Jaguars hoping for draft perfection for all seven rounds

John Reid
Florida Times-Union
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Jaguars coach Urban Meyer continues to go through draft day rehearsals, and more are planned before Thursday night's live run in which the Jaguars are expected to select Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick.

Meyer doesn't want to run into unforeseen surprises or scenarios that could come up at any point during the three-day, seven-round draft.

To avoid it, Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke have rehearsed almost every possible scenario that could come up with their 10 picks, including five among the top 65 selections.

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Meyer is so meticulous about the team's entire draft operation that he wants to know beforehand where everyone on their staff will be seated in the draft war room. 

''I’m a control nut and an organizational nut, so I want to make sure that — I want to know where people are sitting, I want to know what camera, what we’re going to be looking at on the screens,'' Meyer said.

Yet essentially the only sure thing Meyer can expect at this point is that Lawrence is a lock to become their franchise quarterback. After that, the draft is a crapshoot. And the Jaguars draft philosophy could hinge on two aspects — drafting for need or best player available.

“I think when you look at the draft, you’re looking at values, you’re stacking the board based on the value of a player, not necessarily on need,'' Baalke said. ''If you do that, you tend to overvalue players, and [if] you do that consistently, you’re not going to be in the game long. 

''So, what we try to do is just look at the player for what he is, stack the board for what it is, and let the board speak to us on draft day. If there’s a player there in a position of need and we have it valued that way, the decision will be to go with the need.”

Jaguars coach Urban Meyer visited the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on Friday during the second round of The Players Championship.

Lots of Jaguars needs remain, but they have 10 picks

Coming off a 1-15 season in 2020, the Jaguars have their share of needs - particularly at tight end, defensive line, safety, and improving their depth on their offensive line. 

Projections have been numerous, but there is no census from the draft experts on what the Jaguars may do after they select Lawrence. With their 25th overall pick, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper has the Jaguars selecting Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney. In contrast, NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has them addressing defensive needs with the selection of TCU safety Trevon Moehrig. 

Neither Meyer nor Baalke are saying who they may select at 25th or 33rd overall in the second round, but they have to hit on those picks, along No. 45 overall in the second and No. 65 in the third.

“Absolutely. I see that we not only have to make those picks, [but] we have to add immediate value to our team,'' Meyer said. ''That’s the way Trent, myself and our coaching staff look at it. That’s how important these picks are, so we’re looking at these picks to make an instant impact, especially those first four picks.”

Despite the preparations, it's still going to be a night of significant adjustment for Meyer.

He admits during his 17 years as a college coach, he always pursued need as a top priority in recruiting. But he's had to lean on Baalke and some of his experienced assistants to get a better understanding of the NFL Draft process.

''The whole idea of value is completely new to me,'' Meyer said. ''That’s something I relied on [Defensive Coordinator] Joe Cullen and [Offensive Coordinator Darrell] Bevell as coordinators and [Special Teams Coordinator] Brian Schneider and obviously Trent and his staff. I’m a quick learner. I’ve been working at this now for about three months and the last three to four weeks, this has been our entire life in that room watching video, stacking the board. So, trusting the board is key.''

For Baalke, a veteran of more than 20 years in the NFL, the key he says is trusting their draft board. They have spent months watching draft prospects on film, attending Pro Days to evaluate and interview, and even having Zoom sessions with a few draft targets like Lawrence.   

But now decision time is near, and Baalke says their plan has to be fluid.

''You never know what’s going to happen,'' Baalke said. ''If we’re in a situation at 25 where the board says let’s trade back two or three spots, and that becomes available, that’s an option, you pursue it. If not, you make the pick and you move on to the next pick.''

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