It is here -- the 2021 NFL Draft has arrived. The wait is over.
With the Jacksonville Jaguars set to hold the key to the top of this year's draft, there are countless storylines to track over the next three nights. The No. 1 pick is obvious, but what about the nine picks after?
To give an idea for which are the biggest storylines to follow, the Jaguar Report staff has huddled up to bring you our takes on this weekend's monumental NFL Draft.
What do you think a best-case scenario looks like at No. 25?
John: At this point in the process, a best-case scenario is hard to peg down because there are so many needs on the roster. With this in mind, I think an absolute best-case scenario is one of three players falling to No. 25: Christian Barmore, Teven Jenkins, and Azeez Ojulari, in that order.
Urban Meyer has preached about building up the Jaguars’ trenches and I get the feeling they still aren’t satisfied with what they currently have up front defensively -- and they shouldn’t be. They need more depth along the edge and they need a difference-maker in the middle. Meanwhile, Jenkins would be a rare starting-caliber left tackle who is available at No. 25. Jenkins can play both tackle spots as well as guard, so he has immense value to a Jaguars’ squad that would be entering a murky future along the offensive line due to several contracts expiring after the 2021 season.
Kassidy: The part of me that wants to see Urban Meyer’s offense click along like it did during his championship run at Florida wants this to be a slot receiver...but as Meyer himself has said multiple times the past few weeks, there is a difference in drafting purely the best players at positions of need versus value. And for so long, the best value here at 25 was safety Trevon Moehrig from TCU. But as other safeties have continued to impress during the draft season, I think they can get a better value here by going defensive line.
It’s not incredibly deep this draft, so to get a quality playmaker, the Jags will have to draft a guy high. Meyer has put a ton of emphasis on the defensive line and although they put their focus there in free agency, there are still pieces needed to shore up the unit. Finding a Christian Barmore or Jaelan Phillips here at 25 would be the best-case scenario.
Gus: Drafting a defensive lineman without having to reach. Based on comments made throughout the offseason by Meyer and co., the organization is still looking for upgrades at what they view as the most important position group on the team.
Baalke also prioritized the defensive line early in his drafts as San Francisco’s general manager, so the arrow seems to be pointing that way. The best-case scenario would be a stud defensive lineman or edge rusher prospect falling into Jacksonville’s welcoming arms, like in 2019 when Josh Allen dropped to the Jaguars at seventh overall.
Michael: A best-case scenario for this pick would be Christian Barmore out of Alabama being the only guy pegged to the Jaguars available. If guys like Kadarius Toney and Trevon Moehrig are off the board at that point the choice becomes extremely clear. It’s a bit of weird thinking, but it does change how the pick is viewed a bit.
If Toney is there at 25 and they decide to go in a different direction there will be that ‘what could have been’ with Toney and if he starts making plays like he did in college then his career will be tied to Barmore’s in Jacksonville whether it is fair or not and looked at in a not so gleaming light. The most ideal scenario for Jacksonville is their top guy for that pick being available and everybody else on their board for that pick being selected already.
What is your definition of a worst-case scenario at No. 25?
John: I have to think taking a project like Jayson Oweh is up there but due to the upside of Oweh as a prospect, I think there is a worse pick for the Jaguars to make at No. 25: running back.
The Jaguars can talk until they are blue in the face about wanting to add speed to every level of the offense, even in the backfield, but picking a running back at No. 25 overall with the current state of the Jaguars' roster in mind would be a ludicrous move. Running backs still hold immense value, but there isn't a running back in the class worth taking at No. 25, especially if you are the Jaguars. The Jaguars are fresh off a 1-15 season and actually have a good starter already in James Robinson. Who cares if he doesn't run a fast 40-yard dash at this point -- taking a running back at No. 25 would be a mistake of the highest order.
Kassidy: A quarterback. Just kidding. That’s not going to happen at 25.
As much as it pains me to say for all the reason’s listen above, the worst-case scenario here would be a slot receiver, primarily because I think there are enough that a dynamic slot guy will still be there on Day Two. Overdrafting is what puts teams behind the eight ball, which is where the Jaguars have spent years. They can’t afford to continue the trend.
Gus: Drafting a slot receiver.
Prospects like Kadarius Toney, Elijah Moore and Rondale Moore would certainly be an exciting boost to the offense, but that type of receiver may not be worth a first-round pick and especially for a team coming off a 1-15 season with plenty of roster spots to upgrade elsewhere. Laviska Shenault admittedly isn’t a true slot receiver, but his playmaking ability and the obvious talent of D.J. Chark and Marvin Jones shouldn’t be forgotten. The Jaguars can still add offensive weapons later in the draft while spending its earlier picks on other valuable positions of need.
Michael: The worst case has to be reaching for a guy that will need to develop over time.
