2021 NFL Draft: Recent Mock Projects Protection for Jaguars' New QB

Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski has released a mock draft for 2021 that paints a reasonable picture for how the Jaguars should build around their next quarterback.
Author:
Publish date:

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. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, along with the Los Angeles Rams first-round pick as a result of the Jalen Ramsey trade. As of this writing, the Jaguars have 11 picks in the upcoming draft.

This week more than ever, it seems like a tide has changed on the quarterback front for the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

The question of who would lead the franchise on the field in 2021 was already a rampant question, but it has now been accelerated tenfold by the team's decision to start Mike Glennon over a healthy Gardner Minshew II against Minnesota in Week 13.

The fact that this came three days after the Jaguars fired longtime general manager Dave Caldwell only magnifies the interest in who the Jaguars will pick to be their next franchise triggerman. The Jaguars (1-10) are currently on track to hold the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, with the outside chance of the No. 1 pick if the New York Jets somehow win a game.

Pundits will debate which quarterback the Jaguars should select all the way up until draft night. From Justin Fields to Zach Wilson to Trey Lance, there are several options behind Trevor Lawrence that should excite the Jaguars. 

But while who the Jaguars pick at quarterback is clearly the most important decision the Jaguars will make this spring, and likely this entire decade, what is also of extreme importance is how the Jaguars build around that quarterback.

Jacksonville fans have already seen the errors of not properly building around a quarterback a few times in recent years, after all. To repeat that in 2021 would be unideal, to say the least.

Blaine Gabbert and Blake Bortles were the last two first-round quarterbacks the Jaguars selected and neither panned out. They were each below-average quarterbacks, but neither was placed in great situations. Gabbert played on some truly awful rosters while Bortles was, somehow, sacked 102 times in his first two seasons, an NFL record.

It might be a new front office this time around, but owner Shad Khan likely remembers well just how much Bortles struggled in his early years with the Jaguars. Parts of those struggles were on him, but part of them was also on the Jaguars for not fielding a solid team around him.

Hence, this brings me to the latest mock draft from Bleacher Report and Brent Sobleski. We encourage you to read the entire mock to see who Sobleski gives the Jaguars at No. 2 overall to be their newest franchise quarterback but for this article's purpose, we will be looking at his second pick for the Jaguars.

No. 25 (via Los Angeles Rams): Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins

Click the mock link to see why Sobleski thinks mocking Oklahoma State's Teven Jenkins is the right call, but here is why I think Sobleski was on point with his thinking.

The Jaguars will badly need to revamp their defense in 2021, and this mock does have them passing on talented defenders like Asante Samuel Jr. But the Jaguars have already poured plenty of first-round resources into their defense. Why not spend big on defense in free agency and then use the rest of your resources (two more second-round picks, for example) to bolster the defense. 

The last two times the Jaguars have picked offense in the first round was in 2014 (Bortles) and 2017 (Fournette). That is just two offensive players taken in the top round in the last seven drafts, and neither of those players is still on the team. In fact, neither of those players even justified their draft slots when they were on the team.

This is all the more reason for the Jaguars to finally place an emphasis on their offense and giving their new franchise quarterback all the help he needs. Whether this comes in the form of another weapon in a receiver (unlikely) or a tight end or in some protection up front is the question.

Sobleski opted to give Jacksonville's newest quarterback some more pass blockers on the edge, which is more than reasonable considering what we have seen in 2020. 

Jacksonville's offensive line has exceeded expectations this year, specifically as a run-blocking unit. But when the Jaguars are forced to drop back at a high volume, defensive lines have more or less been able to feast. 

The Jaguars have already allowed 51 sacks this season, fourth-most in the NFL. According to Football Outsiders, their adjusted sack rate % is 25th in the NFL. By most metrics, the pass blocking has been a step below the run blocking. And when it comes to building around the quarterback, it is clear a pass protector is of more importance.

So why Jenkins? He has experience at both tackle positions and even spent some time at right guard. He started 25 games from 2018-2019 before opting out of the 2020 season, but he was the definition of consistent for Oklahoma State at both left and right tackle.

Jacksonville's bigger need is set to be at offensive tackle and not along the interior. Andrew Norwell is having his best year as a Jaguar at left guard while center Brandon Linder and right guard A.J. Cann have turned in career seasons.

Fourth-year left tackle Cam Robinson is in a contract year and will be a free agent in March. Robinson had a terrific start to the season and has mostly kept up his strong play, but the Jaguars will have to debate whether he is worth the contract he is likely to demand on the open market. A comparable deal could be Dion Dawkins, who the Bills gave a four-year, $60 million deal with $34 million guaranteed. 

Then there is Jawaan Taylor. The 2019 second-round pick played terrific as a rookie but has taken a step back in 2020, allowing far too many pressures and sacks. He has been the weaker link on the line this year, which is surprising.

If the Jaguars would rather allocate their funds elsewhere and find a cheaper, and potentially better, option at left tackle, a player like Jenkins makes a lot of sense. If they want to keep Robinson and push Taylor, then Jenkins makes even more sense considering his background as a right tackle. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Jenkins didn't allow a sack in either of those seasons. Sure the Big 12 doesn't have elite defenses, but that is the kind of efficiency and dominance one wants to see in a first-round offensive tackle.

When the Jaguars select a franchise quarterback, they will have to amend their mistakes of the past and ensure he has the proper protection. Whether they should do that in round one will be debated, but this is a reasonable scenario.