JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's four takeaways from Wednesday's media availability, with Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer and General Manager Trent Baalke discussing next week's 2021 NFL Draft:
1.Value will dictate decisions. Meyer and Baalke each made this clear Wednesday, with Meyer admitting that focusing on value over need won't be easy in his first draft. "As a coach, I find myself always looking at need," said Meyer, in his first NFL season after 17 seasons as one of the most-successful coaches in college football history. "That's where you have to be cautious. You start chasing players." Baalke, the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2016, called trusting the draft board and drafting value critical. "When you don't trust it, that's when you make mistakes," he said, adding that focusing on need causes evaluators to overvalue players. "If you do that consistently," he said, "you're not going to be in the game long." Meyer added, "The whole idea of value is completely new to me. I'm relying on [defensive coordinator] Joe Cullen and [offensive coordinator] Darrell Bevell, and obviously Trent and his staff. I'm a quick learner. The last three or four weeks, this has been our entire life. Trusting the board is key. I'm at the point, almost, where I will trust it. As coach, I can see where we need this, we need this, we need this. That's where you get yourself in trouble. It's been a great learning experience for me."
2.D-Line remains a priority. Meyer on Wednesday reiterated his belief that a strong defensive line is his top offseason priority. The Jaguars signed defensive linemen Roy Robertson-Harris and Jihad Ward as free agents in March, also trading with the New Orleans Saints for defensive tackle Malcom Brown. "We addressed some of the needs in free agency," Meyer said. "That was obviously a high-need area. We're not done yet. How good is your team? How good is your D-Line? That's the first answer. We have some really solid pieces that we believe will get better as they get a little more mature and the scheme fits some of our personnel." Meyer said the edge position is stronger in this draft than interior defensive linemen, "but there are some really quality players inside as well."
3.Offensive line won't be ignored. The Jaguars' placing the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson in March solidified the team's plans to return the 2020 starting offensive line of Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Brandon Linder, right guard A.J. Cann and right tackle Jawaan Taylor. Meyer said that won't preclude drafting the position next week. "We will try to help bring some competition to the offensive line in the draft," he said. "We're planning on doing that."
4.Meyer is pleased with player participation in the offseason program. Meyer said while the circumstances aren't ideal, he likes how players have approached the early part of team's voluntary 2021 offseason program. The program began April 19, with meetings held virtually rather than in person because of COVID-19. "The majority of coaches I know get into it for the player and the relationship with the player," he said. "There's nothing quite like walking into the weight room and hanging out with the player – going into the training room. We've had a bunch of players here. Our players have been fantastic. We started virtual meetings Monday. It's the world we live in. We're making the most of it. It's not perfect, but you know what? I give our guys a lot of credit because I know it's all voluntary. It's not the best because you're not there in person with them, but it's darned close."