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The 2021 NFL draft will likely always be remembered by Jaguars fans as the class that featured first overall pick quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Clemson product was considered a generational prospect when the Jags drafted him, and though he had a frustrating rookie season, there’s still a lot of hope surrounding his future.
However, while the Lawrence pick was a no-brainer and one that should put the franchise in a good position in the future, the rest of the class was also important as the team tries to build around him.
That’s where Jacksonville faltered a bit. Travis Etienne, the team’s other first-round pick, missed his entire rookie season with a Lisfranc fracture. He remains a largely unknown commodity, as does much of the rest of the class. Second-round pick Tyson Campbell started at cornerback for most of the season, and while he improved quite a bit, he was really the only major contributor other than Lawrence in this draft class.
Third-round picks Walker Little and Andre Cisco saw minimal action earlier in the season but started the last several games and played well, while Jay Tufele and Jordan Smith barely saw the field. Luke Farrell wasn’t much more than a reserve blocking tight end, and Jalen Camp didn’t even make the final roster.
Given this, it shouldn’t be a major surprise that the Jags’ class ranks just 30th in the league after one season, according to Pro Football Focus. Here’s the justification for that ranking.
Why they’re ranked here: This Jaguars rookie class was always going to live and die with Trevor Lawrence‘s performance. There are plenty of excuses to be made for Lawrence, but the results were far from impressive. Lawrence finished the season ranked 27th among 32 qualifying quarterbacks in PFF grade, and Jacksonville didn’t get any production from their other first-round pick Travis Etienne following his preseason injury.
How their top pick fared: Lawrence had perhaps the best moments and throws of any rookie quarterback this season, and he already operates like a veteran in the pocket. Lawrence took sacks on pressured dropbacks at one of the lowest rates in the NFL this season, but the first overall pick just made too many mistakes, as he often forced the ball downfield and into non-existent windows. His 26 turnover-worthy plays were tied for third-most in the league.
Best value pick: Andre Cisco played 25 defensive snaps for the first time in Week 15, and he would go on to start each of the team’s final three games. It’s a small sample, but Cisco produced two PFF grades above 75.0 in those three starts. His playmaking ability at safety should earn him a starting role in the defense next season.
The breakdown of Lawrence’s play here is pretty fair. He did a lot of things well that you look for from young quarterbacks coming into the league, but his production was limited by some poor decision-making and even poorer play from his receiving corps.
The rest of the class is where most of the questions come from, but the Jags will hope Campbell continues to develop into one of the league’s more reliable corners and that players like Little and Cisco ultimately become starting-caliber players.