4 Jaguars rookies that could push veterans in 2021

Urban Meyer, head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field (Imagn Images photo pool)
Urban Meyer, head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field (Imagn Images photo pool) /
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Jacksonville Jaguars
Head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars Urban Meyer (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

Just like any other NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars underwent changes this offseason. Nowadays, it’s really hard to keep a core of playmakers together thanks to the salary cap and free agency. The New England Patriots were able to compete in the last two decades because they paid below-the-market rates by selling players on the fact that they could win a Super Bowl. However, other than quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, they were in constant influx.

So how does a team remain competitive without the chance to retain core players? By drafting well. The better you are at identifying talent in the selection meeting, the higher your chances of assembling a contender are. Free agency helps, but buying an All-Star squad isn’t a good recipe for sustained success.

Think of the Jags in the 2010s. They went into a shopping spree and signed defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye, defensive end Oliver Vernon, and defensive tackle Malik Jackson in a span of a few years. What do they have to show for all those hefty contracts? One winning season. Had they been better at drafting early in the decade, they wouldn’t have needed to take out the checkbook to acquire difference-makers.

The Jaguars want to buck the trend this season. They are counting on their draft class to have an impact. Some of their rookies will start right away while others will progressively earn a bigger role. Nevertheless, Jacksonville’s future success will depend on how their first-year players fare this upcoming season. In particular, these four rookies could push veterans for playing time in 2021.