-Tucker is an excellent athlete with a polished game and plenty of versatility.
#33 Overall - DT Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
Perhaps the most talented interior penetrator in the draft, Onwuzurike opted out in 2020, but that's no cause for concern. He's been preparing for the NFL Draft all fall/winter and looked dominant during his only practice at the Senior Bowl. He's a bit lean, but his main task is to create interior pressure and get to the QB. That'll be no problem at the next level with his excellent athleticism and hand usage. He should be a three-down player as he's proven stout against the run as well.
#46 Overall - TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
I don't believe tight end is one of the more important positions in an Urban Meyer program, but if Freiermuth falls to this spot, he's too talented to pass on. He can function as an in-line blocker but also excel down the field. He a good athlete for the position and is excellent with his body control and in contested catch situations. Giving Trevor Lawrence a versatile weapon of Freiermuth's talents at this point in the draft was a no-brainer.
#64 Overall - S Jevon Holland, Oregon
Another Pac-12 player that didn't play in 2020, Holland is a pure free safety. He has range, ball skills, and toughness. With Trevon Moehrig long gone, Holland is the best option for the Jaguars, especially for today's game. He can play single high with the best of them and should find his way into the starting lineup quickly.
#81 Overall - RB Michael Carter, UNC
Our first trade up has the Jaguars sending two fourth-round picks and a future sixth-rounder to move up into the third round and take dynamic running back that will add explosiveness to the Jaguars' offense. As good as James Robinson is, the Jaguars shouldn't run him into the ground forever. Carter is a perfect change of pace with vision, contact balance, lateral quickness, and juice. While giving up two fourth rounders for a running back might be steep, the Jaguars have plenty more ammo to move back up in the draft, and Carter will be a legitimate difference-maker.
#99 Overall - WR/RB Demetric Felton, UCLA
In our second and final trade up of the draft, the Jags give up a fifth, a sixth, and a seventh to get up into the back of the third round. Felton played receiver in high school, running back in college, and now looks to make the transition back to receiver as a pro. He dominated the competition in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, showing off fantastic feet and route-running ability. He could virtually line up anywhere for the Jaguars — running back, h-back, outside receiver, and slot receiver. He's a weapon that teams won't know how to defend at the next level.
#169 Overall - CB Shakur Brown, Michigan State
I actually have Brown ranked as a day two pick, but there's a lot of depth at cornerback this year. He has ideal height and weight for the outside and plays a physical brand of ball. Brown allowed a passer rating of just 52 and picked off five passes in 2020. He has starting potential on the outside.
#246 Overall - OT Daniel Faalale, Minnesota
There's no reason in the world a player of Faalele's caliber should fall this far, but there's extreme depth at offensive tackle this year. He projects best into a gap/power scheme, but at this point in the draft, he's a fit anywhere. At worst, he should be a quality backup right tackle, and at best, he could be a plus starter. He looks to have enough movement skills to start for a zone heavy team on tape, even though he weighs in at 400-pounds (not a typo).
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