Seventeen more days of “silly season” folks.
Seventeen more days until the Jacksonville Jaguars are officially on-the-clock at the 2021 NFL Draft.
Seventeen more days of those relatives in New Jersey trying to convince you that Urban Meyer is going to trade out of the top spot and/or select a running back with the Jaguars’ first-round picks (oops, did I say that out loud?)
Love those relatives, but spoiler alert: the Jaguars are taking the newly-married Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 overall, come hell or come high water.
This week, I have these nine, additional prospects joining the Heisman runner-up in Duval County.
Round 1, Pick 1
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Jaguars Twitter bought this man a $300 toaster. There’s no turning back now, y’all.
Round 1, Pick 25
Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
One of the most frequently mocked players to the Jaguars at No. 25 (ESPN’s Mel Kiper and NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah also have the Big Cats selecting the hard-hitting safety). Moehrig projects at free safety, but he does offer position and scheme versatility. While newly-minted, free agent signee Rayshawn Jenkins will be expected to start at strong safety and crowd the box, Moehrig would be the Day One starter in “centerfield.” Dude is a straight up ballhawk: Moehrig had seven interceptions and 21 passes defended over 33 collegiate games. He ran a 4.5 40-yard dash with a 33’’ vertical jump at his Pro Day.
Moehrig is a plug-and-play, Day One starter with the football IQ to not just transition to the next level: he’ll be a leader from Day One.
New defensive coordinator Joe Cullen will most likely be bringing a safety-heavy scheme from Baltimore (the Ravens ran more three-safety sets than any other team in the league the past few seasons). Right now, the Jaguars have enough bodies in the secondary… but they don’t have enough “dudes” to fulfill that sort of depth. Moehrig is an alpha dog. Jaguars fans can only hope he makes it to No. 25.
Round 2, Pick 33
Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
The “second-coming of Percy Harvin” made himself some money at the Gators’ Pro Day last month – and it may be a stretch to say he’ll still be here with the first pick of the second round. The speed (4.44 40-yard dash) and the athletic prowess (11’4’’ broad jump) were on full display in front of NFL scouts and coaches, including Urban Meyer himself. All that on top of a senior year in which Toney racked up 11 touchdowns, 984 receiving yards, and another 161 yards on the ground; thanks to injuries and the lack of a defined role, Toney never had more than one touchdown in any of his three previous seasons in Gainesville. Having covered him the last two-plus years, I remain convinced the man does not have IT bands or ACL ligaments: he moves laterally in ways human beings are not biologically built to move. And does it fast (Urban Meyer’s favorite word!).
The Jaguars shouldn’t be content with Laviska Shenault as their only “gadget” type player. Shenault is a massive, 6’1’’, 227 lb beast. Toney is 5’11’’and 189 pounds. That’s now two, completely different wrinkles to your offense – and both on rookie contracts. Additionally, as the president of the #LetLaviskaCook Fan Club (let him stretch the field from the X on occasion, please, Urban), I believe Shenault can’t be relegated to solely playing the slot. Toney, on the other hand, is a natural fit for the “small, crafty wide receiver” that Trevor Lawrence seemingly had every year at Clemson – and which the Jaguars currently lack.
Not to mention: can you imagine Shenault and Toney lining up in the backfield at the same time? Like, the opposition might actually not automatically assume Shenault is getting the ball, every single time!!!
Round 2, Pick 45
Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
I’ve said it almost every week, and I will say it once more: outside of Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson, the cupboard is pretty bare for the Jaguars at EDGE rusher. Presuming they are moving to a 3-4 defensive front, I would envision Allen and Chaisson at that outside linebacker, designated pass rusher position. Backing them up would be linebackers Joe Giles-Harris and Leon Jacobs (coming off an ACL tear)… and that’s it. “Sacksonville” was at its best in 2017, 2018, and 2019 when they had three, elite pass rushing threats. Allen enjoyed a Pro Bowl season his rookie campaign because he had the luxury of lining up alongside Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue; opponents weren’t scheming against him and him alone. That’s going to happen again in 2021 just as it did in 2020 unless the Jaguars get some more marquee pass rushers.
