The 2021 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 29. As a lead-up to the draft, we’ll be giving a team-by-team breakdown for positional needs. For each team, we’ll give an overview of the current depth chart and how big of a need each position in the upcoming draft. You can find the rest of the team needs (as they’re updated) and the rest of our draft content in the 2021 NFL Draft hub.
Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 DRAFT PICKS OVERVIEW
Round 1 (1)
Round 1 (25)
Round 2 (33)
Round 2 (45)
Round 3 (65)
Round 4 (106)
Round 4 (130)
Round 5 (145)
Round 5 (170)
Round 7 (249)
Jacksonville Jaguars Offense
By Rich Hribar
The Jaguars were 27th in the NFL in expected points added via their passing game in 2020 (3.9 points), 27th in yards per pass attempt (6.4 yards), and 29th in yards per completed pass (10.2 yards). They ran through multiple starts from Gardner Minshew, Mike Glennon, and Jake Luton over the course of the season.
Quarterback is a need, but with the No. 1 pick, the Jaguars are a no-brainer to take Trevor Lawrence in an attempt to rectify the ghosts of first-round passers from Jacksonville’s past, joining the likes of Byron Leftwich, Blaine Gabbert, and Blake Bortles.
The Jaguars added C.J. Beathard on a two-year contract this offseason. Gardner Minshew has come up in trade rumors this offseason, with both he and Jake Luton each still have multiple seasons remaining on their rookie contracts.
Releasing Leonard Fournette in the 11th hour of the offseason last year, the Jaguars found a diamond in the rough in undrafted rookie James Robinson. In a season where many rookie backs took a slower burn to production, Robinson was a workhorse from day one with the Jaguars. The undrafted back racked up 1,414 yards from scrimmage on 289 touches with 10 touchdowns in 14 games played. Those yards produced (on a 1-15 team) were the third-most in NFL history for an undrafted rookie and the most since 1962. Robinson is due just $781,666 and $896,667 over the next two seasons with restricted rights in 2023.
The Jaguars do not need to press an early running back after hitting on Robinson, but as we have lived recently with Phillip Lindsay and Thomas Rawls, these situations can be fragile for backs with low leverage in terms of draft capital.
Regardless if the Jaguars lean on Robinson as their lead back or not entering 2021, Robinson will be hard-pressed to sustain his rate of 84.8% of the Jacksonville backfield carries and 85.8% of their backfield touches next season. And Robinson himself was banged up to end his rookie season on that workload.
The Jaguars have already added veteran Carlos Hyde, who has ties to both general manager Trent Baalke and new head coach Urban Meyer. Hyde will be 31 years old to start the season. As veteran depth, this team still lacks any speed component.
Ryquell Armstead was a fifth-round selection in 2019 who missed all of 2020 due to COVID and is also signed through 2022.
Baalke has drafted a running back in all six of the drafts he has been a part of as a general manager with just one of those backs selected later than the fourth round.
Jacksonville targeted their wide receivers 62% of the time in 2020 (14th), but ranked 15th in wide receiver success rate (54%) and 23rd in yards per target (7.6 yards) on those looks.
Not much went right for D.J. Chark in 2020. He missed three games to injury while seeing his receptions per game (4.1), yardage per game (54.3), catch rate (57.0%), and touchdowns (five) all decline from his 2019 breakout. Dating back to midseason of 2019, just seven games over that span reached 60 yards over his past 23 games played. On the positive end, Chark was fourth in the NFL in air yards per game (100.2). Chark enters 2021 on the final season of his rookie contract and is an unrestricted free agent after the season.
2020 second-rounder Laviska Shenault had a productive rookie campaign, catching 58-of-79 targets for 600 yards and five touchdowns while tacking on 91 yards on the ground. Shenault will get the Percy Harvin/Curtis Samuel parallels drawn to him with the Jaguars bringing in Meyer as head coach, but he was going to be used as a dual-usage asset regardless of what system he was in. Shenault’s 1.55 yards per route run exceeded D.J. Chark (1.48) in 2020.
Jacksonville also added Marvin Jones this offseason. At age 30, Jones appeared in all 16 games for the first time since 2017, securing 76-of-115 targets for 978 yards and nine touchdowns. Jones just turned 31 in March, but has always shown scoring upside with nine receiving touchdowns in three of his past four seasons. Reuniting with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who was with the Lions the previous two seasons, Jones shares a similar overlap in usage to D.J. Chark, to who this new regime does not have any current ties.
The team also went out and tacked on contracts for Phillip Dorsett and Jamal Agnew to go along with having Collin Johnson on a rookie contract.
There is some talent here, but Chark’s expiring contract paired with Jones being past the age apex for wide receivers leaves plenty of pending wiggle room to keep adding to the position.
Jacksonville tight ends combined for 68 catches for 637 yards and two touchdowns in 2020 as the team was 25th in success rate (51%) targeting the position and 29th in yards per target (5.9 yards) on those passes.
Tyler Eifert led this group a year ago with just a 36-349-2 line, who remains an unsigned free agent. The team added run-blocker Chris Manhertz to the fold on a two-year contract, leaving a lot to be desired still at the position from a pass-catching stance. The Jaguars have been linked to Pat Freiermuth as a potential option at the top of Round 2, but the Jaguars should be expected to add a pass catcher here even if they pass at that stage of the draft.
