The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t pull any surprises with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Just as everyone expected, they secured arguably the most coveted quarterback prospect of the last 20 years in Trevor Lawrence. Viewed as the top player on most draft boards, he undoubtedly earned high grades from personnel evaluators around the league.
However, the Jaguars surprisingly graded at least one other prospect on the same level as the former Clemson star. In fact, the public learned a lot about how Jacksonville stacked its draft board thanks to a behind-the-scenes video project produced by the team.
Accidental or not, the grade leak yielded some surprising results. Because based on the Jaguars’ scouting system, some fans may feel a little more skeptical (or optimistic) about how their team did in the draft.
Jacksonville made nine selections in the 2021 NFL draft
In desperate need of talent on all levels, the Jaguars put together a well-rounded draft class that included several potential stars on both sides of the ball. Lawrence has the highest upside of the group. And as long as he lives up to the hype (which seems more likely than not based on his college career), Urban Meyer should win at least a few more games than his predecessors in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars made sure to give their new quarterback some much-needed help, too. They used the 25th overall pick on Lawrence’s college teammate, Travis Etienne. A dynamic playmaker who can score from anywhere on the field, he has the speed and explosiveness to outrun defenders. Plus, the Jaguars seem committed to making him an integral part of the passing game.
On the second day of the draft, Jacksonville secured two talented defensive backs (Tyson Campbell and Andre Cisco) and a potential franchise left tackle (Walker Little). The front seven received an infusion of young talent in the fourth round—twice. Defensive lineman Jay Tufele went off the board at pick No. 106. Outside linebacker Jordan Smith arrived 15 picks later.
Jacksonville circled back to the offense with its final two selections, taking tight end Luke Farrell in the fifth round and wide receiver Jalen Camp in the sixth. Meyer and his staff certainly added some interesting new pieces to the mix with their nine draft selections.
The Jaguars let their draft grades get out on Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and other top prospects
NFL teams typically keep their draft grades secret, but the Jaguars surprisingly let some inside information slip out of their building. Ironically, we now know how Jacksonville rated certain players from this year’s rookie class because of a team-produced series called “The Hunt.”
As pointed out by Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports, the recently-released third episode included shots of Jaguars owner Shad Khan placing Lawrence’s magnet next to the team’s top slot on its draft board. Upon closer inspection, one can see Lawrence has a mark of 8.0, which would make him a rare prospect based on a traditional grading scale.
But things got much more interesting.
The video showed the Jaguars also gave an 8.0 grade to Alabama star Jaylen Waddle, who the Dolphins selected No. 6 overall. Jacksonville also had a high grade (7.5) on Miami’s other first-round pick, Jaelan Phillips.
In somewhat of a surprise, BYU quarterback Zach Wilson only received a 7.0 on the Jaguars’ grading scale. According to Jacksonville’s board, the New York Jets actually took a better player at No. 14 (offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker earned a 7.5) than they did with the second overall pick.
Which NFL teams should feel good about their draft classes?
By exposing their player grades, the Jaguars gave other NFL fans a chance to re-evaluate how their favorite team performed in the draft.
So who should feel better based on Jacksonville’s evaluation system?
The Jets scored solid value in the second round by selecting Ole Miss wideout Elijah Moore 34th overall. He earned a 6.9 grade from the Jaguars—the same mark the team assigned to Tyson Campbell, who they took one pick before Moore.
Although it’s tough to make out, it appears as though cornerback Caleb Farley earned a 7.5 mark. Considering the Tennessee Titans got him at No. 22 overall, that seems like a major steal given his talent level.
On the other hand, the Indianapolis Colts better hope Kwity Paye pans out. They passed over Farley (as well as other less risky prospects) for the athletic defensive end. However, Paye only earned a 6.8 grade from the Jaguars.
Talk about an inexact science, right?
All statistics courtesy of Sports Reference.