Urban Meyer: Jaguars must 'trust' draft board, avoid chasing players to fill needs

Urban Meyer rules the roost in Jacksonville. This is an undisputed reality among the Jaguars’ new staff, front office, and coaches.

The first-time NFL coach has the ability, as Bill Parcells once famously put it, to shop for his own groceries. If Meyer covets a player as a coach, he can make those wishes come true.

Despite owning power few NFL coaches wield, Meyer noted Wednesday that sometimes he shouldn’t always get his way. Meyer said he must lean on GM Trent Baalke and the rest of his staff to steer him towards the best players, even if his coaching instinct tells him to fill gaps at certain positions.

“I find myself always looking at need and that’s where you have to be cautious, you start chasing players,” Meyer said, via the team’s official transcript. “The whole idea of value is completely new to me. That’s something I relied on [defensive coordinator] Joe Cullen and [offensive coordinator Darrell] Bevell as coordinators and [special teams coordinator] Brian Schneider, who has extensive experience in the NFL, 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. I’m at the point almost there that I will trust it, but as a coach, I can see where [you can say], ‘We need this, we need this, and we need this’ and that’s where you get yourself in trouble. It’s been a great learning experience for me and to answer your question, I’m nervous. I’m nervous about everything, I think you know that.”

In life, sometimes, the hardest step is admitting what we don’t know. In his transition to the NFL, Meyer hasn’t shied away from the fact that there are plenty of aspects of managing a pro squad that he’s unfamiliar with and must lean on his support staff. Those should be encouraging comments to Jags fans. If Meyer follows through with his trust in the team’s board and doesn’t let the coach-greed become a priority, it will benefit the franchise in the long run.

It’s also easier for Meyer to “trust the board” when A) the No. 1 overall selection is essentially already made (quarterback Trevor Lawrence) and B) there are so many roster holes to fill, odds are the best player available also plugs a need.

With four picks in the top 65 of the 2021 draft, Meyer knows the iron is hot to snag impact players who can immediately produce.

“I see that we not only have to make those picks, [but] we have to add immediate value to our team,” he 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 instant impact, especially those first four picks.”

After spending his entire coaching career recruiting players, the draft is a different beast for Meyer to tackle, making the pre-draft preparation all the more critical in Jacksonville.

“We’ve had a couple dry runs,” Meyer said. “We’re going to have a couple dry runs again. 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. And Trent has been great, and this is the first time this personnel in this organization will do it. So, we’re going to be on point. And so, at this point, we’ve had a couple dry runs, but we’re going to go in great detail early next week about exactly how it takes place. So, I’ll feel much better after that.”

Trevor Lawrence is on his way to Jacksonville. What Meyer and his crew do with the rest of the early selections will plot the course for the Jags turnaround.

Want to create your own mock for the 2021 NFL Draft? Check out PFF’s draft simulator to play out countless scenarios for every team spanning all seven rounds.

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