The 2021 NFL Draft was the 86th annual meeting of National Football League (NFL)

The 2021 NFL Draft season is upon us and the first wave of free agency is now over. Now, scouts, coaches, and general managers will hit the road as all eyes will turn to the draft..2021 NFL Draft Profiles: How Would Oregon’s Jevon Holland Fit With the Jaguars? Would Jevon Holland help fill several big holes on the Jaguars’ defense enough to the point where they should consider him at No. 45 overall?

Among the 32 teams building their rosters to compete for the next Lombardi Trophy is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hold 10 picks in this season’s draft — including the No. 1 overall pick. The Jaguars are entering a new era under Head Coach Urban Meyer, and the 2021 draft will serve as a catalyst to the Jaguars’ rebuild moving into the future.

As we march closer and closer to April’s draft, we will look at individual draft prospects and how they would potentially fit with the Jaguars. Instead of looking at any negatives, we are going to look at what the players do well and if they could match what the Jaguars need at the specific role or position.

In this edition, we review Oregon safety Jevon Holland to determine if the ball-hawking defensive back fits what the Jaguars are currently missing in their secondary.
Overview

The son of a CFL defensive back, Jevon Holland was a four-star prospect out of high school and received offers from Notre Dame, Washington, and UCLA, but ultimately he decided on Oregon and quickly became an impact contributor for the Ducks’ defense.

Holland played 13 games as a true freshman, recording 44 tackles, 11 pass deflections, and a team-leading five interceptions. Holland was able to make an immediate impact in Oregon’s defense thanks to his ball skills and pro-ready size (6-foot-1, 196 pounds).

Holland opted out of the 2020 season, so the 2019 season was his last on the field for Oregon. He once again put forth a productive year, starting 14 games and recording 66 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, eight pass deflections, and four interceptions, which once again led the team. He was named all-conference honorable mention as a result.
What Jevon Holland Does Well

The name of Jevon Holland’s game is versatility. He was deployed in a number of roles in Oregon’s 3-3-5 defense during his two seasons on campus, playing predominantly as a free safety in 2018 before moving to the slot defender position in 2019. Oregon trusted him to play these multiple roles for a few clear reasons, each of which will help him in his translation to the NFL.

Holland’s read and react skills are a big asset to the defense no matter what alignment he is in. In coverage, he shows terrific instincts and spatial awareness. His recognition and understanding of route concepts shows up clearly when he is able to make early breaks on routes and run routes for receivers. Watch him make an interception against Auburn in 2019 to see his ability to diagnose a route and the offense’s attack plan and thus put himself in a position to make the play.

Holland’s instincts show up in a big way as a run defender as well. He is able to flow to the ball as a play-side defender in the box and takes good pursuit angles. He closes with a violent and physical nature as well, rarely backing down from contact and frequently showing the strength and pop in his game to bring down ball carriers with explosive hits. As a back-side run defender, Holland again takes productive and efficient angles and gives great effort.

Where Holland will most impress at the NFL level is likely in his ability to make plays on the ball. While he isn’t the most explosive or dynamic athlete, he had the required athleticism and fluidity to frequently make offenses pay for testing him. Holland shows terrific ball skills and dominant ability at the catch point, using his length and instincts to make early plays on the ball and fight off even the most physical of receivers for the football.

The fact that Holland ended his two-year career with 19 pass deflections and nine interceptions says it all about his ball skills. He is a natural receiver at the catch point and has the traits and competitive to outwork most receivers for the football, which equates to him making a great deal of impact plays in coverage.
How Jevon Holland Would Fit With the Jaguars

I didn’t think there would be a safety that would be a better pure fit for the Jaguars’ defense than Trevon Moehrig, but Holland just may take that crown from him. Moehrig takes the cake as a deep safety due to his range, but Holland is the type of do-it-all safety the Jaguars don’t presently have.

When watching Holland, it isn’t hard to envision how he would look in a defense that utilizes multiple safeties. That is exactly the type of defense Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen is bringing over from Baltimore, and Holland would give the Jaguars a safety who can play from essentially any alignment in the secondary. For a defense that relies on giving multiple looks and keeping offenses guessing, a defender like Holland fits right in.

Then there is the fact that the Jaguars are currently searching for answers when it comes to the slot position. They re-signed cornerback Tre Herndon, who impressed as a nickel defender in 2020, but none of their three top cornerbacks (CJ Henderson, Shaquill Griffin, and Sidney Jones) are better fits outside than on the inside.

Holland, however, thrives as a slot defender. He will struggle with shifty receivers who can take advantage of his lack of explosiveness, but his length, instincts, physicality, and smart understanding of passing concepts makes him an ideal candidate for the slot. Add in his run defense and potential as a blitzer, and Holland is a perfect fit for the Jaguars.
Verdict

In a safety class without a lot of star power, Jevon Holland’s tape was a fun surprise. I had seen the hype he had received as a slot defender and ball-hawk, and his play on the field matches the hype considerably. He does a lot of things to suggest he can thrive at the NFL level, especially in a defense like the Jaguars’.

Holland’s lack of top-tier play speed knocks him out of considering for the first-round, but he has the tape to more than justify a selection at No. 45. With his production and versatile skill set, it is hard to imagine he lasts past the 50s, so No. 45 is likely the sweet spot to draft him. a

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