Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 Season Preview: Can Lawrence live up to the hype?

The Jacksonville Jaguars' season preview for 2021 isn't the most optimistic, but they're a rebuilding team with a ton of future potential.

There aren’t too many NFL franchises in 2021 that have a more fascinating season preview than the Jacksonville Jaguars. They have a new head coach that’s both legendary and infamous. They signed a former quarterback and minor league baseball player to play tight end. And the Jaguars hired a strength coach that resigned less than two days later. Furthermore, Jacksonville drafted one of the most hyped quarterback prospects in the past 30 years.

Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 season preview

According to Vegas, the Jaguars have the eighth-easiest schedule in the NFL. They face five teams projected to win at least 10 games in 2021. They also have to battle the Tennessee Titans twice, who are projected to win 9.5 games. Of their five games, two come against the unknown Indianapolis Colts. Additionally, Jacksonville hosts the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers while going on the road to play the Rams.

On the other hand, the Jaguars will also play some teams projected to lose a bunch of games next season. The Houston Texans give the Jaguars two games against a team slated to win just 4.5 games out of 17. Jacksonville also faces the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Jets during the season.

Offseason additions and losses

The Jaguars weren’t too aggressive during the offseason. They hired Urban Meyer to captain the ship in Jacksonville, which has been met with mixed emotions from many. They also signed Tim Tebow, who will play tight end and possibly a bit of quarterback if Meyer wants to get gimmicky with the offense.

Marvin Jones was a solid veteran addition that brings a fine third option to the receiving corps. Alongside D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault, Jones should help spread the offense out. The team also added Carlos Hyde, whom Meyer coached while at Ohio State.

Shaquill Griffin was a necessary acquisition for the secondary, which lacked a legitimate corner opposite of C.J. Henderson. Griffin will hopefully help mold the raw talents of Henderson and draft pick Tyson Campbell.

Things were pretty quiet outside of those moves. Other than hiring Chris Doyle, defending the hire, and then quickly receiving enough pressure to force a resignation, nothing else of note was gained or lost for the team.

2021 NFL Draft

Jacksonville had five picks in the first 65 of the 2021 NFL Draft. The results of those picks varied from no-brainers to head-scratchers. Trevor Lawrence was the obvious choice from the second we knew the draft order. Lawrence is a bit of a rail in build, standing at almost 6’6″ and 215 pounds. However, Lawrence definitely doesn’t need to shy away from contact, nor does he need to as a runner. His arm is what elevated him to near-deity status, though.

The Jaguars’ next selection was a head-tilter. It wasn’t confusing because of the player, but because of what was said about the player afterward. If they really drafted Travis Etienne as a third-down back in Round 1, it’d be a pathetic use of precious draft capital. The explosive athlete has improved drastically as a pass catcher, but his best usage is as a runner.

Campbell was a sensible selection and one that was necessary for their defense. The Jaguars needed help on the back end going into the future. Henderson and Griffin are there, and both are young. Nevertheless, in a league that uses a majority of 11 personnel, every team needs three legitimate cornerbacks to tread water.

The Jaguars add to the offensive line

Jacksonville also drafted Stanford offensive tackle Walker Litte, who is pegged as a high-upside pick. He hasn’t played much football since 2018, and even then, his tape only showed flashes. Barring an unexpected uptick in play, he won’t be able to give great production early in his career.

Adding Andre Cisco to the Jaguars’ defense is another upside pick based on tape from a few years ago. He took the ball away at a high rate in 2019, but some of his tape is concerning. Cisco is an athletic free safety, but his propensity for getting turned around and beat deep will need to go away if he is to be successful in the NFL. Nevertheless, they needed to address safety, and they did so with this pick.

Jacksonville did all of that damage in the top-100 picks. They made some fun selections after as well.

Day 3 picks

USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele was a great selection. He’s another high-upside player whose tape comes from before 2020 (opt-out). Still, his hands are good, and he has solid lateral mobility to cross the face of blockers. Jordan Smith was impressive in college, but most of his tape made him look incredibly athletic. Yet, he didn’t test that way, which muddied the waters for evaluators.

The Jaguars rounded it out by attacking the offensive side with Ohio State tight end Luke Farrell and Georgia Tech wide receiver Jalen Camp. Farrell didn’t see much production at OSU, but some bits of his athletic testing was good, which lends hope to his potential. Camp is an athletic receiver with unbelievable size. For some reason, he decided Georgia Tech was an excellent school to call home. I’m still not sure why receivers do that.

Where do Jacksonville players rank in PFN’s Top 100?

The Jaguars are in a rough spot for their season preview. They do not have any players currently in the PFN Top 100. Regardless, they still have some fantastic players on their roster and some young talent. Josh Allen recorded an impressive rookie season rushing the passer but suffered from an injury in 2020. There’s a chance he could step back in as a healthy player in 2021 and dominate offensive lines again.

Jaguars’ 2021 prediction

Urban Meyer is a complete wild card. As successful as he’s been at every college stop he’s been to, it’s unknown if his message and schematics will work in the NFL. He’s already complained about some of the restrictions in the pros compared to college.

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has been around for a long time. He’s been an offensive coordinator for the better part of 15 years now. It was a smart move for Meyer to go with an experienced OC. Joe Cullen is a rookie defensive coordinator, but he recently spent time as the Baltimore Ravens defensive line coach. Baltimore is one of the better organizations across all sports.

Offense

There are many unknowns with this team, but the offense has some very nice weapons to work with. The Jaguars were at the bottom of both offensive and defensive efficiency in 2020, so it’ll be difficult to go anywhere but up.

Defense

Like the offense, it’ll be difficult to get worse results defensively. Getting Allen back is huge, and adding Griffin on the back end helps as well. Jacksonville’s schedule should also help their results, as a portion of their defensive performance comes from the opposing offense’s abilities.

2021 Jaguars’ record prediction

Even though their strength of schedule isn’t daunting, the Jaguars’ 2021 season preview is pessimistic. Lawrence should help elevate this team compared to social media favorite Gardner Minshew, but there are still too many unknowns to gauge how good this team may be. They’re projected to win six games, and that feels about right.

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