Jacksonville Jaguars Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson - Round 1
Urban Meyer has always wanted speed backs in his offenses, and Etienne has rare explosion for a running back. On top of his ability to run the ball and serve as a dangerous receiver, giving Trevor Lawrence his college back in Etienne will help Lawrence, on and off the field, adjust to the NFL. Lawrence and Etienne already have an on-field chemistry from the past three years and will aide each other in the transition to a new place with an off-the-field friend.

The first trait that stand out about Etienne is his extraordinary speed. He has a sprinter's agility, which makes him a threat to take any touch of the ball the length of the field for a touchdown. With his first-step quickness and burst to the hole, Etienne gets to the second level in a hurry and can explode down the field. Etienne is so fast that he can take away angles from defenders while running away from the defense. Once Etienne breaks into the open field, he is simply too fast to be caught from behind.

On top of being very fast, Etienne demonstrates very good running fundamentals, like the patience to let holes develop, the vision to see lanes about to come open, and good body lean to run behind his pads. While Etienne is not a big back, he does flash some nice balance to maintain his feet after contact, and he has a nose for the end zone. There were some plays in college where he picked up yards after contact and ran through some tackles, but those won't happen in the NFL given the bigger and stronger defenders. He cannot be expected to be a back who runs over tacklers and picks up a lot of yards after contact. As a senior, he displayed more toughness, physicality, and an ability to pick up yards after contact, but running over tacklers in the NFL won't be his calling card.

Etienne looked really improved in terms of his receiving as a senior. His hands and route-running seemed so much better. He now catches the ball with his hands and is able to run some good routes. Etienne has the potential for the NFL to be a good receiving back who is a dangerous weapon to rip off yards in chunks on check downs to the flat. Etienne can turn a routine pass into a big play, and he could be a good contributor to a pro passing attack. Etienne will provide a mismatch against linebackers in man coverage, and his moves in the open field will make him very difficult to tackle. Etienne could be an extremely valuable weapon for the Jaguars on third-and-manageable given his ability to catch an easy completion and turn it into a first down.

The Jaguars have another good back in second-year pro James Robinson. In the immediate future, Etienne and Robinson can platoon to share the rushing load. That running back-by-committee approach has a history with Urban Meyer as well, and over time, I think Etienne will evolve into being a solid starter for Jacksonville.

2020: K'Lavon Chaisson, OLB
2019: Josh Allen, LB
2018: Ronnie Harrison, S
2017: Cam Robinson, OT
2016: Sheldon Day, DT
2015: Dante Fowler, DE
2014: Allen Robinson, WR
2013: Luke Joeckel, LT

Most Likely To Bust

Walker Little, OT, Stanford - Round 2
I like Little (6-7, 309) as a player, but he was a risky pick in the second round considering he has gone three years since playing a full football season. Little's decision to sit out the 2020 season, even in the shortened format, really hurts his ability to shake off rust for the NFL.

After playing well in 2017 and 2018, Little was injured in the fourth quarter of the 2019 season opener, which ended his year. He could have still been an early-rounder in the 2020 NFL Draft despite the knee injury, but he decided to return to the Cardinal for 2020. After the outbreak of COVID-19, Little decided to sit out his senior year and enter the 2021 NFL Draft. That makes for three years since Little went through the grind of a season. The time off really hurts his development as a player because football is a game of reps, practice, and there is no substitute for experience.

When Little starts competing in a NFL training camp this summer, it will be the first extensive football action he has seen in almost three years. Little could be a good value if he can stay healthy, shake off the rust, and return to his pre-injury form. He may need a redshirt season to get back into the groove of playing football again. Little's injury history and rust factor make him the riskiest selection of the Jaguars' early-round picks and give him the most bust potential.

2020: Laviska Shenault, WR
2019: Josh Oliver, TE
2018: D.J. Chark, WR
2017: DeDe Westbrook, WR
2016: Jalen Ramsey, DB
2015: A.J. Cann, G
2014: Blake Bortles, QB
2013: Denard Robinson, RB

Potential Boom Pick

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson - Round 1
This was an easy choice; the Jaguars won the lottery by landing the first-overall pick in a draft that featured an elite quarterback prospect. I think Lawrence has the potential to become one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, and he could make the Jaguars a Super Bowl contender if they give him enough support to field a quality team around him.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Lawrence is a pro-ready passer. His accuracy is exceptional, and he consistently places the ball perfectly downfield. Lawrence can fit passes into windows the size of a shoe box, and he drops in strikes past defensive backs. Even though Lawrence will throw into some tight windows, he displays good decision-making and does a great job of avoiding turnovers. Lawrence places passes where his receivers can make a play on the ball and avoids giving defensive backs opportunities to pick passes off. The tall Lawrence sees the field extremely well, and he has advanced field vision. Lawrence displays pocket composure to stand erect in the pocket and does not get rattled by the pass rush.

One trait that really sets Lawrence apart and makes him a truly rare prospect is his deep-ball accuracy. With a variety of receivers, Lawrence does a phenomenal job of locating his passes downfield to beat coverage and lead his weapons to big plays. His cannon of an arm and his precision passing deep downfield mean defenses can't crowd the box, or he will make them pay. Thus, Lawrence's passing ability could really open things up for the rushing attack in the NFL and lead to more success for his team that does not show up in his personal stats.

Lawrence is a good fit for any NFL offense because his powerful arm would allow him to work in a vertical offense and his accuracy on short passes and ability to get the ball out quick lets him fit in a West Coast system. Lawrence has a quick release and a fast arm whip. His internal clock is advanced as well, letting him get the ball out quickly and not put extra pressure on his offensive line. When time allows, he is patient to let routes develop and does not panic if his first read is covered. Lawrence is a calm and poised passer capable of ripping apart a defense from the pocket.

