After Trevor Lawrence, who will the Jaguars draft? Sports Reporter Mia O’Brien presents her second, seven-round mock draft for Jacksonville
We’re officially 24 days away from the 2021 NFL Draft and Trevor Lawrence’s arrival in Duval County.
With a little over three weeks to go, let’s dive right into Mia’s Mock Draft Monday 2.0. Sorry, Big Ten fans: this one has a bit more SEC and ACC bias than last week’s.
Round 1, Pick 1
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Water is wet. The sun is hot. Isn’t it fun to be a Jaguars fan while everyone else fights over whether or not Justin Fields is a hard-worker?
Round 1, Pick 25
Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
With Tyson Alualu no longer coming to Jacksonville, the Jaguars could still stand to beef up their defensive line. This is projected to be a historically weak draft at the defensive tackle position, so Jacksonville may have no choice but to select a DT early. Not that Barmore is any sort of consolation prize – plus, given how weak this class is expected to be, there’s a good chance he’s already gone at Pick 25.
Barmore checks a ton of boxes for Urban Meyer’s Jaguars. Speed (4.98, 40-yard dash). Versatility (can play either 1-tech or 3-tech). And, of course, bolstering the all-important, defensive line (6’5’’, 315 lbs). Barmore racked up 9.5 TFL and eight sacks in 2020, most of those numbers coming in the final four games of his season. He is young: after redshirting his first season in Tuscaloosa, he played in only 22 games in college. Barmore turns 22 in July. Many analysts say he is raw: NFL.com’s Chad Reuter notes Barmore’s “freestyle approach,” which can give away his positioning. Lest we forget, Quinnen Williams went third overall in the 2019 NFL Draft after playing just 24 collegiate games… at Alabama. It took Williams a whole year in the NFL before he truly broke out.
But if there was ever an athletic, ball of clay waiting to be molded, it’s Barmore.
Round 2, Pick 33
Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
I am sure some Jaguars fans still have PTSD from taking running back Leonard Fournette fourth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. “Never take a running back before Day Three of the Draft!” the pundits say seemingly every year.
Good thing Etienne is a lot more than a running back.
Look, I’m not breaking any news here: James Robinson saw 80-percent of the snaps at tailback in 2020. That’s not sustainable if he’s to be a cornerstone of this franchise. Pairing him with a pass-catching, third-down back is critical. Having both on cheap, rookie contracts helps. Last week, I had the Jaguars selecting Memphis’ Kenneth Gainwell in the fourth-round. That’s probably when they’ll pull the trigger on a tailback.
But if Etienne is here, he’d be tough to pass up. Because he can fill that RB2 void and slot receiver and dynamic, homerun threat. Not to mention, he’s already pretty tight with Trevor Lawrence.
In addition to becoming the ACC’s all-time leader in rushing yards, Etienne had 102 receptions and eight receiving touchdowns at Clemson. At 5’10’’, 210 lbs, he’s a match-up nightmare for linebackers in coverage. His high school team ran the Wing-T, so Etienne is just coming into his own as a pass catcher. Draft Network’s Joe Marino’s biggest knock on Etienne is his blocking (Reuter does as well). But just imagine two tailback-sets where James Robinson and Etienne can be on the field at the same time, with Etienne motioning out to fill that “gadget” player role that; meanwhile, so many fans are clamoring for the Jaguars to draft a running back AND a gadget player. Etienne would be incredible, 2-for-the-price-of-1 value.
Round 2, Pick 45
Landon Dickerson, OL, Alabama
Okay, so first there’s the Mac Jones Pro Day video, which was super fun (and not the first time Dickerson has done cartwheels on live television).
Second: like Barmore on the defensive line, Dickerson offers versatility. Between his time with the Crimson Tide and Florida State, he has played almost every position on the offensive line. He projects as a starting center or guard. Both the Jaguars starting guards are not under contract for 2022. Starting center Brandon Linder is not under contract for 2023. Dickerson could provide a gradual succession plan for any one of those three players. Dickerson is massive. He’s 6’6’’, 320-plus pounds. When healthy, he is an All-SEC performer, as he was in 2019, as well as the emotional leader of Alabama.
