JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A day after landing Clemson’s most dynamic offensive playmakers, the Jacksonville Jaguars turned their attention to the other side of the ball.
The Jaguars selected Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell with the first pick in the second round of the NFL draft Friday, adding a three-year starter to a position group that Jacksonville has invested significantly in over the past year.
Grabbing Campbell so early in the draft also raises questions about the team’s confidence in CJ Henderson, the ninth overall pick in 2020 who missed eight games as a rookie and was inconsistent when he was on the field.
The Jaguars gave Henderson a four-year, $20.5 million deal that’s fully guaranteed. They also signed Shaquill Griffin to a three-year contract worth $40 million in free agency last month, a deal that included $29 million guaranteed.
Under the NFL’s rookie slotting system, Campbell is slated to earn sign a four-year contract worth a little more than $9 million.
So that’s about $70 million committed to three cornerbacks, a head-scratching decision even though arguments could be made that NFL teams play five or more defensive back about 60% of the time.
The 6-foot-1, 193-pound Campbell led Georgia with five pass breakups in 10 starts last season. He also had 29 tackles, including 2½ for loss, and an interception.
He adds to Jacksonville’s draft haul that includes former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne. Both were formally introduced Friday.
Jacksonville has two more picks Friday: Nos. 45 (second round) and 65 (third). Safety, defensive tackle and pass rusher are other areas of need.
The Jaguars had their worst defense in franchise history last season, setting team records for points and yards allowed. They ranked 31st in the league in total defense and scoring.
Coach Urban Meyer hired longtime defensive line coach Joe Cullen as his coordinator and tasked him with switching to a 3-4 scheme and getting the most out of defenders like Josh Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson and Myles Jack.
Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke took significant steps to address the defense in free agency, signing Griffin, safety Rayshawn Jenkins and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris to contracts totaling nearly $100 million. They also traded for defensive tackle Malcom Brown.