Throughout history, the SEC has been known for churning out prospects year in and year out. One area that it has consistently produced talent is in the secondary. The 2021 draft was no different as the first two defensive players in the draft both came from secondaries in the SEC when former South Carolina and Alabama cornerbacks Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II were selected with back-to-back selections.
The trend continued right from the start of the second day of the draft as the Jacksonville Jaguars selected former Georgia corner Tyson Campbell. The trend of the first draft of Urban Meyer was to select former highly touted recruits that played at big programs. Campbell checked all of the requisite boxes as he was teammates with Surtain II at powerhouse American Heritage High School where both were the top two cornerbacks of the 2018 recruiting cycle.
Going in their different directions for college, Campbell elected to sign with Georgia and immediately became a starter upon his arrival to Athens. A rocked up and physical press-man corner, Campbell’s career arc at Georgia was one that has mixed reviews. During his three-year career, he collected one interception and 10 pass breakups. Best described as toolsy and oozing potential, he’s still attempting to become the sum of his parts.
The matchup against Tennessee provides a full experience of the positives and negatives associated with Campbell’s game, but also the potential that he displays throughout the contest. Campbell has all of the ingredients to eventually become a starter and the term “high ceiling” will frequently be mentioned when talking about him. Small flashes of it were seen during his final season at Georgia, but putting it all together to gauge the final product is still an outcome that's to be determined.
Using the 33rd overall pick on the former Georgia standout created an interesting logjam at the position for Jacksonville. During the early stages of free agency, the team signed Shaquill Griffin to a three-year, $44.5 million deal. His $14.8 million yearly average ranks him seventh among all cornerbacks. Receiving that type of money assures him of being a starter on the perimeter.
Last year, the team selected Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson with the ninth overall pick. After a promising start to the season, he tapered off as he finished the season on the injured reserve list after injuring his groin. With Griffin, Henderson, and Campbell presumably the team's top three options on the depth chart, it’s likely that Campbell will be the candidate to begin his career inside at nickel.
A spot that’s mixed with competition and without a clear pecking order, Campbell has a chance to see early playing time if he’s able to digest the playbook and adjust to the increased speed of the game. Continuing on his path of clearing the potential barrier with successful performances, there’s a pathway that allows him to do so, but it’s one that will likely start inside at nickel during the early stages of his rookie deal.