2021 NFL Draft: Which Prospects Have Experience With the Jaguars' Staff?

The Jacksonville Jaguars are preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft in an offseason that allows little evaluation. Instead, the staff can rely on their experience and history with certain prospects. Who are they, how are they connected and do they fit? We examine them here.
Author:
Publish date:

There are just over six weeks till the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise begins a new era. Holding the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft can be a heady responsibility…except in a year when there’s as sure of a sure thing as there will be in Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

But the Jaguars have 10 picks total, giving the club enough draft capital (coupled with cap space) to change the look of the Jags moving forward. So what do they do with the other 10? Mock drafts will guess and rumors will abound for the next month and a half. The truth is no one knows. That’s the case every year in the draft. Yet in an offseason that allowed little to no in-person interaction and limited evaluation, those unknowns are multiplied.

Head Coach Urban Meyer told reporters last week there are tactics he and the staff can rely on to gain insight into each prospect. For one, they’re sending out playbooks.

“We have done that, and you are allowed to do that and not just the quarterback position, but we’re going to do that with other positions. That’s essential to find out, first of all, what’s your starting point of the football acumen and then how are they at learning.”

A prospect's ability to grasp a playbook can only tell you so much though. There are also character evaluations, work ethic judgments, and general off-the-field appraisals. Those things are crucial to player profiles. Losing that aspect of the process is admittedly worrying Meyer.

“You’re talking about organizational decisions made by people there’s chances we have not spent much time with them, and to be honest with you, I don’t feel great about that. I feel great about the coaches that have done their work behind the scenes digging up or else have had previous experience with them coaching them in the room. We’re probably going to lean on [them] more in that scenario.”

We’ve already discussed notable free agents that have ties to the current Jaguars staff; that can be read here. In the draft, there are notable prospects as well with ties to those already in Duval. We’ve assembled a list below. For conciseness sake, we are only looking at prospects who received an invitation to the 2021 NFL Combine. Coaches in college analyst roles weren’t considered.

Ohio State Guard Wyatt Davis

Connection: Was recruited and coached by Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Does He Fit: Davis is exclusively a guard. Given the Jaguars has resigned Andrew Norwell (left guard) and Tyler Shatley (who played guard and center last season), there isn’t a huge need. Davis has issues to polish—such as moving to his second blocks and redirection—but the unanimous All-American is still a potential year one starter. The Jaguars have bigger areas of need.

Ohio State Outside Linebacker Pete Werner

Connection: Was recruited and coached by Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Does He Fit: The Buckeye’s originally had Werner as a SAM linebacker during Meyer’s last season in Columbus. As Werner grew, so did his role, becoming a more versatile and every-down player. But as The Draft Network points out, his best fit is outside as a SAM LB. Werner is a late-round guy who has a chance to make the 53-man roster or at least the practice squad. His background with Meyer makes Jacksonville a possibility to give him that chance.

Ohio State Cornerback Shaun Wade

Connection: Was recruited and coached by Urban Meyer at Ohio State. Is also a Jacksonville native.

Does He Fit: Shaun Wade is exactly the kind of prospect the past regime would draft; someone with ties to the area and a high floor but a project to find his ceiling. He was named a first-team Associated Press All-American and the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year in 2020 thanks to 35 tackles, two interceptions, one returned for a score, four pass breakups in eight games, seven starts. He’s played as both nickel and safety but has seen up’s and down’s. He’s a name for the DB board, albeit one farther down the list.

Ohio State Inside Linebacker Baron Browning

Connection: Was recruited and coached by Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Does He Fit: Browning has all of the physical aspects of a dynamic linebacker at the next level…and none of the consistency to make a club confident in his future. Meyer’s history with Browning though could help if the coach feels he already knows what it’ll take to make Browning pull his game together. However without knowing for sure what the Jags will run defensively, it’s hard to say if Browning—a WILL who can blitz off the edge—is a right fit.

Ohio State Center Josh Myers

Connection: Was recruited and coached by Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Does He Fit: Frankly…no. This isn’t to say Myers won’t fit for another team. He’s a big-bodied center who’s an excellent run blocker. He has trouble protecting the edge, however, something that will be necessary as the Jaguars shift to a more spread offense under Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence. Additionally, Myers has worked in college as a center. He hasn’t exclusively played guard since high school. The Jags aren’t hurting at center, and Myers doesn’t provide enough versatility to make him viable.

Ohio State Defensive Tackle Tommy Togiai

Connection: Was recruited and coached by Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Does He Fit: Togiai only has one real year of production and COVID-19 kept him from playing in the National Championship game but he finished 2020 with 23 tackles, 4.5 for loss, with three sacks, two pass breakups. What he has shown proves he could be a fit in this defense. He’s stronger against the run and therefore an early-down lineman. The Jaguars have signed a bevy of linemen in free agency, but Togiai could still fit as a rotational guy.

Ohio State Defensive End Jonathon Cooper

Connection: Was recruited and coached by Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Does He Fit: Yes, Cooper is a fit. He’s a dynamic pass rusher with the ability to be a hybrid end/linebacker which will help him slide right into the expected defensive change under Joe Cullen. Cooper still has work to do against the run but has the potential to develop that aspect of his game.

Ohio State Inside Linebacker Tuf Borland

Connection: Was recruited and coached by Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Does He Fit: Ehh…not necessarily. Borland is a pure middle linebacker who can stalk the middle of the field but you won’t find him often going sideline-to-sideline. He needs protection up front and can be effective at the point of attack. The Jags are set at MIKE with Joe Schobert who has the added benefit of being able to play laterally. Borland doesn’t bring enough to the table for Jacksonville.

