Jaguars still waiting for 2021 draft class to contribute

A group of Jacksonville Jaguars players go through stretching drills. (Imagn Images photo pool)
A group of Jacksonville Jaguars players go through stretching drills. (Imagn Images photo pool) /

There’s no doubt quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the real deal. He’s shown tangible growth in the first two games of the 2021 season. The pocket awareness is there. He isn’t fazed by the pass rush, and he’s improving on his decision-making. But what about the rest of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2021 draft class?

Keep in mind that the Jags had nine selections in this year’s selection meeting. They didn’t need to hit on all of them but as long as they came out of the draft with a handful of difference-makers, the team would have a foundation to build upon. However, that hasn’t been the case and Jacksonville isn’t getting much production from most of their rookies.

That could change at any time, but the early results are far from promising. Here’s how the Jaguars’ 2021 draft class has fared so far.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a keeper in Trevor Lawrence.

At first sight, it’s hard to get excited about Trevor Lawrence‘s stat line. After throwing three passing touchdowns in the season opener, he’s had just two in the last three weeks.  On the other hand, he’s making all the throws you expect from a franchise quarterback. Moreover, he had no turnovers against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football. Although he didn’t have a passing touchdown, he had a rushing one and had no trouble moving the ball throughout most of the game.

Lawrence will continue to make mistakes, and he will have more bad games. But the Jaguars’ brass should be encouraged with his growth. Keep in mind that this will be a developmental year for both the team and the rookie passer. Jacksonville won’t win many games this season but as long as Lawrence keeps improving, there’s a reason for optimism.

The rest of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ draft class isn’t making an impact.

Ok, Lawrence is living up to expectations but what about the rest of the Jags’ rookie class? Running back Travis Etienne suffered a Lisfranc injury before the start of the season so the Jaguars will have to wait until next year to see what he can do on the field. Tyson Campbell has become the starting cornerback opposite Shaquill Griffin. The former Georgia Bulldog has started three games and appeared in 77 percent of the team’s total snaps on defense. However, the results have been mixed. Per Pro Football Focus, he’s given up 21 receptions for 345 yards on 26 targets.

Moreover, Campbell allowed an alarming 80.8 completion rate. While it’s too early to question the Jags’ decision to draft him 33rd overall, the early returns have been great. Then again, the cornerback is getting plenty of playing time. The same can’t be said about most of Jacksonville’s rookies. Offensive tackle Walker Little was inactive in the first two games of the season and was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list one day after the Jaguars’ Week 2 matchup against the Denver Broncos.

Safety Andre Cisco‘s playing time has progressively gone down, After playing 23 defensive snaps in the season opener, he appeared in 18 in Week 2 and hasn’t had a single one in the last two weeks. The Syracuse product has been relegated to special teams duties. Tight end Luke Farrell also has been active every single game but has been a non-factor, hauling in three receptions on four targets for 12 yards. Defensive tackle Jay Tufele and edge rusher Jordan Smith haven’t been active a single time, and it’s uncertain when they will make their 2021 debut.

The Jaguars’ 2021 draft class could contribute down the road. After all, not all rookies make an impact right out of the game and some take a bit of time to develop. However, their lack of impact early in the season is one of the reasons why the team is off to a 0-4 start. That has to change.

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