2021 NFL Draft: Mel Kiper Projects Two Popular Names to Jaguars

ESPN's Mel Kiper didn't have any surprises in store for the Jaguars in his latest mock draft, giving the team two of their most frequently mocked players in the process.
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While we continue to march through the 2020 season, we will take looks at mock drafts from throughout the football industry to reflect on what outside projections for the Jacksonville Jaguars look like.

The Jaguars currently hold the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, along with the Los Angeles Rams' first-round pick (No. 25) as a result of the Jalen Ramsey trade. As of this writing, the Jaguars have 11 picks in the upcoming draft.

We now know who will be leading the Jacksonville Jaguars on the sidelines and in the front office moving forward. Urban Meyer has been selected as head coach while Trent Baalke is the team's newest general manager. Now, the duo will have to navigate an immensely important offseason that features the Jaguars holding the draft's top selection.

How Meyer and Baalke shape the Jaguars' roster over the course of the offseason will be fascinating on all fronts. This of course means mock drafts and other projections for how the Jaguars move toward their future.

For every team other than the four still in the playoffs, attention has shifted toward the 2021 NFL Draft. This year's draft is set to be especially important for the Jaguars considering their 11 draft picks, which includes two picks in the first two rounds apiece.

To get an idea of what positions or which names could be options for the Jaguars in the first round, we take a look at some of the players selected for them in recent mock drafts from national analysts and sites. For each pick, our own analysis will be included.

In this edition, we analyze the latest first-round projections from ESPN's Mel Kiper. 

This is Kiper's second mock of this year's draft cycle, with him projecting Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (No. 1) and Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore (No. 25) to the Jaguars in his first crack at it. Who does he mock to Duval this time, however? We break down his picks here.

No. 1: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence

Kiper goes with the only real option for this pick. Trevor Lawrence has been the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick since he was a freshman at Clemson, and this hasn't changed in the slightest with the Jaguars holding the draft's top pick.

The Jaguars have arguably the largest need for a franchise quarterback of any team in the NFL, partially due to the fact the Jaguars have never had a bona fide star at the position. With Lawrence's blend of size, arm talent, play-making ability, and high-level processing skills, he is a genuinely great quarterback prospect who should elevate the Jaguars on and off the field from his first day in the building.

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. He isn't perfect, but there is a strong argument to make for him being the best quarterback prospect of the last decade. 

It isn't like the Jaguars haven't already evidently made contact with Lawrence, either. Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer was just yards away from Lawrence at his Pro Day at Clemson, speaking with Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney for the duration of the workout. 

Meyer spoke after Lawrence's throwing session about how impressed he was with Lawrence's decision to hold a Pro Day at all considering both his need for surgery on his non-throwing shoulder at the time, as well as his cemented place as the draft's top player.

"And I asked him, I said there's three choices you have -- number one is you can wait till March 11th Pro Day, but now you're getting your August and it's getting late. Because it's a five- to six-month injury. The second thing; you can not throw. He's probably a good enough player he could have said 'I'm not doing it', him and his agent. Or the third thing I said; why don't you just grab a ball and go throw for a little bit," Meyer told NFL Network's Jane Slater.

"I'd like to have our coordinator and passing game coordinator watch. They've never seen you. I've seen you. And he said 'let's go.' That was it. Next thing I know we talked to Woody and we're here at a pro day that they put together like that. That's a guy that loves football. That's a guy that's confident in his ability. And that was really impressive."

Lawrence to the Jaguars seems like a pairing that is all but official; as a result, don't expect anyone else to be the projected pick anytime soon. 

No. 25 (via the Los Angeles Rams): Alabama DT Christian Barmore

Kiper didn't diverge from his previous strategy for the Jaguars, once again giving them Alabama's Christian Barmore with their second first-round pick. Barmore has been a popular player mocked to the Jaguars since the season ended, in large part because of their massive hole at interior defensive line.

In 2020, Barmore recorded 9.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, and three forced fumbles, earning first-team All-SEC honors. He was named Defensive MVP of the National Championship after recording a sack and two tackles for loss. He entered the draft after his redshirt sophomore year, putting two seasons on tape for the Crimson Tide before taking advantage of a stellar end of the season that rocketed his draft stock into the late first-round.

In the SEC Championship, College Football Playoff Semifinal, and the National Championship, Barmore collected 15 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble -- nearly out-producing Jacksonville's entire defensive tackle room in terms of impact plays. 

Jacksonville's six primary defensive tackles last season — Doug Costin, Taven Bryan, Abry Jones, DaVon Hamilton, Daniel Ekuale, and Caraun Reid — combined for just 2.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss, and 13 quarterback hits. No defensive tackle had more than one sack, and only three of the six defensive tackles recorded at least half a sack. 

Simply put, the Jaguars don't currently have the pieces they need at defensive tackle to enter an NFL game and win in the trenches. Hamilton and Costin are good players who made impacts as run defenders, but that is about where the depth ends. Taven Bryan is a certified bust three years into his career, while Jones is a free agent. 

Barmore didn't have a great start to the 2020 season, and one is projecting a bit when it comes to how he translates to the NFL due to a general sense of inconsistency in his game. But his flashes are dominant, and the Jaguars aren't in any position to nitpick at defensive tackle. 

TCU's Trevon Moehrig had already been selected by the time the Jaguars were up to pick in this scenario. Players Kiper passed on include Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins, Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little, and Georgia edge defender Azeez Ojulari.