On top of elite passing talent, Lawrence has excellent mobility and athleticism. He shows quick feet and a burst as a runner that catches defenses by surprise. On read-option plays, Lawrence shows some toughness to pound the ball up the middle, and he has some power on the ground that makes him effective in short-yardage situations and near the goal line. Lawrence has nice mobility to dodge defenders in the pocket, and he throws well on the run. In the open field, Lawrence is a slippery runner who can dodge tacklers thanks to his straight-line speed to run away from defenses. He will probably be the used much less as a runner as a pro to protect him from injury, but he definitely has the ability to use his legs to convert some first downs when everything is covered or to buy time in the pocket. Lawrence will be a nice asset to help his offensive line.

Team sources who talked football with Lawrence came away very impressed with his intelligence. They also liked his ability to get his team in the right play. Lawrence still has some things he could stand to work on as pro. Sources say not locking on his first read is one point of improvement. Lawrence could stand to speed up the process of working through his progressions.

With his passing ability, mobility, intelligence, toughness and character, Lawrence is a true franchise quarterback and generational prospect. He could be the best quarterback prospect to enter the NFL in the past 20 years. Out of polling sources from 10 teams, the majority felt Lawrence was a better quarterback prospect than Andrew Luck and Lawrence was the best prospect of the last 20 years.

Jacksonville has a golden opportunity to build an elite franchise with a rare quarterback prospect. Lawrence definitely has boom-pick potential for the Jaguars.

2020: C.J. Henderson, CB
2019: Jawaan Taylor, OT
2018: Taven Bryan, DT
2017: Leonard Fournette, RB
2016: Myles Jack, LB
2015: T.J. Yeldon, RB
2014: Marqise Lee, WR
2013: Jonathan Cyprien, S

Future Depth Player

Luke Farrell, TE, Ohio State - Round 5
I think the Jaguars landed future starters in Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell in Round 2 and Syracuse safety Andre Cisco in Round 3, so this was a difficult choice and I had to go to Day 3 to find a solid backup. Obviously, head coach Urban Meyer is familiar with Farrell from recruiting him and coaching him at Ohio State. I think Farrell has limitations as a receiver that will keep him from being a No. 1 tight end, but he could be a solid backup and blocking tight end for Jacksonville. Farrell may never be a world beater, but I think he could be a quality backup who contributes in his role.

2020: DaVon Hamilton, DT
2019: Ryquell Armstead, RB
2018: Will Richardson, OT
2017: Dawuane Smoot, DE
2016: Brandon Allen, QB
2015: Michael Bennett, DT
2014: Chris Smith, LB
2013: Ace Sanders, WR

Walt's 2021 NFL Draft Grades:

1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson - A+ Grade
I've been running this Web site for more than 21 years, and Trevor Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect I've ever covered. Unless he suffers a barrage of injuries throughout his career, I can't see him busting, or even being slightly better than mediocre. There's a very good chance Lawrence will be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL over the next 15 years or so. The Jaguars deserve an A+ not only for the pick; but for making it happen. The Jets won some meaningless games late in 2020 and lost out on Lawrence. The Jaguars, conversely, seemed to tank late in the year (versus the Bears in particular) because they knew that doing so would allow them to be a Super Bowl contender for a long time.

25. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson - F Grade
Ugh. Apparently, the Jaguars didn't read my analysis of the D- grade I gave to the Steelers. There's no reason to select a running back in the first round. It just has an extensive losing track record. Travis Etienne projects to be a good player, but this pick simply wasn't necessary, especially when considering that running back was not a need at all. That's the difference between the Steeler and Jaguar grades.

33. Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia - A- Grade
The Jaguars had a miserable defense that they needed to address, so this is the beginning of that. There was a huge hole at cornerback across from C.J. Henderson, which Tyson Campbell will fill. Campbell is a lengthy cornerback I had in the first round of some of my updates. I eventually moved him into the middle of Round 2, but this is the right area for him.

45. Walker Little, OT, Stanford - B- Grade
Walker Little is a risk. He's had a long layoff from football because of an injury in 2019. I thought he would fall in the 2021 NFL Draft as a result. However, he projects to be a quality pass protector, so I won't complain too much about this pick because the Jaguars had a weakness at tackle and they had to protect Trevor Lawrence.

65. Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse - A- Grade
The Jaguars have been heavily criticized for their bad draft thus far by many, but this is a strong selection. Andre Cisco is a very instinctive safety who can start right away for a secondary that sorely needed help in the secondary entering the offseason.

106. Jay Tufele, DT, USC - A- Grade
Jay Tufele was expected to go early in the third round, so the Jaguars are getting some nice value with this pick. They have yet to replace Calais Campbell, so it would make sense that they would target a defensive tackle with this selection. Tufele obviously won't be Campbell, but he has some nice upside.

121. Jordan Smith, DE, UAB - F Grade
The Jaguars traded up for a player they could have obtained with their natural pick. Seems par for the course when accounting for Urban Meyer's inexperience with the NFL Draft. I'm all for Jacksonville obtaining another edge rusher, but teams weren't dying to draft Jordan Smith. I didn't even have him drafted, though I considered him in the seventh round.

145. Luke Farrell, TE, Ohio State - D Grade
Luke Farrell is not someone I had on my radar as a draftable prospect. The Jaguars needed to address their hole at tight end - and not because Gerald Everett left - but there were many better players at the position.

209. Jalen Camp, WR, Georgia Tech - B Grade
I didn't have Jalen Camp in my mock draft, but I considered him because he's a big receiver with major athleticism. The Jaguars didn't need a receiver, but there's upside with Camp, so this is a fine selection.

2021 NFL Draft Team Grade: B. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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