No team got more out of their undrafted free agent class in 2020 than the Jacksonville Jaguars -- but can they do it again?
A year ago, the Jaguars found the biggest steal in the 2020 offseason by landing 1,000-yard rusher James Robinson in undrafted free agency, with Robinson then going on to start 14 games and ser numerous undrafted rookie offensive records. Aside from Robinson, the Jaguars also got plenty of impact from defensive tackle Doug Costin and Ben Ellefson became their No. 3 tight end rather quickly.
Does this year's Jaguars' undrafted class have a Robinson in it? It is unlikely considering how rare of an impact Robinson made as a rookie, but they still have an intriguing group of rookie free agents who could potentially make an impact in 2021. Who among the six players has the best chance to be a playmaker as a rookie? We review below.
1) CB D.J. Daniel
I am giving D.J. Daniel the nod here strictly because I think his length and physical play style will make him a favorite of the Jaguars' coaching staff and give him the best chance to make the Week 1 active roster. Daniel didn't test like even an average athlete at his pro day, but that wasn't his game at Georgia, either. He is a sound tackler who is willing to be physical with receivers, and his absurd length gives him the ability to impact passing windows in a way that many defensive backs can't.
Daniel measured with 33 3/8-inch arms and a wingspan of 80 1/2. According to MockDraftable, Daniel ranks in the 98th percentile among cornerbacks in wingspan and in the 96th percentile in arm length. The Jaguars have their top-three cornerback spots locked up with Shaquill Griffin, CJ Henderson, and Tyson Campbell, but the remaining depth spots behind them should be up for grabs, and Daniel makes more sense than some of the holdovers like Chris Claybrooks and Luq Barcoo.
2) WR Josh Imatorbhebhe
The top spot was a tough one to sort out. If the Jaguars didn't have an already crowded receiver room coupled with three intriguing rookie height/weight/speed prospects, Josh Imatorbhebhe likely takes the top spot. Still, I see a path for him to make an impact on special teams and as a niche role player on offense if he can win a position battle in training camp. He has a level of leaping ability that no other Jaguars receiver offers, making him a potential option in the red zone in very specific packages. The Jaguars have bigger and faster receivers than Imatorbhebhe on the roster, but there is a reason he has the NFL record for the vertical jump. That kind of ability to win with the ball in the air is rare.
A former four-star USC signee, Imatorbhebhe transferred to Illinois in 2019 and instantly started 11 games, leading the team in receptions with 33 catches for 634 yards (19.2 yards per catch) and nine touchdowns, giving him 26.32% of the team's passing yards and 47.37% of their touchdown receptions in his first year on campus. There are inconsistencies to his game, but he has shown before he can use his physical gifts to produce.
3) WR Tim Jones
The closest thing to a slot receiver the Jaguars have added this offseason, Tim Jones played mostly in the slot for Southern Miss. and was able to excel thanks to his strong hands, determination after the catch, and ability to accelerate and decelerate on a dime. As a result, Tim Jones has a better chance to make the Jaguars' roster and make an impact than several of the team's other undrafted rookies.
The reason Jones isn't within the top-2 is that like Imatorbhebhe, Jones will be walking into an extremely crowded receiver room that already has four spots more or less locked up (five if you count Jamal Agnew as a wide receiver). But unlike Imatorbhebhe, Jones doesn't quite have a standout trait to hang his hat on. He is a solid player who will likely make a splash in camp though, and he fits a position of need.
4) DL Kenny Randall
An intriguing interior pass-rushing option due to his athletic traits and past production, Kenny Randall is a Jaguars' priority free agent to watch since the Jaguars have very few established pass-rushers along the interior defensive line. Randall started 21 games for Charleston in 2018-2019, recording nine sacks, 30 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles in that span. He also was named both first- and second-team All-MEC and led the entire program in tackles for loss and sacks in 2019. The traits are ultimately there to develop.
With this in mind, the Jaguars have added quite a few bodies to the defensive line rotation this offseason. They re-signed Dawuane Smoot and Adam Gotsis, signed Roy Robertson-Harris and Jihad Ward, traded for Malcom Brown, and drafted Jay Tufele in the fourth-round at pick No. 106 overall. That doesn't even include former first-rounder Taven Bryan, unsung undrafted free agent contributor Doug Costin, or last year's third-round pick DaVon Hamilton. Randall has some interesting tools, but the Jaguars may just have too many bodies along the line for him to earn a spot in 2021.
5) CB Corey Straughter
This is a tough one to figure. In terms of the depth chart, it is easier for a rookie cornerback to make an impact than it is for a rookie receiver or defensive tackle, but Straughter may be on the outside looking in despite his production. Unlike Daniel, he doesn't have an SEC pedigree or noteworthy athletic traits to hang his hat on and make a name for himself.
According to ULM, Straughter allowed the nation's lowest completion percentage (28.6) in 2019 to go along with the lowest passer rating. He has a lot of skill, but his lack of athleticism could hinder his chances to make an impact in 2021. He just lacks a true calling card, which could make it hard for him to stand out in 2021.
6) LB Dylan Moses
It wouldn't surprise me at all if Dylan Moses becomes a steady contributor for the Jaguars a few years down the road. Injuries have set him back in a big way since he suffered a torn ACL leading up to the 2019 season, but he still has a lot of natural talent and produced for Alabama's National Championship defense in 2020. The Jaguars have several coaches on staff who know Moses (Charlie Strong, who will be his position coach, and Tosh Lupoi, who recruited him to Alabama), so he seems like a natural pick to stick on the roster.
With that said, Moses still has some blocking in his path to produce as a rookie. He underwent surgery during the offseason after playing with a torn meniscus last season, and ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported he will go on the Jaguars' NFI list to continue to rehab. And even if Moses was healthy, the Jaguars have three veteran linebackers with starting experience in Myles Jack, Joe Schobert, and Damien Wilson who would see snaps over Moses in 2021.