From Lawrence to Camp: Thoughts on Each Jaguars' Draft Pick Entering Training Camp
The Jacksonville Jaguars' rookies have officially reported to training camp. In a few short days and weeks, those rookies will be putting on their pads and helmets to take the field in their first-ever NFL training camps.
The Jaguars ushered in the rookie report day with the signing of their final three unsigned draft picks. With all nine picks now under contract, the Jaguars and the rookie class is looking onwards and upward.
So, what is the current state of the team's draft class ahead of camp? From Trevor Lawrence to Jalen Camp, we take a look at each pick before they tackle grueling August practices.
QB Trevor Lawrence
- Don't pay any attention to Urban Meyer and the Jaguars not naming Trevor Lawrence the starting quarterback before training camp. The plan over the entire offseason was to build the Jaguars' offense to support a rookie passer, both through blockers, running backs, and pass-catching options. Lawrence will be named the starter before Week 1 in some capacity or fashion.
- And for all of the struggles that most rookie quarterbacks face, perhaps Lawrence should be graded a bit on a scale. He will undoubtedly face his own ups and downs as a rookie, but everything suggests Lawrence has the best chance of any rookie quarterback to hit the ground running. He has veteran receivers, one of the game's top blocking tight ends, one of the league's most experienced and highest-paid offensive lines, and a solid stable of running backs. Mix in two veteran NFL play-callers in Brian Schottenheimer and Darrell Bevell and the Jaguars' offense has the tools to support Lawrence and make noise in 2021.
Travis Etienne Jr.
- Don't be surprised to continue to see the Jaguars emphasize the art of running receiver routes with Travis Etienne during training camp. The bulk of his reps will come out of the backfield, but the biggest projection in Etienne's game is as a route-runner. He caught plenty of passes for Clemson the last two seasons, but he was mostly limited to simple routes of the backfield like screens, swings, and check/release routes. Etienne looked comfortable as a route-runner in minicamp and OTAs, but this will be an area he will have to continue to focus on in training camp.
- Tyson Campbell's long-term outlook with the Jaguars may be on the outside or even as a versatile chess piece, but for 2021 it is most reasonable to expect him to spend his time as a slot cornerback. This will likely be an adjustment since Campbell spent just 68 snaps in the slot for the Georgia Bulldogs over the last three seasons according to Pro Football Focus. With this in mind, Campbell has the length, tackling ability, and potential as a blitzer to make plays as a nickel corner.
- The Jaguars likely won't need Walker Little to start often as a rookie after franchise-tagging starting left tackle Cam Robinson, but Little is still the favorite to start in 2022. The Jaguars didn't spend a top-50 pick on Little and make him the de facto backup left tackle as a rookie to have him sit on the bench for the duration of his rookie deal. Little has played in just one game in two years and that number is unlikely to increase this year unless Robinson misses time with injury, but he will still be the team's top backup tackle and active each Sunday.
- The area the Jaguars will likely be most eager to see Little make strides in during his first camp? His run blocking. Jaguars offensive line coach George Warhop made it apparent in June that the Jaguars are confident in Little's ability to translate to the NFL as a pass-blocker, but it is two years of missed starts that call into question exactly where he is in terms of physically dominating in the run game.
- A player the Jaguars' coaching staff is extremely high on, it may be hard to keep third-round safety Andre Cisco off the field as long as he is healthy. Cisco said following draft night that he expected to be available in training camp following a torn ACL that ended his final season at Syracuse, and comments like the following from defensive coordinator Joe Cullen in June: "Then, Andre [Cisco], before his injury, was probably the top safety in the country. I think he had 13 interceptions in about roughly two years, and he fits all the boxes in terms of the size, the speed, the athleticism." As long as he is healthy, he should be expected to contribute early.
- Jay Tufele will have to fight for snaps early on as a rookie and that will start in training camp. The former top recruit and high school rugby star will have to find a way to crack a rotation at three-technique that will also involve Doug Costin and Taven Bryan, and Bryan may be the favorite. Tufele will have to show flashes as a pass-rusher in camp to stake a claim for a large role as a rookie, but he should factor in on run downs as part of a rotation.
- The development of fourth-round rookie edge defender Jordan Smith will be an intriguing one to watch over the next few seasons. He is one of the taller and longer defensive ends to enter the entire 2021 NFL Draft and he is still refining his game as he adds muscle to his 6-foot-7 frame. Smith will likely not factor into the pass-rush rotation on a consistent basis as a rookie but he is an interesting pass-rush specialist option for down the stretch of 2021.
- It isn't completely out of the realm of reality to think Luke Farrell could see snaps in jumbo sets and when the Jaguars simply want to get big upfront. The Jaguars have Chris Manhertz as their starting Y tight end, but it is clear that Farrell is immediately behind Manhertz thanks to his blocking ability at Ohio State. As long as he shows up as a blocker as a rookie, he should see reps when the Jaguars want to give Trevor Lawrence mass protection.
- If there is a true "sleeper" among this group to make the 53-man roster, it could be Georgia Tech receiver Jalen Camp. The Jaguars are crowded at the receiver spot to a large degree, but Camp made plays over and over again throughout the offseason and likely won't go away quietly. Camp has the height and speed to threaten downfield but it has been his ability to bring in touch catches that caught a lot of eyes in June.