2021 NFL Draft: Zach Wilson and an Early 4-Round Jaguars Mock Draft

With the Jaguars sitting at 1-9, we examine a four-round projection of Jacksonville's 2021 NFL Draft. How do we think the Jaguars should build their team?
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Not much has changed since the last time we projected a way-too-early 2021 mock draft for the Jacksonville Jaguars, other than their record has only gotten worse and their grip on the No. 2 overall pick has strengthened. 

As of the time of this writing, the Jaguars are one of only two teams in the league with one or fewer wins this season. The only other team is the 0-10 New York Jets, who hold the honor of being the NFL's only winless NFL team.

With 156 days to go until the 2021 NFL Draft begins, there is clearly a lot that has to be sorted out over the coming months. But while we wait for that to happen, we can still mull over potential scenarios the Jaguars could find themselves in on April 29 and the days that follow. After all, the Jaguars have 11 picks to utilize. 

After we mocked three rounds previously, we are now going to look at the first four rounds of the draft. To maintain the point of the exercise, which is to provoke thought and look at all the potential scenarios that are out there, we will not be repeating any selections from the previous mock. 

With that said, here is our latest four-round 2021 NFL mock draft.

Round 1, No. 2 overall: BYU QB Zach Wilson

Previous pick: Ohio State QB Justin Fields

2020 stats: 176-237 (74.3% completion), 2,724 yards (11.5 yards per attempt, 13.3 adjusted yards per attempt). 26 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. 205.3 passing rating. 51 rushes for 191 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and 8 touchdowns. 

With Trevor Lawrence off the board to the New York Jets in this scenario, we opt to go with the breakout star of the 2020 college football season in BYU's Zach Wilson. Wilson clearly isn't a finished product and his level of competition is as low as any other top quarterback drafted since Josh Allen, but his physical tools, playmaking ability and instincts for the position are all off the charts. He makes throws at all levels of the field that many other quarterbacks don't have the arm strength or the accuracy to make, but he has shown in 2020 that he has little trouble at creating big plays through the air. 

Until the Jaguars figure out the quarterback position, they won't be able to take the next step as a team. They can try to field patchwork solutions on a year-to-year basis, as each of the last two seasons has seen, but a bonafide franchise quarterback is the biggest need on the team. The quarterback position may not be the biggest reason the Jaguars are 1-9 this year, but it is the biggest concern moving forward. Taking Wilson would alleviate that concern, giving them the type of playmaker and high-ceiling athlete at quarterback that they have avoided for the last several years.

Round 1, No. 29 overall (per Rams): Tennessee IOL Trey Smith

Previous pick: Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley

With A.J. Cann entering a contract year in 2021, and with Ben Bartch looking like he is far from being ready to step into a starting role, we opt to give Wilson some help up front. Jacksonville's offensive line has flashed at times and isn't as bad as the sack numbers indicate, but they don't really stand out in any area. Cann is a starting quality guard and Andrew Norwell is having his best season as a Jaguar, but some change is needed to see the Jaguars' offense and James Robinson take the next step from becoming a decent running game to an elite one. 

A natural mauler at guard, Trey Smith seems like an inevitable top-40 pick due to his massive frame and ability to manhandle defenders, much like Mekhi Becton last year. The 6-foot-6 senior has 38 starts at guard and has started for four seasons now, proving his mettle and value in the middle of Tennesee's defense. He may not be a game-changer, but he is a perfect investment to protect Wilson and enhance Robinson's impact. 

Round 2, No. 34 overall: Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth

Previous pick: Oregon S Jevon Holland

2020 stats: 23 receptions for 310 yards (13.5 yards per catch) and 1 touchdown.

Pat Freiermuth's production has slipped in a big way this season as Penn State has gotten off to the worst start to a season in program history, but it doesn't change his talent. In fact, this is likely a more accurate landing spot in terms of draft range for Freiermuth than the top-20 range many were projecting before the season. But while his 2020 numbers don't pop out, he combined for 69 receptions for 875 yards (12.9 yards per catch) and 15 touchdowns in the previous two seasons, displaying his ability to impact the passing game. 