Whether it is a slot receiving, edge rusher, or offensive tackle. The 25th pick is too valuable a piece to be used up on a guy not ready to make an impact from the jump. Example A: K’lavon Chaisson last season. He came on toward the end of the year, but for most of the season, he had little to no impact as the 20tg overall pick. At 25 you have to find a starter and one that will impact your team immediately.
Outside of drafting Trevor Lawrence, what do you think is a must for the Jaguars this week? Drafting a tight end high? Finding a slot receiver?
John: I think the Jaguars need to address the future of the offensive line. Yes, there are needs all over the defense, at tight end, and at the depth spots of receiver and running back, but few of these needs are as important in the long-term as the offensive line.
The Jaguars like their current offensive line, which is all well and good, but they have three starters in the final year of their contracts in left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, and right guard A.J. Cann. Center Brandon Linder and right tackle Jawaan Taylor, meanwhile, each have two years left on their deal. We have seen over and over again young quarterbacks have their early careers tarnished due to bad offensive lines -- the Jaguars can't allow that to happen in Jacksonville and the 2021 NFL Draft should play a big part.
Kassidy: For the love of all that’s good and holy, find Trevor Lawrence a tight end. Meyer’s offense is predicated on tight ends playing huge parts in the passing game and right now the Jaguars don’t have someone who can be that threat. Unless they trade away the farm, it’s highly unlikely Kyle Pitts becomes a Jaguar. But there are still other quality prospects at the position in this draft and they can be grabbed in a lower round yet still contribute right away. The tight end room is bare and addressing that issue will make all the difference in the world in Meyer’s offense this fall.
Gus: Securing a starting-caliber safety. There’s plenty of talent in this safety class, and the Jaguars have plenty of opportunities on Day 2 (if not 25th overall) to add a playmaker to its secondary. Cullen comes from a Baltimore defense that used three safety sets and dime packages among the most in the league, and Jacksonville needs more depth if it wants to run something similar. Leaving the draft without a top safety would be a major whiff for the Jaguars.
Michael: In my best Black Panther voice: “Get this man a tight end.” At this point, the tight end room looks so weak and if there is some scenario that could actually happen to move up in order to select Kyle Pitts, I would go for it because they are in such desperate need of a guy like him. It won’t happen, but man that would be fun to watch. If they don’t draft a tight end then I have to assume they traded for Zach Ertz from Philadelphia because if that doesn’t happen either then we may have to get John suited up to catch passes over the middle from Trevor Lawrence. If they have to spend the 33rd pick on Pat Friermuth out of Penn State then so be it. The need is that great.
The defensive line has been a major point of focus for Urban Meyer all offseason -- do you think they should invest in it within the first two rounds, or rely on their former top picks in Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson?
John: I do, but I am of the opinion that the needs along the edge and interior are roughly the same. The Jaguars can't afford to enter the 2021 season with their current group of pass-rushers set to be their only third-down defenders, even if Josh Allen, K'Lavon Chaisson, Roy Robertson-Harris, and Dawuane Smoot all have talent.
The Jaguars were one of the worst pass-rush units in the NFL in 2020 for a mix of reasons; injuries played a factor, but a lack of depth at both defensive line positions played an even bigger one. The Jaguars need a third edge to rotate with Allen and Chaisson or they risk being one injury away from their edge rush offering little to nothing. They also need a pass-rushing defensive tackle because for as talented as Robertson-Harris and Smoot are, the Jaguars are still missing a difference-maker on third-down from the interior.
Kassidy: I think they should invest in the interior defensive line in the first two rounds, which is why I mentioned it as a best case scenario at No. 25 overall.
However on the edge, I think if someone falls, then the Jags should grab him for quality depth. But if Allen and Chaisson are allowed to play in their more natural positions under Joe Cullen (something that wasn’t the case last season) then they’ll be fine, even if on the field for the majority of snaps. Adding Jihad Ward in free agency means there are other areas of greater concern.
Gus: I do think that the defensive line should be invested in, and I’d be shocked if the Jaguars don’t add to that group by the end of the second round. If D-line value falls at any point in the draft the Jaguars are likely to pounce, but I don’t think that not addressing the position before Day 3 would be a mistake. Jihad Ward and Joe-Giles Harris should let Jacksonville get by if they choose not to add competition for Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson.
Michael: Absolutely. Meyer said it himself. You can never have too many great defensive linemen. It is still a big position of need, especially on the interior. Meyer is looking for impact early from these first five selections. I think the 25th pick should be Christian Barmore, barring some crazy drop from somebody projected to go higher. Allen and Chaisson are great, but they are in specific edge roles now and the interior, while much improved through free agency, still needs help. In all honesty, Barmore will provide that, but if they want to draft another defensive lineman in say the fifth round, I think it would be a good move.