Tryon opted out of the 2020 season. But he had 41 tackles (12.5 for loss) and eight sacks in 2019. I anticipate many teams will straight up forget what some of these opt-out’s did before, well, opting out of the 2020 season, especially a player on an 8-5 Pac-12 squad like Tryon. That could lead to him dropping further than this and being a third-round steal much in the same way Ngakoue was for Jacksonville in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Tryon is an athletic freak in the same mold of both Allen and Chaisson. Tryon’s relative athletic score (9.68) is 44th out of 1,349 defensive since 1987. Allen came in at 9.74 out of school; Chaisson did not record a RAS or have a Pro Day due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but his measurables were off-the-charts.
The point is: add Tryon and the Jaguars not only would get back to that three-headed monster at pass rusher. They would arguably have the most athletic Edge rusher position room in the NFL.
Round 3, Pick 65
Jay Tufele, IDL, USC
This one was fascinating to me when I concocted this week’s mock draft in The Draft Network’s simulator. Tufele was regarded as a first-round prospect early on in the Draft process. He opted out of the 2020 season (and plays in the Pac-12, like Tryon), and many big boards dropped him to a second or third-round pick.
When I was conducting this mock draft simulation, Tufele was available with Pick 106 in the fourth-round. This is regarded as a historically weak defensive tackle class. There’s no way Tufele is still on the board on Day Three.
Tufele is a natural 3-technique, but he has played along the interior in a variety of different fronts. With Tyson Alualu opting not to sign in Jacksonville, the Jaguars could stand to use a high-draft pick on a defensive lineman – especially, again, given how weak this year’s class is and Urban Meyer’s desire to rank “in the top-fourth in the league” along the defensive line. Tufele was an All-Pac 12 selection in the two collegiate seasons he did play. He weighs 305 lbs and ran a 4.97 40-yard dash – not to mention his 30 reps of 225 pounds on the bench.
Urban Meyer also was heavily involved in Tufele’s college recruitment, even making a last-effort, at-home visit to Tufele’s Utah home in 2017.
Round 4, Pick 106
Kenny Yeboah, TE, Ole Miss
A reminder: the Jaguars tight end room as of today features 101 career catches and four touchdowns. 88 of those receptions and three of those touchdowns are courtesy of James O’Shaughnessy. Kenny Yeboah only had 74 career, collegiate receptions himself, but 27 of them came in Lane Kiffin's pass-happy offense in Yeboah's lone season in Oxford. Six of those receptions went for touchdowns. Yeboah averaged more than 19 yards a catch. If he’s put in the right situation, Yeboah is a high ceiling prospect. He’s got the measurables (6’4’’, 247 lbs) and would automatically give the Jaguars another, big red-zone threat, while also providing above-average blocking.
For what it’s worth: I fully expect Yeboah to also be gone by Day Three, but hey! In this simulation he was available.
While Florida’s Kyle Pitts will undoubtedly be selected in the Top-10 overall (if not Top-Five), the next tight end probably doesn’t get called until late in the first-round or early in the second. The run on tight ends will follow. At this point, the pecking order tends to be Pitts, Pat Freiermuth, Brevin Jordan, Tommy Tremble… and then some combination of Yeboah, Boston College’s Hunter Long, and Georgia’s Tre McKitty (with some other wild cards thrown in there). Jacksonville will probably need to strike before Day Three one way or another.
Round 4, Pick 130
Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
One of the first prospects the Jaguars reportedly met with, I was surprised that Hill did not evolve into the ultimate, pass-catching tailback in Mike Leach’s offense. Then again, after Week One, Mike Leach’s offense really didn’t do all that much this fall.
Hill’s tape screams another James Robinson (but what’s better than one J-Rob? Two J-Rob’s!). They’re both tackle-breaking, 5’10’’, 215 lb-ish tailbacks that aren’t going to wow you with 4.3 speed in the open-field. They both were record-setting backs at the high school and collegiate level; Hill was the only SEC running back to average 100 yards-plus per contest in 2019.
He did only play in three games in 2020 before opting out, so perhaps we haven’t seen the full breath of what Hill could’ve done as a pass-catcher in Leach’s Air Raid offense. He lead the team in receptions in one of those three games (15, against Kentucky) and broke the school record for most receiving yards by a running back in a single game in another (158 receiving yards, against LSU). Hill is not a lead-tailback at the next level, so maybe he is able to pivot towards a pass-catching, third-down back – and perhaps the Jaguars already see signs of it.
