The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft isn't until another 183 days (as of this writing), but for a number of teams in the NFL the 2020 season is already essentially over.
Crazier things have happened, but as of today, the Jaguars are one of those teams, at least until they start winning again. At 1-6, the Jaguars have the league's worst defense, have allowed 30 points or more in every game but Week 1 and continue to look like a team that has a brighter future than they do a present.
With that in mind, we have opted to do our first 2020 NFL Mock Draft, no matter how early it is in the process. To get the exact pick order for the draft, we are using Tankathon, which projects the draft order by using both current record and season-long strength of schedule.
So with all of that said, here is our first mock draft for the 2021 NFL Draft -- covering just the first three rounds. As the year progresses, the mock drafts will include more and more picks.
Round 1, No. 3 Overall: Ohio State QB Justin Fields
This one is obvious. Trevor Lawrence would go the Jets at No. 1 overall to the New York Jets in this scenario while the New York Giants would likely select Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell unless they are prepared to give up on Daniel Jones. If the board fell like this, the Jaguars should sprint to the podium to turn in the pick with Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields' name on it.
While Gardner Minshew II is a quality quarterback who is far from the biggest issue on the team, it is becoming increasingly clear that he isn't the franchise passer the Jaguars were hoping he could be. Fields has the arm, size, athleticism and ability to throw from the pocket against pressure that Minshew simply does not possess, leading to Jacksonville taking a legitimate quarterback of the future in Fields, who dazzled in his 2020 debut. Take Fields and build around him while having Minshew as a top-tier backup for two seasons, at least. Does that sound so bad?
Round 1, No. 23 Overall (via Rams): Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley
Jacksonville may have a legitimate second cornerback in former second-round pick Sidney Jones, but as of today that is still far from a sure thing. Jones has the next nine games to audition for the role, but it would be logical for the Jaguars to opt to add a cornerback in the first round for the second year in a row considering Jacksonville's defensive issues. No secondary has been torched by opposing passing games as much as Jacksonville's this season, in large part because every player in the secondary other than Jarrod Wilson, and perhaps Jones, has been beaten on a regular basis.
In two seasons in Virginia Tech's secondary, Farley recorded six interceptions, 23 pass deflections, 56 tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and one defensive touchdown. He earned All-ACC honors in 2019 after a four-interception season, and his stock was only looking to continue to rise entering this fall before he opted out.
Round 2, No. 34 Overall: Oregon S Jevon Holland
Jarrod Wilson and Andrew Wingard have genuinely had good seasons, but the strong safety spot is another issue altogether. Jacksonville's decision to trade Ronnie Harrison has blown up in their faces, with Josh Jones failing to make much of a positive impact at strong safety aside from his ability to bring down ball carriers near the line of scrimmage. In coverage this season, Jones has allowed a 90% completion rate for 254 yards (12.7 yards per target) and two touchdowns, giving quarterbacks a 152.1 passer rating when targeting him.
To replace Jones, we gave the Jaguars Oregon safety Jevon Holland, their second defensive back chosen in the first three picks. At 6-foot-1 and 200-pounds, Holland has the frame and size to play either safety spot. But even more importantly, Holland has proven that he is a legitimate playmaker with the ball in the air, recording nine interceptions, one pick-six and 10 pass deflections over the last two seasons. Jacksonville needs a new young safety to hold down the backend of the defense, and there is no better option available than Holland.
Round 2, No. 38 Overall (via Vikings): Pitt DT Jaylen Twyman
Jacksonville's defensive tackles have combined for 0.5 sacks and five tackles for loss this season, so it is pretty clear the Jaguars need to do something to improve their interior disruption. Taven Bryan is a certified draft bust at this point, failing to take the third-year leap the Jaguars were confident that they would see from him. DaVon Hamilton is a good young player at nose tackle, but Jacksonville needs an athletic interior defender in the mold of Malik Jackson to help improve the third-down defense. With that in mind, enter Pitt defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman.
Last year, Twyman started all 13 games, recording 41 tackles and 10.5 sacks and being named First-Team All-ACC. He likely projects best as a penetrating three-technique due to his size (6-foot-2, 290-pounds) and explosive first step, and he was the first interior player to ever lead Pitt's defense in sacks since Aaron Donald did so in 2013. He opted out of this season, but he has all of the traits the Jaguars are currently missing at defensive tackle.
Round 3, No. 69 Overall: Tulane DE Patrick Johnson
Another pick with the purpose of improving Jacksonville's pass rush, this pick is submitted in hopes of providing better edge depth, as well as some insurance for a struggling K'Lavon Chaisson. Chaisson, the No. 20 overall pick in last year's draft, has recorded just one sack and seven pressures as a rookie, consistently having issues at beating blocks. With Chaisson one of only three players the Jaguars currently have rushing off of the edge, and with one of those players in a contract season (Dawuane Smoot), the Jaguars would be wise to add a defensive end early.
While Johnson may not have the physical traits to go round one, he plays like his hair is on fire and is constantly terrorizing quarterbacks and offensive lines with his physical and high-effort brand of football. He has recorded 17 sacks, 28 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles over the last 2 1/2 seasons, the kind of production you would want to see from a small school pass-rusher. While Johnson may not be a starter from the jump, he would instantly give the team better pass-rush depth while also giving them a backup option in the event Chaisson doesn't take a year two leap.