USC had just one player taken through the first two days of the 2021 NFL Draft. Jacksonville kicked off Day 3 with a Trojan.
The Jaguars selected USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele with the 106th overall pick of the draft Saturday in Cleveland.
Ranked 134th in Daniel Jeremiah's Top 150 prospects list, Tufele did not play in 2020 due to a COVID-19 opt out. When he did participate previously, Tufele was excellent, earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2019, a season in which he displayed a motor with plenty of energy as a pass rusher for the Trojans. Tufele preceded that campaign with a second-team All-Pac-12 year in 2018, playing in all 12 games.
Tufele is the latest in a collection of defensive picks for the Jaguars, who have now added four defensive linemen via free agency and the draft. He also fills a need Jacksonville thought it was addressing when it had an agreement to bring Tyson Alualu back to Duval County, only for Alualu to allow second thoughts to convince him to stay in Pittsburgh.
Jacksonville didn't end up with the No. 1 overall pick by accident. On top of subpar play when they had the ball, the Jaguars ranked among the worst in the NFL in nearly every significant defensive category. The Jaguars hope the selection of Tufele helps Jacksonville improve from its 30th-ranked rushing defense in 2020, and 31st-ranked unit in points allowed per game and sacks recorded. With Tufele arriving to provide some force on the inside, the path toward success continues for rebuilding Jacksonville.