But then there is that injury history. Dickerson suffered three, significant injuries during his time in Tallahassee (ACL and ankle). He tore his ACL and suffered ligament damage in the SEC Championship Game this December. Scouts have praised his leadership despite those injuries, as he still suited up and warmed-up in the College Football Playoff this winter. Given the unknown timetable for his return, Dickerson would be the perfect candidate for a “redshirt rookie season,” while still offering a high-ceiling skill-set – not a fourth or fifth-round project – when he is able to hit the field.
If there was ever a successor to fun-loving, Brandon Linder, it’s this guy. But that’s the best part: even if the Jaguars are to re-sign Linder long-term (he is only 29), Dickerson could kick over to either guard position.
Round 3, Pick 65
Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
The Jaguars were the real winners when Jordan *only* ran a 4.66 40-yard dash at Miami’s Pro Day last week. While this year’s tight end class isn’t star-studded, Jordan is still projected among the Top-Five prospects at the position; however, slower Pro Day times could slide him to the third-round… where the Jaguars just so happen to have the first pick.
As it stands today, the Jaguars tight end room features 101 career catches and four touchdowns. 88 of those receptions and three of those touchdowns are courtesy of James O’Shaughnessy. The position group is just a bit of a hot mess.
Brevin Jordan had 105 career receptions and 13 touchdowns in three years of college himself. More importantly, his statistics improved each year he was in college. 287 yards receiving his freshman year. 495 yards the next. 576 his final season. Jordan averaged nine yards a catch his freshman year; he averaged 15.2 yards per catch his junior year (more on that in a second). Evidence of growth, not a one-year, break-out wonder, is critical for whoever the Jaguars draft at tight end.
Jordan is a yards-after-catch machine. He led all tight ends nationally with 353 yards after the catch in 2020. Miami lined him up in the backfield, inline, out wide and in the slot. Did I mention Jordan is 6’3’’, 247 lbs? He’s a fun chess piece, too.
Jordan was the No. 1 rated tight end in the Class of 2018; both Urban Meyer and defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi were involved in his recruitment. They both missed on Jordan in 2018. They don’t in 2021.
Round 4, Pick 106
Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia
No, he’s not Trevon Moehrig. But you cannot deny that LeCounte was one of the more consistent players in college football over the past four years (although you probably want to slap me upside-the-head for selecting two players coming off injury in this week’s Mock Draft).
LeCounte can line up at multiple positions in the secondary. He is a vocal leader and captain. He’s considered one of the smarter, football savvy players in this year’s draft class. He had 74 tackles as a sophomore. During his break-out, junior campaign, LeCounte tallied 61 tackles (4.5 TFL), four interceptions, three passes defended, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. Prior to a scary, motorcycle accident that cost him the second-half of his senior year, LeCounte had 26 tackles (one TFL), three interceptions, and four passes defended. That was in just five games. I repeat: three interceptions in five games. Joe Schobert picked off three passes… in 16 games in 2020. Tre Herndon picked off three passes.. in 16 games in 2019.
What LeCounte does guarantee teams is a four-phase, core special teamer. He’s especially strong in the kicking game. Urban Meyer has placed a heavy emphasis on special teams through the free agency period so far.
LeCounte did play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. The previous Jaguars regime placed an emphasis on Senior Bowl invitees; it is yet to be seen what this regime’s feelings are towards the annual showcase. LeCounte is from Hinesville, Georgia, just south of Savannah. There are connections to central-eastern Georgia on this Jaguars, staff, including tight ends coach Tyler Bowen (Helena, Georgia).
Round 4, Pick 130
Jonathon Cooper, EDGE, Ohio State
Another player who participated in the Senior Bowl, Cooper was recruited to Ohio State by (guess who) Urban Meyer. A native son of Ohio and lifelong Buckeyes fan, Cooper is not Chase Young, but he did succeed the former, No. 2 overall selection as the go-to pass rusher for the Buckeyes. In eight games, Cooper had 24 tackles (3.5 TFL) and 3.5 sacks. Those stats don’t jump off the page, but Cooper was coming off a high-ankle sprain that cost him his 2019 season. If Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson are to truly be Pass Rusher Number One and Number Two, the Jaguars won’t need the moon and the stars out of Cooper. He did play in a 4-3 scheme in college, so, if the Jaguars really are to turn to a 3-4, it may take Cooper a bit of time to adjust to a new position and scheme.
