In exercising the 25th pick in the draft (from the Rams due to the Jalen Ramsey trade), the Jaguars paired Clemson running back Travis Etienne with Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the first round of the 2021 draft. Coach Urban Meyer would have preferred giving Lawrence a different weapon.
In a Saturday press conference, Meyer admitted that seeing Florida receiver Kadarius Toney come off the board at No. 20 broke Meyer’s heart.
“I’ve got to know him over the last couple weeks and obviously with my connection with Coach Mullen and those guys,” Meyer said. “I just think, if you watch him play, he’s a human highlight reel.”
Meyer explained earlier in the session that the team will use Etienne as both a runner and receiver. Would that have been the case with Toney?
“We talked about that,” Meyer said. “He can’t really run the ball.”
Coaches rarely express public regret about the guys they didn’t get. It could make the guys they got feel less wanted. Of course, that could motivate the player whom the coach got to try even harder to prove he should have been the pick, even if the other guy was on the board.
Also, talking about any players whose contractual rights belong to another team represents the first step on the slippery slope of tampering. Even though the league enforces the rule rarely and haphazardly, there’s always a chance that the league office will choose to make an example of someone.
While Meyer’s comments likely didn’t go far enough to cause a major problem, the Giants may not be thrilled that another coach is openly coveting his neighbor’s contractual property. Given the juice held by Giants co-owner John Mara within the broader NFL power structure, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Meyer gets a phone call from the 212 area code with a friendly reminder that the best practice is to never talk about a player who belongs to another team.