Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer had several clear priorities when it came to rebuilding the 1-15 roster he inherited in January -- find a quarterback, build the trenches, and change the trajectory of the secondary.
He accomplished goal No. 1 by selecting generational quarterback prospect Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 overall. He accomplished goal No. 2 with a number of free agent and draft investments into both lines.
And goal No. 3, he accomplished thanks to a series of aggressive upgrades -- so many significant upgrades that Pro Football Focus has highlighted the Jaguars as one of the team's with the most upgraded secondaries in the NFL this offseason.
Two of the three teams the Jaguars follow drafted cornerbacks in the first-round, with Cleveland drafting Greg Newsome at No. 26 and Denver selecting Patrick Surtain II at No. 9. But other than that, there are few teams in the NFL that have added as much pure talent to their secondary as the Jaguars.
Combining the draft and free agency, the Jaguars have made the following additions at defensive back this offseason:
- Cornerback Shaquill Griffin (3-year/$44.5 million/$29 million guaranteed).
- Safety Rayshawn Jenkins (4-year/$35 million/$16 million guaranteed)
- Cornerback Tyson Campbell (No. 33 overall draft pick)
- Safety Andre Cisco (No. 65 overall draft pick)
- Safety Rudy Ford (2-year/$2.5 million/$600,000 guaranteed).
These players will join CJ Henderson, Sidney Jones, Daniel Thomas, and Tre Herndon in Jacksonville in 2021, but the combination of Griffin/Jenkins/Campbell/Cisco alone could give the Jaguars four potential new starters in 2021 and 2022.
But now, the Jaguars have to find out the best way to deploy their secondary. Griffin and Campbell both project best as outside cornerbacks, though Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer noted following the selection of Campbell at No. 33 that he thinks he has the flexibility to play inside.
“Oh yeah, that’s one of the reasons that we took him, but his flexibility — because you’re going to get your best players on the field and we’re going to be, if we can hold up, we’re going to play much more man coverage that hurt the Jaguars last year," Meyer said.
"That was an area of need, we didn’t play well in the back end of our defense and you’ve got Shaq [Shaquill Griffin], you’ve got Tyson and then you’ve got Ray [Rayshawn Jenkins] and the safety position is [Andre] Cisco to add to who we already have.”
Cisco suffered a season-ending ACL injury in September but the Jaguars envision him being available for the start of the season. If he is, he will give the Jaguars a playmaking presence at safety that they didn't have last year. The Jaguars opted to wait until No. 65 overall to pick a safety, passing on their choice of defenders at the position at both No. 25 and No. 33 overall.
"Well, I tell you what, he’s a guy we just all fell in love with. Before that injury, he’s — I had Malik Hooker at Ohio State — and he’s the best overlap player I thought in the draft. We used to call Reggie Nelson the eraser, he makes a lot of things right. Best ball skills we felt in the back end of the draft. We had a couple incredible Zoom calls with him," Meyer said.
"Great background, great character and if he wasn’t injured, I think that was a value pick. We’re real pleased with that.”