Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

Day 1 Wrap: "They're winners…"

FILE - At left, in a Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, file photo, Clemson's Travis Etienne runs out of the backfield to score a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida State, in Clemson, S.C. At right, in a Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, file photo, Clemson's Trevor Lawrence rushes on a quarterback keeper during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Boston College, in Clemson, S.C. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and tailback Travis Etienne love competing on the same side with the top-ranked Tigers. If they keep playing as they have, they may be competing against each other for college football's biggest individual prize, the Heisman Trophy. (AP Photo/Richsard Shiro, File)

JACKSONVILLE – One was a sure thing.

The other held a lot more drama, but what mattered to Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer late Thursday was the combination of the team's first two selections in the 2021 NFL Draft.

"They're winners," Meyer said.

The Jaguars on Thursday, as expected, selected Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall. Three hours later, they used their second first-round selection – No. 25 overall – on Lawrence's college teammate, Clemson running back Travis Etienne.

The first selection had been rumored for months, since the Jaguars secured the No. 1 overall selection for the first time in franchise history in December. Meyer, hired in mid-January, said the Jaguars essentially determined they would take Lawrence in early February.

"We feel good about our quarterback," he said.

What Meyer didn't feel great about throughout the offseason was the team's explosiveness on offense. It was a subject he and General Manager Trent Baalke mentioned as a priority multiple times in the offseason, and it was motivation for the team's second selection Thursday.

Etienne, the Atlantic Coast Conference's all-time leading rusher, is a dynamic speedy running back who rushed for 4,952 yards and 70 touchdowns on 686 career carries in four seasons at Clemson. He caught 102 passes at Clemson for 1,155 yards and eight touchdowns.

"I've just always had a very strong belief in speed," Meyer said. "The idea of offense is to create matchup nightmares. He's as good outside as a receiver as he is as a running back. He's a high-end character guy who has elite speed. The way we've always looked at offensive football is anytime you can find that dual-threat guy who can carry the ball and catch the ball … he's a piece of the puzzle that's hard to find."

Etienne became the latest member of an already-strong running back room. James Robinson rushed for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns as an undrafted rookie last season, and the team signed veteran Carlos Hyde as an unrestricted free agent in March. Meyer said he sees Robinson and Hyde as downhill, powerful running backs and that Etienne could be used in two-back sets.

"He's certainly a third-down back and a matchup issue," Meyer said of Etienne, adding of the running-back position, "Our goal is to be in the top fourth at every position. I think we solidified that with James, Carlos and Travis. We're good at running back."

Meyer said strengthening the running game was an offseason focus, the idea being to help Lawrence's transition to the NFL. He cited the addition of blocking tight end Chris Manhertz and Hyde as unrestricted free agents as part of the approach, too.

"Our offensive line has to play better," he said. "That's the next. Our offensive line has to play really well. We're confident we have good players there."

Meyer, who spent 17 seasons as one of the most successful college coaches of all-time, said the moments before selecting Etienne were a dramatic introduction to the nerve-wracking nature of the NFL Draft.

"It got a little tense there are the end," Meyer said. "I'm sitting there and it's like fourth-and-1, watching to see who the [Pittsburgh] Steelers are going to take [at No. 24]."

The Steelers selected Alabama running back Najee Harris.

"They took a great player," Meyer said. "But the guy we had penciled in, we got him."

Baalke, discussing Etienne moments after Meyer, reiterated the point that he and Meyer have made throughout the offseason – that the need for speed and explosiveness was glaring for an offense that lacked those elements during a 1-15 season last season.

"It's hard to have 14-, 15-, 16-play drives in the National Football League," he said. "You have to be able to flip the field and you have to be able to score from every level of the field. The only way you can do that is to have explosive players. We feel Travis is one of those.

"We feel very good about how we ended up the day today. Travis was someone we had penciled in at 25 and we were hoping he would get to us. We had several others as well. You always have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. We feel very good about what we got at one and what we got at 25."

Related Content