Through 10 games, Jacksonville has one of the worst current outlooks of the tight end position and the future isn't much brighter. Tyler Eifert has looked like a shell of his former self for much of the season while James O'Shaughnessy's play has dipped a bit. Add in the fact that Josh Oliver has missed all but four games in the first 32 games of his career and that rookie Tyler Davis is No. 5 on the depth chart, and the need for a tight end is obvious. With the previous pick, we gave Wilson protection. Now, we give him a red-zone weapon.

Round 2, No. 43 overall (via Vikings): FSU CB Asante Samuel Jr.

Previous pick: Pitt DT Jaylen Twyman.

2020 stats: 30 tackles, 3 interceptions, six pass deflections, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and one sack.

The son of the former New England Patriots cornerback, Asante Samuel Jr. is one of the few bright spots on what is otherwise a dreadful FSU team. With Jacksonville badly needing to reinforce its cornerback depth after this season, Samuel is an obvious selection at this point in the draft if available due to his playmaking ability and his versatility in coverage.

CJ Henderson was developing at a solid pace until his groin injury landed him on injured reserve, and Sidney Jones has been the team's best cornerback this year, but they need more behind them. Josiah Scott and Luq Barcoo haven't gotten enough snaps to buy into their talents yet, while D.J. Hayden looks to be at the end of his Jaguars tenure and Chris Claybrooks is better off as a special teams ace and reserve corner. With Samuel having experience in the slot, he would give the Jaguars three talented cornerbacks that would allow them to play a variety of coverages.

Round 3, No. 66 overall: Georgia DL Jordan Davis

Previous pick: Tulane DE Patrick Johnson

2020 stats: 12 tackles.

Jordan Davis could go much higher than this, but we have heard that about countless defensive tackles over the years. Sometimes they just drop, and it seems like this could be the case for Davis this year as his sack and tackle for loss production have both slipped. Despite this, the 6-foot-6, 330-pound interior defender has still been plenty disruptive vs. both the run and the pass this season. 

Taven Bryan has been an unmitigated disaster at three-technique for the Jaguars and has lost his starting role to Doug Costin. While Davis may not be the up-field penetrator the Jaguars' defense is missing, he does have enough pass-rush upside to buy into the idea of him and DaVon Hamilton playing next to each other. The Jaguars' defensive line has struggled to make big plays this year and Davis could be a step toward the right direction in fixing that.  

Round 4, No. 98 overall: Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell

Kenneth Gainwell has no 2020 stats after opting out of the season but at this point that doesn't matter. The Memphis product put his full skill set on display in 2019, recording 2,069 yards from scrimmage (7.3 yards per touch) and 16 touchdowns, averaging over 12.0 yards per catch. He is an absolutely dynamic back who has the explosiveness to make an impact similar to ex-teammate Antonio Gibson.

James Robinson is obviously terrific and should be one of the building blocks of the offense, but even Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey have high-caliber backups. Robinson needs the Jaguars to find him a worthy change of pace back to ensure they don't ruin him by giving him a historically massive workload, while Gainwell would also give the Jaguars an explosive element that even Robinson doesn't present. Again, this is building talent around Wilson.

Round 4, No. 125 overall (via Rams): UAB EDGE Jordan Smith

2020 stats: 2.0 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss.

Jacksonville has just nine sacks in 10 games, with 3.5 of those coming from first-round defensive ends Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson. It is hard for the Jaguars to get after the quarterback when they have a secondary that is beaten as often and quickly as theirs, but some more depth and promise at edge defender is also needed. 

Jordan Smith's numbers have yet to match the stellar production he had in 2019 (8.0 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles), but he's experienced standing up on the edge and he has still been plenty disruptive this season. He has the physical tools to bank on as insurance for Chaisson.