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Quick thoughts: Rookies and veterans to watch

8-5-21-Griffin

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Ashlyn Sullivan all offer two quick thoughts – one on a rookie and another on a veteran – on the Jaguars as 2021 Training Camp continues …

Oehser …

1.Trevor Lawrence, rookie quarterback. It's hard to discuss the Jaguars' rookie class – or anything about '21 training camp – without discussing Lawrence. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, he's the focus of the franchise for the foreseeable future. While Lawrence has not been as eye-catching in Week 2 as he was the first four days of camp, nothing about the first seven practices should remotely cause concern about Lawrence's future – or his ability to develop into an elite quarterback. Lawrence's multiple interceptions in practice this week are a contrast to a Week 1 when he was making a memorable play every day, but he responded well after errors – and his long touchdown pass to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. on Tuesday of this week was as memorable a throw as he has had in camp yet. As offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell noted this week, the Jaguars are throwing a massive amount of information at Lawrence during this stretch. Once that stops and Lawrence has time to absorb and adjust, there's no reason to believe he won't be fine.

2.Josh Allen, third-year linebacker/defensive end. Aside from Lawrence, there may be no important player on the Jaguars' roster. Remember: Allen, the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, was widely considered one of the best prospects in his class. He has elite-level, franchise-defining ability – and few NFL teams have a combination of All-Pro edge rusher on one side of the ball and All-Pro quarterback on the other. Neither Lawrence nor Allen is at that level yet, but the Jaguars need Allen to develop to that point. If he does so this season, and if he can come close to the production he had during a Pro Bowl rookie season, the Jaguars' defense has a chance to be significantly improved. Allen so far in camp has very much looked ready for a breakout season. He has athleticism, strength and prototypical size – and he has moved and played like it so far in training camp. Stay tuned. This could get good in a hurry.

Sexton …

1.Walker Little, rookie offensive tackle. If all you watched of training camp was Wednesday's pass-protection drill, you would declare left tackle Walker Little the starter. The rookie from Stanford has all the tools – height, length, power, flexibility and intellect – and now that the pads are on, we can see his nasty streak. He thoroughly dominated the competition Wednesday, and I left that drill wondering how they could possibly keep him off the field when the regular season starts in September. I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that his skill set, technique and intensity make him one of the best five offensive linemen right now. All he really lacks is experience – and he's lacking quite a bit when you consider he hasn't played since early in the 2019 season. He will start at some point in 2021 and should stay in the lineup for years to come. This kid was an excellent selection at No. 45 overall in April.

2.Shaquill Griffin, fifth-year cornerback. He has taken the reins in the Jaguars' secondary and I'm not sure there is anyone else who can make the case to hold them. Maybe his longtime buddy, safety Rayshawn Jenkins? Griffin has a powerful and positive personality; whether speaking in front of the media or to his teammates, he comes across as easy to follow and fun to be around. He can also play –and now that the defensive backs can attack the football, not a day has gone by without Griffin making a play down the field. He seems to enjoy the challenge of the hotshot rookie quarterback and has energized his fellow defensive backs when he's cut off wide receiver Jones or DJ Chark Jr. from Lawrence. Head coach Urban Meyer told the media on Wednesday that Griffin and Jenkins bring it every play, every day – making it easy to justify that all the time and money the Jaguars invested in researching and signing Griffin as an unrestricted free agent this past March.

Sullivan…

1.Luke Farrell, rookie tight end. The theme of the tight ends so far in training camp is that no one has really broken away as the clear "No. 1" at the position. Farrell, a fifth-round draft selection from Ohio State, is starting to break away as that guy. During practice Tuesday and Wednesday, he made some impressive grabs in the middle of the field among defenders, using his 6-feet-5 height to his advantage. Farrell has all the potential and to be the pass-catching tight end this team has been looking for. Can he take advantage of this opportunity? That will be something to watch throughout camp and the preseason.

2.Damien Wilson, seventh-yea linebacker. Until this week, I barely thought about what Wilson can do for this defense. Wilson, a free agent acquisition from Kansas City, won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. He addressed the media on Tuesday, saying, "We're not here to be a runner-up or just compete for the division title. Everyone wants to win a championship. That's why we're here." There is some merit to that. Wilson has won on the biggest stage and knows what it takes. He likely won't start over Joe Schobert or Myles Jack, but he does know how to play every linebacker position and depth is exactly what this team needs switching to a 3-4 scheme. It is going to be hard to keep Wilson off the field from what we have seen at training camp.

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