Jacksonville Sports Day

NFL DRAFT: Jacksonville Jaguars Welcome Top Picks to the Jungle

PHOTO By NANCY BEECHER/Florida Sports Wire

Over the three days of the NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence was the obvious person who would bring a sense of promise and prosperity to Jacksonville.

The overall No. 1 draft choice and quarterback phenom already has captivated the area and the state and has made his presence felt through his initial involvement.

Yet, new head coach Urban Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke knew there had to be more surrounding Lawrence as the centerpiece.

This is a massive project, and the draft was a major part of the reconstruction to restore the Jaguars’ culture and bring them back to respectability.

Aside from Lawrence, Meyer and Baalke are both confident the remaining eight picks can play a major role in literally rebuilding the franchise from the bottom after a 1-15 campaign last year and recent years of futility.

“It was [a] long [three days], but I go back and look at the needs of this team,” said Meyer. “This team lost a lot of games last year. There were a bunch of games it could have won.”

Baalke agreed.

“We felt really good about the board,” added Baalke. “We didn’t deviate at all.”

The Jags brought some familiarity to Lawrence when they reunited him with Clemson teammate running back Travis Etienne with their second pick (25th) in the opening round. The prevailing thought had the Jags drafting on the defensive side of the ball at either cornerback or edge rusher, but they felt confident in Etienne, who was considered a second-round pick.

The duo has played together since they were freshmen and they worked together for an overall 39-3 record.  The speedy, fluid back rushed for nearly 5,000 yards and had more than 1,000 yards receiving in his four years with Lawrence at Clemson.

Etienne was ecstatic to join Lawrence.

“I know Trevor inside and out, so that’s going to be a very great feeling just to know that he’s a hard worker,” said Etienne. “There’s going to be great things happening on the field.”

The Jags did fill their need for a cornerback when they drafted Georgia corner Tyson Campbell with their first pick in the second round, and they then secured another need with Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little with their second selection in the round.

Campbell is known for his man coverage, but he has struggled with his consistent play. Despite his 6-7, 313-pound frame, Little could be considered a gamble or a hidden gem, as he played only one game due to injury in 2019 and opted out in 2020.

Syracuse safety Andre Cisco was chosen in the third round, and USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele grabbed the headline in the fourth.

Cisco is considered a ballhawk and should vie for a starting job, and Tufele (6-3, 315) will be a plug in the middle.

UAB’s Jordan Smith became their latest edge rusher, and Ohio State’s Luke Farrell is a possible solution at tight end, both in the fourth round. Smith could be a steal, and Farrell is regarded as a reliable blocker and steady pass catcher.

Georgia Tech wide receiver Jalen Camp rounded out the Jags’ picks in the sixth round. Camp is a big body who can get down field.

With Etienne as a mildly surprising first-round pick, the Jags deviated slightly from their presumed path, but they managed to address their issues. It does provide an increased sense of optimism for minicamp in May that officially will begin a new era in Jaguars’ football.

“When you look at the roster, there are some very good core players,” said Meyer. There are also some significant weaknesses that you had to hit. I think we’ve hit them.”

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