JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Jake from Cary, NC
What does Urban's acquisition of cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin (free agency) and Tyson Campbell (high draft pick) say about his views of cornerback CJ Henderson?
I have received multiple versions of this question since the Jaguars selected Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell with the No. 33 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, the first selection of Round 2. While I suppose I understand people believing the selection said something about the Jaguars' feelings regarding Henderson, and while a few local media quickly jumped to the same conclusion, adding Griffin and Campbell this offseason doesn't reflect on Henderson – the No. 9 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Head Coach Urban Meyer wants his secondary to play well in man-to-man coverage, and he made clear after the draft that he didn't believe that happened enough for the Jaguars last season. You need more than two cornerbacks playing at a high level to play man-to-man effectively across the back of the defense; you actually need at least three – if not four. Signing Griffin and Campbell gives the Jaguars three front-line cornerbacks – five if you count Sidney Jones IV and Tre Herndon. Bottom line, and this bears repeating as this question inevitably will be discussed here in future weeks: You don't need one good corner in the NFL, and you don't need two. You need three or four, at least.
Doug from Jax Beach, FL
John, I loved our draft – because football minds far better than mine, yours (probably) and all of the talking heads on ESPN made the picks. Anyone can argue that the Jags brass should have done this or that, but that "anyone" has far less knowledge than our coaches. Personally, I would not have picked a running back in Round 1. But I trust that Meyer knew what he was doing, and I know he made Trevor Lawrence happy with that pick. Winning is the primary objective, not making TL happy. But if the two coincide, it's that win-win. Ask Green Bay if they wish they had paid more attention to making QB1 happy. I also think Meyer used his college connections well in determining who to draft (and who not to). Anyway, we'll all find out in a year or three how the Jag staff really did, but for now; I love it. You?
The Jaguars' approach made sense. Remember: The Jaguars weren't so much thinking "running back" when they selected Travis Etienne of Clemson No. 25 overall, they were thinking about adding an impact, big-play element to the offense. That's an element Meyer believed was sorely lacked last season. Meyer had his eye on wide receiver Kadarius Toney of Florida at that spot (No. 25) before Toney was selected by the New York Giants at No. 20. Again, that wasn't a case of not liking the team's current receivers; it was wanting to add a big-play element. And while keeping Lawrence happy was a positive, I suppose, I wouldn't overplay that angle of the Etienne selection. As far as Meyer using his college connections throughout the draft, there's little doubt that was the case. He has made clear throughout the offseason that acquiring players who fit this team's new culture was a priority. Getting comfortable with players through in-person contact/conversations was difficult – if not impossible – before this draft because of COVID-19 restrictions. Meyer and the Jaguars took advantage of contacts and knowledge of players to ensure that knowledge before this draft. Will that be the approach moving forward? We'll see.
Don from Marshall, NC
The thing that all great coaches have in common is the ability to recognize talent when the see it. How some of our fans think they know more than Urban Meyer is kind of comical. My gosh let it play out a little bit before you go running off to LA. Go Jaguars!
John, I agree overall with draft selections but to clarify no player has ever come back from an ACL tear and had the same or better 40 time. Slightly concerned about taking so many with prior medical problems.
I'm not a doctor, but I've been around long enough to know that ever and never are dangerous words. In the case of your question, "ever" also is an incorrect word. While anterior cruciate ligament surgery does not make a player faster by itself, there are many cases of players – particularly younger players – returning to equal speed and agility as before the injury.
Rob from Fleming Island
No question ... just wanted to say I think you and the others did an outstanding job prior, during, and after with all your draft insight and commentaries.
Thank you, but who are these "others" of which you speak?
Nate from St. Pete, Florida
I wanted to find out a little more about some of our guys, so I did random "way-too-early" mock drafts from last summer. Lawrence, Etienne, offensive tackle Walker Little, linebacker Dylan Moses, defensive tackle Jay Tufele, cornerback Tyson Campbell and safety Andre Cisco were all mocked as first round picks in MULTIPLE drafts that I was able to find. Whether it was opting out, getting hurt or just being overlooked, we got a bunch of guys that have measurables, pedigree and production. I'm excited to see them on the field and meshing with the already good, young core that we have.
The Jaguars clearly favored measurables and pedigree with this draft – and as you mentioned, players such as Little, Tufele and Cisco appear to have slid because of injuries or because they missed all or much of the 2020 season. Or, in the case of Little and Cisco, a combination thereof. But selecting players with a past ACL injury doesn't bother me – particularly in the case of an offensive lineman such as Little. Look, every draft is a projection and a gamble. Lawrence is the major story of this draft. If he's as good as advertised, it's a great draft. If the Jaguars get two or three players worth re-signing to long-term deals out of this class after their rookie contracts beyond that, it's an unbelievable one.
Jake from Dude from Duval
Why did the Jaguars select oft-injured OT Walker Little with the 45thpick when they could have had Clemson OT Jackson Carman (whom the Bengals selected a pick later)?
They liked Little more and remember: Little was not "oft-injured." He sustained a torn ACL in the first week of the 2019 season and did not play in 2020. He is a highly regarded player and probably would have gone earlier had he played last season.
Alon from Malibu, CA
Do you see the Jaguars making further free agent moves now that draft is done? Example signing Trey Burton since they did not draft a receiving tight end.
Yes, I imagine the Jaguars will either sign or trade for a veteran tight end before the season.
Jerry from Hero, FL
John, with the need for receiving tight end still hanging over the team do you think we might bring back Tyler Eifert or has that ship already sailed?
The Jaguars opted not to pick up the option on Tyler Eifert's contract shortly before free agency began in March. It would be highly unusual if that ship changed course.
Adrian from El Paso, TX
What are the chances for a duuuvaaaal Hard Knocks? Seems like it's up to Meyer and his comfort as a first-year coach with hundreds of cameras. Have you heard anything?
I have not. I would be surprised if the Jaguars were on Hard Knocks this season. Teams generally avoid the distraction if possible, and first-year head coaches – such as Meyer – are allowed to say no.
Richard from Saint Augustine, FL
John, now that we have drafted Lawrence I have a minor concern. He is listed as being 6' 6'' tall and weighing 213 pounds. That weight for a professional athlete that tall is likely fine for the NBA, MLB and maybe for the NHL but it seems a little light for the NFL. I'm guessing the Jags will want him to add 10-12 pounds. Your thoughts?
I'm guessing you're right.
Josh from Atlanta, GA
In the past few years, we have signed dozens of UDFA's. This year is the smallest class I can remember. Any reasoning that matters or there just wasn't a need to add anyone else?
The 2021 draft class overall was thin. General Manager Trent Baalke said after the draft they wanted to sign undrafted free agents who they believed would improve the 90-man roster. In that sense, signing six undrafted free agents tells you they didn't believe there were a whole lot of players after the draft better than what already was on the roster.
Mike from BillMurrayHill
Hi, John! Do you think Etienne could play a little tight end? Could he be a bit of a hybrid on certain downs?
No, I do not think Etienne will play any tight end. I do think you'll see him used extensively lined up outside the tackles in addition to lining up at running back.