In a little over a week, the wait will be over.
There aren't any secrets to how the 2021 NFL Draft will start on April 29. The Jacksonville Jaguars will certainly kick off the event -- a franchise first -- and select Clemson's Trevor Lawrence to lead them into the future.
But what about beyond Lawrence? How will the Jaguars build their team to support the new face of their franchise? The Jaguars have nine picks in this month's draft following the top pick and a lot of work is needed following a 1-15 2020.
To give an idea of how next weekend could play out, we stepped into the general manager's seat and conducted one of our final seven-round mock drafts for this year's event. The final one will come next Wednesday. With that in mind, here is our latest projections, taking needs, player stock, and value into account.
Note: For this exercise, we used Pro Football Network's mock draft simulator.
Round 1, No. 1: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence
If there were ever any questions about whether the Jaguars would make Trevor Lawrence their new franchise quarterback with the first overall pick (there shouldn't have been), Urban Meyer has put those to rest quite easily. Meyer hasn't been present at either the North Dakota State or BYU pro days to watch Trey Lance or Zach Wilson in person, and then Meyer openly admitted to NBC Sports' Peter King over the weekend that Lawrence is who he has zeroed in on.
"I’d have to say that’s the direction we’re going. I’ll leave that up to the owner when we make that decision official. But I’m certainly not stepping out of line that that’s certainly the direction we’re headed," Meyer told King when asked if there was any mystery the Jaguars would be selecting Lawrence.
In 8 days, Lawrence will be a Jaguar. This has been a certainty since the Jaguars secured the top pick in December, and it is even more of a guarantee today than it was then.
Lawrence is 34-2 as a starter, having only lost in the College Football Playoffs (as a sophomore, to LSU in the Championship and as a junior to Ohio State in the semifinals). As a freshman, Lawrence defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide for the National Championship. In his career, Lawrence completed 66% of his passes for 10,098 yards (8.9 yards per attempt, 9.8 adjusted yards per attempt) for 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also rushed for 943 yards and 18 touchdowns. Meyer knows how special he is and that is why he will be the pick.
Round 1, No. 25 (via Los Angeles Rams): Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins
My OT3 for the 2021 NFL Draft class, my grade on Jenkins is right up there with what I had on Mekhi Becton last season. He is a mauler who wins with strength, power, and toughness, but he also has the athletic upside to be so much more. I would play him at tackle first since that position is more valuable than guard, and because he can also play left tackle, but I see him as a high-level starter at either guard or tackle. It seems unlikely that he slips to No. 25, but let's not act like other players haven't dropped further in the past. The draft is a truly random guessing game in terms of player draft order, so never say never.
Jenkins' role as a rookie would likely see him have to battle for a spot on the right side of the line, either challenging Jawaan at right tackle or A.J. Cann at right guard. Past 2021, he could either replace Taylor at right tackle if Taylor starts there in 2021 and struggles, or replace impending free agent guards Cann and Andrew Norwell. He would also give the Jaguars a talented in-house option at left tackle in case the Cam Robinson experiment fails in 2021. Offensive line isn't a major 2021 need, but Jenkins was the best player on the board here and adding him does a lot to support Trevor Lawrence moving forward.
You can view my entire assessment of Jenkins' skill set and his fit with the Jaguars here.
Round 2, No. 33: Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore
The Jaguars have an incredibly talented wide receiver room already with speed (DJ Chark), power (Laviska Shenault), size (Collin Johnson), and veteran savvy and route running (Marvin Jones). The only thing they are currently missing is a shifty slot receiver who can win in space and create an easy target for his quarterback. As a result, they get mocked Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore at the top of the second-round in this projection.
Moore is arguably the top pure slot receiver in this year's draft class. He has elite athleticism, a track record of production, and wins both downfield and underneath. His speed can threaten defenses vertically but he also has the agility and comfortability in space to be used as a gadget player of sorts. He just seems like the type of receiver Urban Meyer would love to add to the offense. While his rookie numbers may not be eye-popping, he would give the Jaguars a truly well-rounded and balanced receiver room from the jump.
You can view my entire assessment of Moore's skill set and his fit with the Jaguars here.
