Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer admits the New York Giants’ selection of Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney ‘broke our heart’ in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Thursday saw Giants general manager Dave Gettleman trade back for the first time in nine Drafts as he acquired Toney’s yards-after-catch explosiveness at No. 20 overall having paved the way for the Chicago Bears to take quarterback Justin Fields at No. 11.
Five picks later the Jaguars reunited quarterback Trevor Lawrence with former Clemson teammate and running back Travis Etienne. Having initially concealed the name of the player he had been eyeing, Meyer revealed on Saturday that it was in fact Toney.
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“[Kadarius] Toney,” Meyer told reporters. “I’ve got to know him over the last couple weeks and obviously with my connection with Coach [Dan] Mullen and those guys. I just think, if you watch him play, he’s a human highlight reel.”
When @0fficialC2N found out he was a New York Giant 😁 pic.twitter.com/FAfVXOb8fX
Toney marks the latest offensive addition in East Rutherford behind the free agency additions of wide receivers Kenny Golladay and John Ross, tight end Kyle Rudolph and running back Devontae Booker, with the Giants also due to welcome back Saquon Barkley after his season-ending injury in 2020.
The Florida receiver made 120 catches for 1,590 yards and 12 touchdowns alongside 580 rushing yards for two scores in four seasons at college.
While disappointed to miss out on the run-after-catch merchant, Meyer is relishing the opportunity to exploit Etienne’s dual-threat capabilities.
“Someone said why would you take another running back? He’s much more than a running back,” said Meyer. “He’s a slash – we did not recruit him just because he’s a running back. We probably wouldn’t have. He’s a guy that had a lot of production in the pass game at Clemson.
“He has excellent hands and he’ll be dual-trained, he’ll be a guy that we dual-train. Those guys are hard to find, but if you find one, we know how to use them. With him, I expect an instant impact.”
To the @Jaguars at No. 25: Travis Etienne, RB, [email protected]_t1 | @ClemsonFB
📺: 2021 #NFLDraft on NFLN/ESPN/ABC pic.twitter.com/Kk3ekDSUeh
With the opening pick of round two, the Jags complemented 2020 first-round cornerback CJ Henderson with Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell, before addressing their protection for Lawrence with Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little.
“I expect Tyson Campbell will be an instant impact in a lot of areas – special teams, and also rolling through the secondary in the back corner but also nickel,” continued Meyer. “Walker Little is going to push our tackles. Our tackles have to play better. I like how hard they’re working, I like their talent level, but the best thing you can do is create a little competition, and I’ve made that clear with Walker.
Syracuse safety Andre Cisco became their next pick at No. 65 in round three, followed by USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele and UAB defensive end Jordan Smith in round four, Ohio State tight end Luke Farrell in round five and Georgia Tech wide receiver Jalen Camp in round six.
“Andre Cisco is one of my favorite players on the board. He had a tough knee injury, the good thing is a very clean injury, an ACL and that was it. There’s already videotape of him training and going. He should be ready and cleared to go. You watch him when he’s healthy and it’s hard to say he’s not the best safety in the draft.
“Jay Tufele is going to be in the mix. Jordan Smith is a guy that’s not ready. I spent some time with his college coach on the phone and he agrees, but he thinks if we get this thing going, he’s just a late bloomer and then in a couple of years, you build his body up and he learns how to play, get a little more experience.
“Luke Farrell will be instant depth. The last guy, Jalen, is not an instant impact on receiver play. He’s got to learn how to play the position a little bit better, but I see him as an instant impact on special teams.”
The Jags were also busy beyond round seven, agreeing terms with Illinois receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, Southern Mississippi receiver Tim Jones, Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses, Charleston defensive tackle Kenny Randall, Georgia cornerback DJ Daniel and Louisiana Monroe cornerback Corey Straughter as undrafted free agents.
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