2021 NFL Draft: Early Mock Suggests Jaguars Should Continue a Recent Pattern

Few teams invest more first-round capital into the defensive line than the Jaguars. Should that continue?
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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. 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.

If there is anything you can label as certainties the last several years, it is these three things: death, taxes, and the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting a defensive lineman in the first round. 

The Jaguars have made beefing up their defensive line quite the pattern over the last several years, picking a defensive lineman in the first round in each of the last three drafts. 

Few teams invest in their defensive line quite like the Jaguars have. Taven Bryan was picked No. 29 overall in 2018 to provide the Jaguars with a long-term presence at three-technique. Josh Allen was picked No. 7 overall in 2019 and became the first rookie Pro Bowler in team history. And most recently, the Jaguars selected defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson with the No. 20 overall pick in 2020, making him the fourth defensive lineman drafted last April. 

But is this a pattern that should continue? Considering recent results, there is little question the Jaguars should at the very least consider it. But what would one of those scenarios look like?

In our latest effort to examine what outside projections for the Jaguars are in the 2021 NFL Draft, we turn to an early first-round mock from CBS Sports and Josh Edwards. In it, Edwards paints a picture of what a Jaguars' first-round with yet another defensive lineman could look like. Below are his picks and what we make of their fits. 

No. 2 overall: Ohio State QB Justin Fields

Things are a bit different for Justin Fields since the last time we discussed him in this space. He is still on track to be a top-3 selection, obviously, but he is fresh off the worst game of his collegiate career in terms of turnovers. One game doesn't change anything for Fields, or any other player, but it does provide more chances to weigh his strengths against his flaws. 

Ohio State hasn't played since Nov. 21 win over Indiana, but Fields will have to show he can rebound from a bad performance the next time he gets a chance. Fields completed 18-of-30 passes (60%) for 300 yards, along with two touchdowns and a career-high three interceptions. He also added a rushing touchdown, his third of the year.

While Fields did enough to lead the Buckeyes' offense to several touchdowns, the game was still one that featured rare mistakes from the young passer. Prior to that game, he had thrown only three interceptions in his entire college career, so he matched that figure in just one game. For anyone calling him a turnover-prone quarterback, it is worth considering five of these interceptions have come in two games. He has had two games with turnover issues, but it has not been a constant.

No. 26: Alabama DL Christian Barmore

If the Jaguars are going to repeat their pattern of building the defensive line via first round picks then a pick like Christian Barmore makes a ton of sense. There would be some obvious trepidation about investing a first-round pick into the defensive line for the fourth year in a row considering Bryan has more or less turned into a bust, Allen has dealt with injuries in 2020, and Chaisson has yet to flash much.

But successful teams do not let yesterday's issues impact tomorrow's solutions. The Jaguars should learn from past mistakes, specifically the Bryan failure, but it doesn't erase the fact they still need to build their line. 

The Jaguars have two good building blocks up front in Allen and 2020 third-round pick DaVon Hamilton. The rest of the unit is either in wait-and-see mode or are just not bonafide long-term pieces. Bryan is the latter, and it is clear the Jaguars will have to add a defensive tackle this offseason to attempt to fill the disruptive role the Jaguars were always hoping Bryan would occupy.

The Jaguars would do just that in Christian Barmore. The sophomore defensive tackle didn't play much in 2019, serving as a rotational backup, but his talent popped off the screen. He collected two sacks and six tackles for loss in that role, being named by conference coaches to the Freshman All-SEC team.

Barmore's numbers haven't taken a giant jump this year, with him recording just two sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble thus far. But he has the size and the natural athleticism that is worth betting on in the late first. While this summary may remind people of Bryan, Barmore has already shown a much more advanced understanding of blocking concepts than Bryan ever showed as a prospect or even in the pros. 

Whether the Jaguars should use another first round pick on the defensive line will be debated until April. The Jaguars are last in the NFL in sacks and the pass rush in the middle of the defense has been particularly porous. If the Jaguars are going to fix their defense in 2021, they may just have to repeat this old pattern. 

For the rest of the mock draft, click here.