Round 2, No. 45 (via Minnesota Vikings): Washington CB/S Elijah Molden
Much like the Jaguars don't have a true slot receiver, they don't exactly have a true slot cornerback. They have various options, and Tre Herndon did flash a ton of positive things in the role in 2020, but this is one position in the secondary they could definitely look to add to if they want to round out the unit. And while there are countless options throughout the draft to find one, we opted to go with best player available at No. 45 and take one early in Washington's Elijah Molden
Elijah Molden doesn't have a ton of appeal in terms of size or timed athleticism, but he is a tough and instinctual defender who bullies receivers in the passing and running games. He is never out of position and even has some safety versatility. Overall he would give the Jaguars a moveable chess piece who can do the dirty work for the secondary, which is worth the No. 45 overall pick.
Round 3, No. 65: Boston College TE Hunter Long
This is a slight reach, but it is one that feels necessary to make. Hunter Long won't fix the Jaguars' issues in terms of their lack of a true athletic pass-catching tight end, but he is a solid in-line option with the athletic testing (8.59 RAS) to indicate he has a higher ceiling than one may expect when watching him. Plus, it isn't like Long can't catch -- he has caught 85 passes for 1,194 yards and seven touchdowns in the last two seasons.
Overall, he is tough, wins at the catch point, and is a proven red-zone threat. He wouldn't give the Jaguars much juice on offense, but he would give them a young tight end with a high floor who should be able to make contributions in both the running and passing game for years to come. Plus, he played for long-time Meyer assistant Steve Addazio so the Jaguars should have plenty of information on him.
Round 4, No. 106: Ohio State IOL Josh Myers
This just seems like an inevitable pick for the Jaguars at some point, and perhaps even at No. 65 instead of No. 106. Josh Myers is a former mega-recruit from Urban Meyer's final years at Ohio State, and he is a smart, well-built lineman who can play either center or guard at the next level. He was a team captain for Ohio State and generally well-regarded in the program, so it wouldn't be a shock to see the Jaguars add one of Meyer's former players here.
In terms of need, the Jaguars have serviceable starters at guard with Andrew Norwell and A.J. Cann, while center Brandon Linder is the best player on the line. With this in mind, both Norwell and Cann are entering contract years and Linder has two years on his deal remaining. Depth is needed up front and Myers fits.
Round 4, No. 130 (via Los Angeles Rams): Louisiana Tech DL Milton Williams
This is a pure upside pick. Milton Williams didn't have much production at Louisiana Tech (19 tackles for loss, 10 sacks in 30 games) but he is an elite athlete at the defensive tackle position with a 9.94 RAS. Roy Robertson-Harris is currently the only truly explosive defensive tackle the Jaguars have, but even he doesn't have the pure dynamic athleticism that Williams has. Like Robertson-Harris, Williams also has three-technique/five-technique versatility.
Round 5, No. 145: Michigan RB Chris Evans
Essentially a wide receiver at the running back position, Chris Evans would provide the Jaguars with a skill set they otherwise don't have at the running back position. He did a great job of utilizing angle and swing routes, showing great speed and creativity after the catch. He caught 49 passes for 479 yards (9.8 yards per catch) and two touchdowns during his college career and then had an elite day of athletic testing at his pro day (9.85 RAS).
Round 5, No. 170 (via Cleveland Browns): Baylor EDGE William Bradley-King
Another top-shelf athlete (9.18 RAS), William Bradley-King projects as a depth 3-4 outside linebacker. He recorded 19 sacks, 30.5 tackles for loss, and seven forced fumbles during his time in college so he brings a degree of production with him as well. While Bradley-King doesn't play like the most twitched-up edge defender, his long arms and powerful punch make him a logical fit for the Jaguars' front seven.
Round 7, No. 249 (via Tennessee Titans): Pittsburgh S Paris Ford
Poor workout numbers (1.03 RAS) will drop Paris Ford but he is just two seasons removed from a year in which he was named First-Team All-ACC after leading Pittsburgh's defense in tackles and interceptions. It is a gamble here because his workout numbers are enough to potentially even knock him out of the draft, but his cornerback/safety versatility and toughness should make him a decent fit for the Jaguars.