DT Jay Tufele named Jaguars best-value pick in 2021 NFL Draft

Jacksonville Jaguars - Defensive lineman Jay Tufele #78 (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Jacksonville Jaguars - Defensive lineman Jay Tufele #78 (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars came out of the 2021 NFL Draft with a franchise quarterback in Trevor Lawrence and electrifying running back Travis Etienne. However, they weren’t the only additions the team made and they were also able to land some defensive talent, including defensive tackle Jay Tufele, who was recently named the Jags’ best-value pick.

Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report recently wrote about every NFL team’s top selection in relation to their draft slot in 2021, and Tufele was the Jaguars’ pick. He describes the USC standout as a player with the “potential to make an instant impact” in Jacksonville’s defensive front and points out that he’s an asset against the run who “should quickly upgrade a unit that allowed the third-most rushing yards in 2020”.

The Jaguars drafted Tufele in the fourth round of 2021’s draft. The Utah native appeared in 24 games for the Trojans and logged 35 total tackles, ten tackles for a loss, and 6.5 sacks over two years. He has a quick first step and is the kind of player that is going to make an effort in every single play, and while needs to work on his pass-rushing technique, he can develop into a solid starter.

Keep in mind that this wasn’t a good year to select a defensive tackle. Christian Barmore notwithstanding, no defensive tackle had a first-round grade and it wouldn’t have been smart to reach for a defensive tackle in the first or second round, so waiting until the fourth round to take Tufele also makes it a value pick.

Tufele will compete for snaps in the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive line.

The Jaguars gave up the third-most rushing yards in 2021 and also ranked 29th in rushing touchdowns allowed. Although Doug Costin and DaVon Hamilton showed flashes last season, defensive tackle was an area of need for Jacksonville this offseason, so it hasn’t been surprising to see them fortifying the position in the last few months.

Besides drafting Tufele, the Jags also gave the New Orleans Saints a seventh-round selection in exchange for Malcom Brown. While Tufele will need to compete for playing time, he should immediately join Jacksonville’s defensive line rotation.

Even though the Jaguars could still use some upgrades at defensive tackle, the group looks better than it did at the end of the 2020 season, and if Tufele plays up to his potential, the unit should definitely rank higher than 30th against the run.

Next. Jaguars post-draft running back rankings. dark