Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer and his staff have wrapped up one of the most important parts of his first season as an NFL head coach, and that’s the first week of free agency. Typically, that’s the timeframe where the most significant additions are made to the roster, and also the point where fans and the front office can gauge the team’s biggest needs heading into the draft.
In early January, we assessed the Jags’ needs heading into free agency. With the free agency additions made over the last week-plus, we’ve now re-evaluated those needs to give fans an idea of what the Jags can do in the draft.
From their biggest needs to their minor ones, here is how we’ve ranked the Jags’ needs heading into the draft:
Jan 27, 2021; National defensive back Keith Taylor Jr. of Washington (8) drills during National practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
Not only were the Jags able to add a starter at cornerback in Shaq Griffin, but they re-signed two players who saw significant time on the field last season in Sidney Jones IV and Tre Herndon. When adding rookie CJ Henderson to the mix, the Jags could be a lot worse off at the cornerback position. On our last list of Jags needs that we posted after the regular season, cornerback was ranked third on the list. While they were able to land experienced players at cornerback last week, the biggest issue is health at the position. Two of the aforementioned names ended up on injured reserve last season in Jones and Henderson, and for that reason, they could afford to draft a healthy option at cornerback in April.
7. A speed threat at running back
Louisville running back Javian Hawkins (10) gains yards against Mississippi State during the second half of the Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday, Dec. 30, 2019.
James Robinson was fantastic for the Jags last season and ended it fifth in the league in rushing. He will end up being the Jags No. 1 running back as a result and will be a key part of the new regime’s offense. Since joining the Jags, Meyer has stated that the Jags want to build the running back’s room around Robinson. They checked off a key element in creating that structure by signing a veteran in Carlos Hyde, who brings a great deal of experience to the team. To fully complete the group and make it “Meyer approved,” the last thing that needs to be brought into the mix is a speed rusher. With several late picks in the draft, they will have ample opportunities to address this in the fourth to seventh rounds. That’s the range where they could target prospects like
6. Wide receiver
Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore (4) stiff arms Nebraska linebacker Will Honas (3) after evading Nebraska linebacker JoJo Domann (13) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette.
Cfb Purdue Vs Nebraska
While the Jags weren’t able to add a receiver like Curtis Samuel, they got a consistent veteran in Marvin Jones Jr. Combining his abilities with those of D.J. Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. will give Trevor Lawrence an underrated trio to work with out of the gate. The team also added speed threat Phillip Dorsett and another former Lions receiver, Jamal Agnew, who is a return specialist but is familiar with the offense. The upcoming receivers class is a solid one, and with the draft compensation the Jags have, they should add an explosive playmaker at the position. After all, that’s what Samuel would’ve brought to the table, but with him going to Washington, Urban Meyer may elect to get a similar player in the draft.
5. Defensive line
Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Christian Barmore (58) celebrates after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Jags did a solid job adding to their defensive line during free agency and made the unit one of the most improved on the team. They brought back Tyson Alualu, traded a seventh-round pick away for Malcom Brown, signed Roy Robertson-Harris, Jihad Ward, and re-signed Dawuane Smoot. These additions put the Jags in a situation where DaVon Hamilton could start at nose tackle if the team is going to predominantly be a 3-4 unit, while Roberts-Harris could start at one defensive end spot. They have Tyson Alualu, who could start at defensive end, too, but may want to use the draft to get younger at his position. That’s why the defensive line remains on this list, though it’s not a pressing need. Christian Barmore seems to be a popular pick for the Jags with the No. 25 overall pick, and he’d be a solid addition. If they want him or maybe Levi Onwuzurike, they are going to probably have to spend a top-33 pick on either player as there is a drop-off for defensive tackles after them.
4. Offensive tackle
Clemson offensive tacle Jackson Carman (79) played 100 snaps in the Notre Dame game, and Tigers coaches acknowledge that may be too much.
Clemson The Citadel Ncaa Football
The Jags decided to re-sign Cam Robinson by assigning him the franchise tag, so they appear to be set on the blindside for the year. Jawaan Taylor should be expected to man the right tackle spot as it’s simply too soon to give up on the 2019 second-round pick. However, neither player should stop the Jags from drafting an offensive tackle to groom if either struggle this season. The fact that the offensive tackle class is deep also should entice the Jags to come away with one in the third or fourth round range. Some prospects who could be available in that range include Stanford’s Walker Little, Clemson’s Jackson Carman, or BYU’s Brady Christensen. Either of the three would be intriguing additions to sit for a year and be one of the Jags’ No. 2 offensive tackles with Will Richardson.
Nov 2, 2019; Stillwater, OK, USA; TCU Horned Frogs safety Trevon Moehrig (7) turns to run after an interception during the fourth quarter of the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium. Oklahoma State defeated TCU 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
The Jags were able to come away from the first week of free agency with Rayshawn Jenkins but shouldn’t stop there. They certainly could afford to acquire an upgrade over Jarrod Wilson, who has been serviceable but unspectacular. Some fans expect the Jags to eventually look into acquiring Urban Meyer’s former player Malik Hooker — that is if a deal hasn’t already been put on the table. The Jags could also use the draft to get a healthier option than Hooker. Their No. 25 overall pick could particularly help the Jags at safety as that’s right about where TCU safety Trevon Moehrig is expected to come off the board. He’s widely regarded as the top safety in the class and would represent great value as a late first-round selection. He’d give the Jags an option at safety who could handle a variety of coverage duties, while Jenkins could maybe play closer to the line of scrimmage.
2. Tight end
Nov 7, 2020; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions tight end Pat Freiermuth (87) prior to the game against the Maryland Terrapins at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Tight end was the position Jags fans wanted to address the most by the front office in free agency, but the team wasn’t able to secure a top name like Hunter Henry or Jonnu Smith despite leading the league in salary cap. Now they will either have to hope they can trade for a veteran or acquire a TE1 in the draft. Both Zach Ertz and David Njoku have been thrown out as trade options amongst the Jags fanbase, but the asking price for either could be extremely high. That would put the Jags in a situation where the draft would be the most likely option, which means the Jags would have to address the position early in the process. The two prospects who make the most sense for the Jags are Pat Freiermuth and Brevin Jordan. Freiermuth’s former position coach at Penn State, Tyler Bowen, is currently on the Jags’ staff, while Jordan was recruited by Ohio State and Alabama. That’s important because Urban Meyer was the head coach for the Buckeyes, and Jaguars assistant Tosh Lupoi used to be the lead recruiter for Alabama. It wouldn’t be shocking if the Jags have both names in the draft day plans as their top-2 “must select” options. If they can land one of the two, that would give Trevor Lawrence a big reliable target to grow with as the Jags are already in good shape at wide receiver.
Feb 12, 2021; Clemson, SC, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer (middle) watches as Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence works out during Pro Day in Clemson, South Carolina. Mandatory Credit: David Platt/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Not much needs to be said here. The Jags have the first overall pick giving them a direct path to the top player in the draft in Lawrence. And with him drawing comparisons to Andrew Luck, the Jags who’ve been hurt tremendously by not having a QB1 last season and many seasons before that, aren’t in a position to pass on him.
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