The Jacksonville Jaguars are expecting big things from their 2021 draft class. After agreeing to a deal with running back Travis Etienne, the team announced they have signed cornerback Tyson Campbell and offensive lineman Walker Little. With all their rookies under contract, the Jags can focus on getting ready for the 2021 season.
Jacksonville chose Campbell with the first pick in the second round, the 33rd overall, of this year’s draft. The coaching staff can afford to bring him along slowly as they have a crowded cornerback room. The team’s brass signed Shaquill Griffin in free agency. The 2019 Pro Bowl nod will most likely start opposite sophomore C.J. Henderson. They also brought back Sidney Jones and Tre Herndon, so Campbell may not see the field right out of the gate.
Little will be in a similar position. He will probably start the offseason as the primary offensive line backup. The Stanford product tore his ACL in 2019 and opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although he hasn’t played football in almost two years, he got praised from both head coach Urban Meyer and offensive line coach George Warhop.
On one hand, Meyer says he’s excited about the 2018 First-Team All-Pac-12. Meanwhile, Warhop complimented the former Cardinal’s ability to bend and his flexibility. If that wasn’t enough, the offensive line coach said he came in as if not more prepared than any first or second-round pick he’s ever worked with. If left tackle Cam Robinson or right tackle Jawaan Taylor struggle in 2021, the coaching staff may not hesitate to see what they have in Walker.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have chanced another box ahead of training camp.
Do you remember rookie holdouts in the NFL? Nowadays, they are rare and the most significant one happened in 2016, when Los Angeles Chargers EDGE defender Joey Bosa missed four games due to a contract dispute. However, they were a big deal before 2011, as players who had not taken one snap in the pros were getting as much or more guaranteed money than established veterans.
After a lengthy lockout in 2021, the NFL and the NFL Players Association signed a new collective bargaining agreement, and rookie holdouts became a thing of the past. Now, contracts are capped and there’s not much wiggle room, that’s why the Jaguars managed to get their 2021 draft class under contract without much trouble.
Jacksonville’s rookie class hasn’t encountered many bumps on the road and is on track to contribute in 2021. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence underwent surgery on his non-throwing shoulder but didn’t suffer any setbacks during the Jaguars’ offseason program. On the other hand, he sustained a hamstring injury in the organized team activities that limited his participation in mandatory minicamp. The former Tiger should have no restrictions in training camp.
You can argue that every draft class is important. After all, the draft is a team’s principal means to replenish the roster. Nevertheless, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2021 rookie class will be key in the organization’s long-term success and after signing all of them, they now have to focus on making sure they are ready for the season opener against the Houston Texans.