Ohio State Tight End Luke Farrell

Connection: Was recruited and coached by Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Does He Fit: No. He’s a blocking tight end who never really factored into the passing game. The Jaguars filled that role already. They need someone who can help expand the field.

Ohio State Inside Linebacker Justin Hilliard

Connection: Was recruited and coached by Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Does He Fit: Hilliard could fit with the Jags in much the same way he did Ohio State; quality special teamer and emergency linebacker. He’s played in a 4-3 SAM role and under Meyer, so as such, we could see him being signed as a UDFA or taken late Day 3 and becoming a practice squad player with potential for in-season elevation.

Texas Quarterback Sam Ehlinger

Connection: Was recruited by Jaguars Assistant Head Coach Charlie Strong to Texas (as Longhorns head coach)

Does He Fit: Considering the Jaguars are going to draft a quarterback at No. 1 overall and the backup will ideally have NFL experience…the Sam Ehlinger experience (and it would be an experience) won’t be coming to Jacksonville.

Texas Defensive Tackle Ta'Quon [TQ] Graham

Connection: Was recruited by Charlie Strong to Texas. Was coached at Texas by Jaguars defensive back and safeties coach Chris Ash (Longhorns defensive coordinator)

Does He Fit: Graham’s primary strength is longevity, having started half of his games as a Texan Longhorn. But he relies primarily on his physical strength versus technique. Furthermore, he’s an interior lineman who’d provide little more than depth, in a unit that’s loaded after free agency.

Texas Defensive End Joseph Ossai

Connection: Was coached at Texas by Chris Ash.

Does He Fit: Yes he fits and could be a fun early-round option. Coaches tooled with Ossai, moving him around from defensive end to linebacker, the type of hybrid BUCK/LEO/JACK (whatever lexicon you use) that is crucial in the defense Cullen is purported to be running this fall. What makes Ossai even more exciting—and also a high-risk, high reward prospect—is that he’s only played linebacker one season. His ceiling is unknown…but that means it could be even higher than anyone knows. If Ash saw enough at Texas to trust Ossai’s foundation, he could be an interesting project for the Jags.

Texas Safety Caden Sterns

Connection: Was coached at Texas by Chris Ash.

Does He Fit: The question isn’t so much if Sterns fits scheme-wise, but production-wise. He had 52 tackles, 1.5 for loss, one interception and three pass breakups in 2020, a decent playmaker on the ball. What will knock Sterns is his tackling. If Ash can argue Sterns would contribute on special teams to start then he could find himself signed on Day 3 or as a UDFA.

Penn State Tight End Pat Freiermuth

Connection: Was coached by Jaguars tight ends coach Tyler Bowen (PSU tight ends coach)

Does He Fit: While Freiermuth isn’t Kyle Pitts, he was a solid producer at Penn State, third on the team with 310 yards (77.5 per game) and one touchdown. At 6-4, 258, he’s a big body when you need hard yardage and he played in each receiver position with the Nittany Lions. Perhaps most importantly, the Jaguars tight end room is bare. At this point, any able body is a fit.

Alabama Defensive Tackle Christian Barmore

Connection: Jaguars defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi was the defensive coordinator at Alabama during Barmore’s recruitment. Lupoi wasn’t his primary recruiter however.

Does He Fit: Bamore is one of the more exciting defensive tackle prospects in a while. As a redshirt sophomore in 2020, Barmore was named third-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-SEC honors with 37 tackles, 9.5 for loss, with a team-high eight sacks, three pass breakups, and three forced fumbles in 12 starts. The Jaguars interior defensive line was anemic in 2020. A roadblock like Bamore would be a game-changer for the defense.

Alabama Linebacker Dylan Moses

Connection: Was recruited and coached by Tosh Lupoi at Alabama

Does He Fit: Moses, one of the most sought-after high school recruits in recent years, is an interesting prospect. He led the national champions with 80 tackles, 1.5 sacks and an interception. He has speed and a quick twitch and flies in like a heat-seeking missile, but isn’t the wrap-up road blocker that can knock back Derrick Henry. Could he be an outside SAM linebacker with the Jags? Possibly. Maybe even play behind Myles Jack, to whom Daniel Jeremiah compared him? Also possible. As the Jags shift defensive schemes though, we’re not sure if Moses is the best fit.

Alabama Corner Patrick Surtain II

Connection: Was recruited and coached by Tosh Lupoi at Alabama

Does He Fit: Surtain is a lockdown corner who can fit into any scheme, so yes, he’d fit with the Jaguars. However, the question becomes 1) do they need him between CJ Henderson and resigning Tre Herndon? And 2) would he even still be there at No. 25 when the Jags pick for the second time?

Texas Wide Receiver Brennan Eagles

Connection: While he played for Texas, Eagles was in a recruiting class that wasn’t heavily involved with then-head coach Charlie Strong. However, ironically enough, he was heavily recruited by Tosh Lupoi at Alabama.

Does He Fit: Meyer has made it clear the wide receiver room would need a shot in the arm. Given the relative youth of the room, it’s more likely the staff goes after experience. Eagles, with a sub 500-yard season, saw his yards per play number drop significantly against conference—and ergo quality—opponents in 2020. There isn’t enough explosiveness there. Plus, Collin Johnson already has the Texas receiver with the Jags spot locked up.

Players You Don’t Need To Ask About

These are players coming out of the schools listed above that fans are sure to ask about but don’t need to in relation to this topic because they weren’t heavily recruited or coached by any current members of the Jaguars coaching staff:

  • OSU quarterback Justin Fields
  • OSU running back Trey Sermon
  • Texas offensive tackle Sam Cosmi