Round 5, Pick 145
Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan
I’m starting to think we need to henceforth refer to Mia’s Monday Mock Draft 3.0 as “The One with all the Opt-Out’s.” Thomas is another athletic freak that skipped the 2020 season due to COVID-19. He projects as a starting nickel cornerback, and, quite frankly, probably goes in the second or third round if he had played his senior season. Thomas is a physical defender who thrives in press man coverage, a “nastiness” that could align with what Joe Cullen is bringing down from Baltimore. At this point, Tre Herndon figures to start at nickel for Jacksonville in 2021; 2020 fourth-rounder Josiah Scott is also on the roster. Meyer is going to want more competition at the position. Thomas could eventually slide outside, if called into action, too.
Thomas was as steady as they come his junior season. He had 38 tackles (three for loss), three interceptions, three passes defended and two fumble recoveries. As much as the Jaguars invested in return man Jamal Agnew this off-season, Thomas would also offer return ability and special teams availability. He’s got some of Meyer’s coveted speed, too, clocking in a 4.37 40-yard dash.
The only connection I would have loved to see would have been strong performances against Meyer’s Buckeyes; alas, Thomas has only two career tackles in three games against Ohio State. The Detroit native did receive an offer from Meyer’s Buckeyes in 2017.
Round 5, Pick 170
Sadarius Hutcherson, OL, South Carolina
Not only did Urban Meyer keep the Jaguars’ 2020 offensive line in-tact: he brought back their position coach, George Warhop. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble who thinks the Big Cats will take an offensive lineman on Day One/Day Two: it isn’t happening. I also don't think the Jaguars will draft multiple offensive linemen either, especially if they can get a guy with versatility like Hutcherson.
A four-year contributor for the Gamecocks, Hutcherson has played left guard, right guard, and left tackle (guess which three starters the Jaguars do not have under contract for 2022?). He’s projected to play guard at the next level. It’s rather fascinating that so many draft analysts feel Hutcherson is a “sufficient athlete” because he received a 9.89 Relative Athletic Score. That’s 13th best for offensive guards graded since 1987. Not too shabby for a 321 lb mauler.
Or, as one personnel executive told NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein:
"You always kill these big, explosive guys and I'm telling you that he's going to end up playing because of his physical attributes."
Round 7, Pick 249
Shaun Beyer, TE, Iowa
So, remember what I said about that run on tight ends? It’s going to happen somewhere in Rounds Two-Three-Four. But there are still some intriguing tight end prospects towards the end of Day Three that teams are going to want to take a chance on. There’s former quarterbacks like Virginia’s Tony Poljan and Duke’s Noah Gray. There’s some small school guys.
And then there’s athletic freaks like Beyer who never really got going in college, but flashed potential in a COVID-19, abbreviated season. You can trust me on this one: I covered Beyer when he was in high school, leading Cedar Rapids Kennedy from a three-win season to the State Championship game. He was also a stand-out hurdler and high jumper.
Beyer had just 18 career receptions for 275 yards and a touchdown at Iowa; he did average more than 15 yards a catch. Beyer also finished as the fourth highest-graded tight end in all of college football in 2020, per Pro Football Focus. As the video below suggests, his receptions weren’t just seam routes over the middle either.
Beyer was the third tight end that Iowa signed in the Class of 2016. The other two? 2018 first-round draftees T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant. This one might be worth the gamble just based off that track-record alone – especially since Urban Meyer probably still has nightmares from what Iowa’s tight ends did to Ohio State in October 2017. To be sure, Beyer is not Hockenson or Fant. He’s 6’5’’, 248 lbs. Buried on the depth chart, the Hawkeyes tried him out at wide receiver for a while. Is he just Collin Johnson in a tight end’s jersey? Perhaps. But with the Iowa TEU pedigree, and given Meyer’s Big Ten ties, it could be a fun project.
Plus, the Jaguars need all the help they can get at this position. If it's not Beyer, it's another tight end. They're drafting two.
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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 email@example.com with your thoughts for next week's Monday Mock.