Cooper is a disciplined run defender (after ranking in the bottom fourth of the league in run defense the past two seasons, that’s a breathe of fresh air for Jacksonville). He’s a sure tackler. He’s not the athletic freak Chase Young or the Bosa brothers were (and are), but Cooper is a smart, well-coached player. And it appears he still admires his old coach: Cooper told The Spun in January he’d welcome a reunion with Meyer “with open arms.”
He also went on The Sports Den on 1010XL during the Senior Bowl and emphasized his openness to contribute on special teams in the NFL. Coach Meyer prepared him for the next level and exactly what to say when he got there.
Round 5, Pick 145
Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
Another guy who didn’t dazzle at his Pro Day (SEE WHAT I DID THERE, YOUGUYS), and, in turn, could fall to the Jaguars. Newsome ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, and checked-in at 5’10’’, 190 lbs. The Jaguars’ wide receiver room is arguably one of the team’s stronger position groups, but its biggest need: a slot receiver.
I know he’s only been back for two seasons, but Mack Brown has a bunch of dudes on the roster in Chapel Hill, especially in the wide receiver room. Dyami Brown is expected to be drafted. Then there’s running backs Javonte Williams and Michael Carter. The Tar Heels had eleven different guys catch touchdowns in 2020. Yet even with all those dudes, Newsome still shined. He racked up 2,435 receiving yards over four years, including a 1,000-plus yard season his junior campaign, with 18 career touchdowns. He added two more scores out of the backfield, too. Newsome is also a threat in the return game.
Newsome is a poor man’s Kadarius Toney and/or Rondale Moore. Selecting him in the fifth-round would be a tremendous, value pick.
Round 5, Pick 170
Patrick Johnson, EDGE, Tulane
Yes, it’s Tulane (they never won more than seven games in Johnson’s four seasons there). But seven sacks in a season? 11.5 TFL? And two forced fumbles – all in a nine-game season? Patrick Johnson could provide some mighty good value. Especially since, unlike Cooper, who would be coming from a 4-3 scheme, Johnson would come tailor-made for Jaguars’ defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. The Green Wave primarily used him as a true off-ball linebacker, but he also lined up on the edge and along the interior of the defensive line. He’s also not afraid to drop into coverage, with 11 career passes defended.
The biggest knock is Johnson’s short wing span and inconsistent hand placement. He has only been a designated pass rusher since midway through his sophomore season. Thus, Johnson probably won’t be lighting the league on fire his rookie season – it may even take two years. But there’s raw talent and versatility there.
This Reddit write-up on Johnson, the “Monster from New Orleans,” is also fantastic.
Round 7, Pick 249
Manny Rugamba, DB, Miami (OH)
After slotting Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette here last week, my Hawkeyes followers are probably thinking Pick 249 is the de facto, “Old Friend Alert” pick. I promise: it’s moreso guys that are going to fall because of lack of big-name recognition… and whom Urban Meyer knows a thing or two about.
Rugamba transferred from Iowa after two seasons, sitting out the 2018 season per transfer rules. It wasn’t like he wasn’t receiving playing time in Iowa City either: as a freshman, he was thrust into a starting role in the Hawkeyes’ 14-13 win over No. 2 Michigan, picking off Wilton Speight and adding four tackles (0.5 TFL) and three passes defended. Rugamba’s production took a massive jump when he first got on the field for the RedHawks. In 12 games in 2019, he had 85 tackles (3 TFL), eight passes defended, and an interception. He was named Defensive MVP of the MAC Championship Game. COVID-19 spoiled his 2020 season in more ways than one, but Rugamba was able to play in three games and score his first career pick-six.
Rugamba projects as a nickel cornerback but offers the versatility to move outside if called upon. He’s strong in the run game, best in man-coverage, and can also chip-in on special teams. At 5’11’’, 194 lbs, he’s a bit bigger than your traditional nickel. I believe his toughness and ability to step up under the brightest of stages will resonate with Meyer’s Jaguars.
Well, that was fun! Let’s do this again next Monday morning, shall we?
And don’t forget: you can watch all three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft LIVE on ABC25 April 29-May 1, 2021.
Hit me up on Twitter at @MiaOBrienTV or firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts for next week’s Monday Mock.