LT: Cam Robinson/Will Richardson
LG: Andrew Norwell/K.C. McDermott/Garrett McGhin
C: Brandon Linder/Tyler Shatley
RG: A.J. Cann/Ben Bartch/Tre’Vour Wallace-Sims
RT: Jawaan Taylor/Derwin Gray/Austen Pleasants
Jacksonville ended 2020 ranked 25th in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate (51%) and 26th in their Run Block Win Rate (69%) metrics while grading out 19th in collective pass blocking grade and 25th in run blocking grade per Pro Football Focus.
The tackle spots were the largest problem for the Jaguars as right tackle Jawaan Taylor allowed the most pressures in the league last season (58) among tackles while Cam Robinson allowed 40 pressures last season, the ninth-most among tackles last season.
Despite the performance from a year ago, Meyer has complimented this offensive line at just about every turn this offseason.
Three starters — Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, and Taylor — are signed through the 2022 season. Right guard A.J. Cann is in the final season of his current contract while left tackle Cam Robinson playing under the franchise tag in 2021.
The Jaguars should add depth and competition here to the offensive line, with an eye on both tackle positions and right guard with Robinson and Cann’s future contract statuses in the air.
Jacksonville Jaguars Defense
By Dan Pizzuta
Interior Defensive Line
Taven Bryan was a first-round pick in 2018 but he hasn’t really lived up to that status. Bryan had a good year as a pass rusher in 2019 but that fell back down a bit in 2020. Bryan ranked just 90th in pressure rate among defensive tackles in 2020. 2021 could be the final year of Bryan’s rookie contract. The team has a decision on his fifth-year option due in May, but it doesn’t look like the value is worth picking up.
DaVon Hamilton played 36% of the defensive snaps as a third-round rookie in 2020. At 320 pounds, Hamilton is more of a big run stopper, but he ranked better than Bryan in pressure rate (71st among defensive tackles) and added five quarterback hits.
Caraun Reid has been a player who has been able to get pressure, but not many sacks, as a rotational interior player. The 30-year-old only got into seven games for 13% of the overall defensive snaps last season.
Malcolm Brown was signed as a free agent this offseason, but he’s another big run stopper that doesn’t add much to the pass rush. Brown, though, is just 27 years old and signed a two-year deal.
Jacksonville tried to sign Tyson Alualu but after agreeing to terms, the defensive tackle decided to go back to Pittsbugh.
The Jaguars tried to pair two first-round picks on the edge, but Year 1 of that did not go as planned. 2019 first-round pick Josh Allen only played in eight games due to a knee injury. He missed two games early in the season, returned, but went on injured reserve for the final six games of the season. He ranked 41st among edge rushers in pressure rate.
2020 first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson played all 16 games but only got three starts and played 51% of the total defensive snaps. Chaisson’s pressure rate ranked just 91st among edge rushers. His nine quarterback hits suggest there should have been more than one sack on his ledger but the down-to-down consistency still wasn’t there for the rookie.
There is some depth behind the top two pass rushers. Dawuane Smoot played 59% of the defensive snaps last season. He was more of an edge setter, but was quite good at it. He ranked eighth among edge rushers in ESPN’s Run Stop Win Rate. Smoot signed a two-year deal in the offseason to stay with the Jaguars.
Myles Jack was great in 2020. 55.9% of his tackles came before a first down was gained, which ranked fourth among linebackers in 2020. He was also 16th in yards allowed per coverage snap. Jack signed a massive four-year extension in 2019 and he’s signed through 2023.
Joe Schobert was an odd five-year signing for the Jaguars last offseason and he didn’t do much to warrant that type of investment. He was 10th in the rate of tackles made before a first down but just 38th in yards allowed per coverage snap.
No team used base defense personnel more than Jacksonville last season at 40%. That seems likely to change with new defensive coordinator Joe Cullen coming over from such a defensive back-heavy defense with the Baltimore Ravens (though it should be noted Cullen was the defensive line coach).
The team signed Damien Wilson to a one-year deal to serve as depth and potentially fill in should base personnel be used again.
Shaquill Griffin was Jacksonville’s big get in free agency. Griffin was signed for three years to be the Jaguars’ top outside corner. Griffin has been inconsistent over the past few seasons and ranked 74th in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap among a group of 148 corners with at least 100 coverage snaps.
C.J. Henderson was the ninth overall pick last season but his rookie year only lasted eight games. Henderson suffered a groin injury and was placed on injured reserve. The play up to that point wasn’t great, as was the case for most rookie corners in 2020. Henderson ranked 140th among that group of 148 corners in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap. It’s slightly more concerning than the typical rookie since Henderson’s college charting wasn’t all that great either, but he was a super fast and athletic prospect.
Tre Herndon played both outside and in the slot and ranked 90th in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap.
2020 seventh-round pick Chris Claybrooks saw a third of the team’s defensive snaps and ranked 141st in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap.
Sidney Jones had a wild split in coverage. He ranked 142nd in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap but had the 14th-lowest completion rate allowed. He was a highly targeted corner in coverage last season and allowed some big plays when they were completed.
Rayshawn Jenkins was another free agent add for the Jaguars this offseason. Jenkins played 83% of the defensive snaps for the Chargers last season and spent most of it in the box. He’ll keep that role in Jacksonville, one he played well with the Chargers.
Jarrod Wilson played deep safety with 68% of the defensive snaps played (and 100% in 2019) and he’s currently in line to get that role again. Safety, though, has been mentioned as a top need for the Jaguars, either with their second first-round pick or early on Day 2. Trevon Moehrig could easily be an upgrade for this defense.
Andrew Wingard and Josh Jones both filled in for snaps both deep and in the box. It’s fine depth but it could be better with a talent improvement at the top.