Seriously, Urban Meyer Won’t Fail the 2021 NFL Draft

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Urban Meyer
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MARCH 12: New Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer speaks to the media during the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 12, 2021, in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer shifts between being very aggressive and surprisingly passive. Meyer’s massive hiring spree shows his dedication to the Jaguars becoming a coach-fueled organization. However, his open dislike of free agency’s focus on money demonstrates his lack of experience in many areas. His conflicting nature is worrisome, but I doubt he will mess up the entire 2021 draft.

Seriously, Urban Meyer Won’t Fail the 2021 NFL Draft

Urban Meyer’s Major Coaching Hires

Joe Cullen (the Jaguars’ new Defensive Coordinator) will use multiple defensive lines throughout the 2021 season. This means Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson will play as 3-4 linebackers who may put their hands in the dirt instead of 3-4 linebackers who are forced to learn a new position at the NFL level. This also means that interior linemen will be used to keep 3-4 linebackers and middle linebackers open enough to make big plays.

Darrell Bevell (the Jaguars’ new Offensive Coordinator) and Brian Schottenheimer (the team’s new Passing Game Coordinator) are associated with two historically prolific quarterbacks: Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford. The hiring of these offensive minds reaffirms Meyer’s commitment to excellence at every level of the organization. Urban Meyer’s recruiting of Bevell and Schottenheimer also shows that Trevor Lawrence’s development will be a very high priority.

Urban Meyer’s First Free Agency Period

Urban Meyer’s open dissatisfaction with the free agency process was disappointing. Owner Shad Khan hired Meyer in mid-January. After this, Meyer and Khan promoted interim-General Manager Trent Baalke to full-time status. This gave Meyer about two months to learn the free agency process from Baalke or give the veteran GM full control of it. Instead, Meyer criticized the inability to have dinner with free agents or speak with them directly. 

This resulted in Jacksonville approaching free agency as a way to address the bottom third of the roster and acquire players who are familiar with Urban Meyer and his staff. The biggest signing of the cycle, Shaquill Griffin, was a Seahawk from 2017 to 2020. This meant that he spent at least one year with both Bevell and Schottenheimer in Seattle. While they are offensive coaches and Griffin is a cornerback, it shows that Meyer relied heavily on his assistants’ ability to recruit former players and vouch for their playing ability.

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What Should We Expect From The Draft?

Unlike free agents, future draft picks respond to every phone call and interview request. Also, draft picks are required to report to the teams that draft them. Urban Meyer will enjoy this method of player acquisition much more than free agency. This means that he will probably experience much more success in it as well. His top three coaching hires (Bevell, Cullen, and Schottenheimer) come from organizations that usually pair franchise quarterbacks with productive defenses instead of loaded offenses. 

Recognizing this formula means that we should expect Jacksonville to draft a defender with the 25th overall pick and at least one as a second-round pick. Also, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Jaguars focus on getting a tight end or pass-catching running back to help Trevor Lawrence adjust to the NFL level at a faster pace. 

These conclusions are obvious to Jaguars fans who are paying extremely close attention to the 2021 off-season. However, I believe everyone will be surprised at the speed and talent Urban Meyer is able to pick up in every round of the draft. I also think that the undrafted free agent cycle will result in Meyer grabbing (read: stealing) a former Buckeye who managed to slip through all seven rounds. 

I’ve been extremely critical of Urban Meyer’s performance as an administrator since being hired. Despite this, I’m willing to acknowledge that a rookie head coach/quarterback combo shouldn’t be expected to win a Super Bowl anytime soon. The 2021 NFL Draft will be a good showing for Meyer. As such, Meyer’s reliance on his assistant coaches’ scouting ability will end up being a surprising benefit here. 

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