In a few short weeks, the wait will be over. The 2021 NFL Draft will be here and the Jacksonville Jaguars will kick off the spectacle for the first time in franchise history.
Following the worst season in franchise history and 15 consecutive losses, the Jaguars are looking to make a splash to turn around one of the NFL's more stagnant franchises. The Jaguars are equipped with 10 draft picks to fuel that turnaround, including the No. 1 overall pick.
But where do the Jaguars need to improve? Who needs to be replaced? To answer these questions and more, we are taking a look at what each Jaguars position group looks like entering the final month before the draft.
In this edition, we look at the offensive tackle room and determine what the state of the position means for the Jaguars' draft plans moving forward.
On the roster: Cam Robinson, Jawaan Taylor, Will Richardson Jr., Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms, Derwin Gray, Garrett McGhin
Jacksonville's current group of offensive tackles features three players with starting experience: left tackle Cam Robinson (50 career starts including postseason), right tackle Jawaan Taylor (32 career starts), and swing tackle Will Richardson (two starts).
Few positions on the Jaguars' roster faced as many question marks entering the 2021 offseason as offensive tackle, especially left tackle. The Jaguars have answered some present-day questions, but the future is still murky for the position group.
Jacksonville's biggest decision of the offseason thus far was deciding to franchise tag Robinson in March. Robinson has multiple years of starting experience and will only be 25-years-old in Week 1, but he doesn't have the tape of one of the NFL's highest-paid tackles -- which he now is. Robinson was third in the NFL in blown blocks last season per Sports Info Solutions in 2020 and has to still prove he can be at least a consistently average left tackle. The Jaguars are making a big bet on him, but the bet is a result of a weak offensive tackle market that the Jaguars didn't want to navigate.
"Coach Warhop feels very strong about his future and the development. We realize he has a great future. His ceiling is very high," Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said about Robinson following placing the franchise tag on the veteran tackle.
"We feel that the way this free agency is moving is that the left tackle position, as always but even more now this year from hearing from the guys who have been in the NFL, this a tough year for that left tackle position. We feel like with what’s just out there and with coaching, culture, and development, Cam [Robinson] has a lot of talent.”
Taylor has started every game at right tackle since the Jaguars made him the No. 35 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Taylor had a stellar rookie season considering his youth and the fact he was thrown to the wolves as a rookie right tackle, but he failed to take a step forward in 2020.
While Robinson was third in blown blocks according to Sports Info Solutions, Taylor was first. The Jaguars didn't make things easy on him with their blocking scheme or lack of a consistent navigator of the pocket at quarterback, but Taylor lost reps far too often in 2020.
Richardson has had a bit of a revolving door in terms of responsibilities since drafted. He started as a right tackle, moved to guard in 2019's training camp, then had to play left tackle to start the 2019 season. He moved to left tackle full-time for the 2020 season and was the team's swing tackle for each game, though his snaps were limited. He is heading into his contract year as Jacksonville's No. 3 offensive tackle.
Offseason additions: N/A.
The Jaguars didn't technically make any additions at this position yet because Robinson started 16 games last season and is more of a continuation than an addition. With that said, the fact the Jaguars have yet to add a single player at offensive tackle says a lot about how they view the position. A big part of this confidence could potentially hinge on offensive line coach George Warhop, who has coached the line for the last two seasons and was retained by Meyer.
The veteran left tackle market was limited in free agency from the start. The only true high-quality option was Trent Williams, but Williams ended up re-signing with the San Francisco 49ers as opposed to changing teams in free agency. With Williams and the Jaguars never really being a logical pairing, the Jaguars had to ask themselves if they liked Robinson and Taylor more than any of the veterans on the market. The answer was an emphatic "yes", with the Jaguars now only having the draft to make a major move at the position.
Offseason subtractions: N/A.
Just as the Jaguars didn't make any additions to the offensive tackle position, they also didn't make any subtractions. Robinson was the only player who was in question in this regard as well considering his rookie contract expired following the conclusion of the 2020 season. The Jaguars opted to give Robinson the significant investment that is the franchise tag, leading to the Jaguars losing zero players from their offensive tackle room.
The Jaguars should have more movement at the position moving forward, however. Richardson is entering his contract season, while Robinson's franchise tag means he is only guaranteed to be on the roster in 2021 -- unless the Jaguars work out a multiple-year extension with him before the 2021 season begins.
Biggest question facing position before the draft: How much competition do the Jaguars want to bring in for Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor?
The biggest question the Jaguars have to ask at offensive tackle is how much they want to provide insurance and competition for the position right away. Robinson is entrenched as the starter in 2021 -- or at least should be considering the price tag. But do the Jaguars want to push him in training camp as opposed to just handing him the job for his fifth season?
Then there is Taylor. Taylor has potential and showed a lot of ability as a rookie, but the jury is still out on whether he can be a long-term starter at right tackle. If the Jaguars were to pick an offensive tackle early to compete with Taylor, would anyone really turn their noses up at the move? Taylor is gifted, but he hasn't yet done enough to earn the kind of confidence that would eliminate adding competition.
Draft prospects who fit: Teven Jenkins, Samuel Cosmi, D'Ante Smith, Walker Little, Brady Christensen, James Hudson
The Jaguars are unlikely to be able to draft Rashawn Slater or Christian Darrisaw, so Teven Jenkins and Samuel Cosmi are likely set to be the top offensive tackles in the Jaguars' range of picks.
From our breakdown of Jenkins' skill set and fit with the Jaguars: "With so many questions at each offensive line spot past 2021, it is reasonable to project Jenkins to be a Jaguars target if he makes it to No. 25. He fits Jaguars offensive line coach George Warhop's type at offensive tackle and is one of the more talented players in the class, even if he wins reps in a non-traditional way."
After those players, the Jaguars would have to look at a number of developmental types. ECU's D'Ante Smith has natural movement ability and the ceiling of a starting left tackle, while Brady Christensen was the best player on one of the nation's best offensive lines in 2020.