JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Devin Lloyd was more surprised than anyone.
The Utah linebacker had spoken to the Jaguars at the NFL scouting combine and said that he only had “slight communication” with the team after that.
When the Jaguars traded up in the first round to get Lloyd on Thursday night, picking him at the No. 27 spot, it took a little bit before it sank in.
“I wasn’t really expecting a call. But as soon as I saw it, I was ecstatic,” he said on Saturday morning. “I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ It was finally all of the emotions hitting you, so you knew at that point you were home.”
The Jaguars hope that their work in the early portion of the draft helps anchor the defense for years to come.
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Lloyd’s selection, packaged with No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker and third-round linebacker Chad Muma, give the Jaguars significant versatility on the defensive side of the ball that just hasn’t been there before. While Muma is more of a traditional linebacker, Walker and Lloyd are extremely versatile.
Lloyd said that he doesn’t fit the mold of just an in-the-box linebacker. The 6-3, 235-pound player had 111 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, eight sacks and four interceptions last season.
“One thing I define myself as is a football player, so it doesn’t really matter where you put me, I’m going to go out, I’m going to be competitive and I’m going to have success,” Lloyd said.
“I pride myself on being able to play anything that you could ask a linebacker to play, coming off the edge, rushing the passer, man coverage, zone coverage, playing the run, whatever you could ask a linebacker to do.”
Defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell’s 3-4 defense also has free agent signee Foye Oluokun at linebacker. The additions of those three players will afford numerous looks from the defense. Walker said that he wants to play the edge and rush the passer, but he can also play tackle. Lloyd is a Swiss-Army-knife-type of player who should do a bit of everything for the Jaguars.
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Pederson reiterated what he said about Walker when talking about Lloyd — the Jaguars will know much more about where those draftees are best suited to play once they get in the building and on the field.
“Again, it kind of goes back to let’s get him in here,” Pederson said. “Let’s get him caught up, let’s get him learning the playbook right, let’s get him around the teammates and get going, and then we can begin to kind of shape a plan down the road as we go with guys like Devin and obviously with Travon and the others.”
Lloyd, like top overall pick Walker, comes from a military family, a background that he said was significant in his upbringing.
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“My mother and father were in the military. They served in the Navy. My dad did 30 years, just retired a little over a year ago. My mom did 10, would have done more but she had me, so she had to get out because of that,” he said.
“But they have done so much for me just as far as the values they have instilled in me, teaching me the right things, teaching me to be a good person, but they’re also teaching me about self-discipline and really working for what you want to go get. They always instill confidence in me, telling me that I can do anything I put my mind to, so I’m just grateful to have them in my life.”
Lloyd’s mother, Ronyta, said that she gave him one suggestion on draft night.
He gladly obliged.
“I just told Devin to make sure he picked up [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell off the floor. I didn’t know he was going to pick him up like that,” she said. “I just wanted to see if he could.”
For Jaguars owner Shad Khan, the early portion of the draft had him in a positive mood.
Khan said that Jacksonville’s struggles with draft success have been notable and something had to change. He said Baalke and Pederson have done very well with the collaborative process in their time together. This time, Khan said, it feels different to him.
“Our record has not been good drafting, especially in the early rounds and how do we get better. And really the answer is basically two words: collaboration and transparency,” he said.
“Obviously, time will tell, but definitely you can’t be doing the same thing over again expecting different results. We are doing something very different, and it started from day one. I can tell you, I feel fabulous, and I think we’ve had a really great last couple of days I think as an organization.”