JACKSONVILLE – Urban Meyer likes a lot of things about this offseason.
Among the things is Shaquill Griffin.
"Shaq has been great," the Jaguars' head coach said Monday afternoon on Day 1 of Jaguars 2021 Minicamp presented by Baptist Health at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. "He's got a leadership personality, every day worked his tail off and very talented, obviously.
"I couldn't be [happier]."
But Griffin isn't the only thing Meyer likes about a Jaguars 2021 Free-Agency Class that also included in its first wave players such as defensive linemen Roy Robertson-Harris and Jihad Ward, wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr., Phillip Dorsett II and Jamal Agnew, running back Carlos Hyde, safety Rayshawn Jenkins, tight end Chris Manhertz and safety Rudy Ford.
Meyer expressed concern initially about not able to talk to free agents until they signed, and therefore being unsure how the new players might fit the team's culture.
Those concerns are no more.
"You start talking about whatever number of free agents we brought in here … they're all going to contribute, they've all been really good for the locker room, really good for the team," Meyer said. "I know that it was something I was worried about – it's been really good."
Griffin, a third-round selection by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2017 NFL Draft, spent his first four seasons with the Seahawks – a team that made the postseason the past three seasons. He said what has stood out to him about the Jaguars this offseason is that significant camaraderie is already developing.
"When you've got a chemistry like that, it's something different," he said. "What's been huge for us, mainly, is not just practicing; it's what we do outside of this building. … We all accept each other with open arms. There's no judgment. Everybody wants to see everybody be great and do great.
"When you have a room like that, that's so accepting, it's easy to say, 'Oh yeah, that's my brother. Oh yeah, I'll do anything for him.' That's the type of relationship we've got to build. And it starts not just in this facility, but outside of here.
"[Those are] the little details that are going to start now, that are going to help us get to where we want to go."
Meyer on Monday reiterated what he said early in the offseason about tight ends James O'Shaughnessy and Ben Ellefson, calling the pair two of the team's most-improved players. "When you watch last year's film compared to this year, what I saw [from the pair] early in Phase Two [of the offseason program] was very much improved. We're still not where we need to be at that room right now, but we're getting closer." The Jaguars currently have six tight ends on the roster: O'Shaughnessy, Ellefson, Manhertz, rookie Luke Farrell, Tyler Davis and Tim Tebow.
Meyer said veteran Leon Jacobs, a strong-side linebacker in the 4-3 scheme the Jaguars played in recent seasons, is playing the strong-side outside backer position in the Jaguars' current 3-4-based scheme. Meyer on Monday said Jacobs is working at that spot along with players such as Lerentee McCray and K'Lavon Chaisson. "It's really a Sam linebacker who also rushes," Meyer said. Chaisson, a first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, missed Monday after testing positive for COVID-19.
The Jaguars had four tryout players participating in rookie minicamp Monday: wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, cornerbacks Simeon Thomas and Keiarae Russell and offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins. Treadwell, who played collegiately at the University of Mississippi, was a first-round selection by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2016 NFL Draft who has 71 career receptions for 750 yards and four touchdowns for the Vikings and Atlanta Falcons in five NFL seasons. "I thought he looked pretty good – big body that can run, great hands," Meyer said of Treadwell. "I was surprised when [General Manager] Trent [Baalke] brought him to me and he didn't disappoint today."
Meyer on the importance of players maintaining their strength and conditioning in the upcoming break between '21 minicamp and 2021 Training Camp, which begins July 27: "I believe we weren't the biggest, strongest, fastest versions of ourselves. We're used to a certain way of doing our business. I just talked to our team about that. I expect us to have a great offseason and show up ready to compete."