A 2015 Jaguars draft preview may give you better insight into what the Jacksonville Jaguars could be doing starting tomorrow night over what a mock draft tells you. So, we’ll take it round by round here, a day before each draft period. The 2015 NFL Draft is separated into three days, with the first night featuring only the first round, the second night featuring rounds two and three, and the third night featuring rounds four through seven. Obviously the first round draws the most attention, but a quality player can be taken anywhere in the draft and each year a team finds players that can be impactful, regardless of their draft position.
Before we get to those later rounds, we’ll focus on the first one. This 2015 Jaguars draft preview is only about round one and the options available to the Jaguars. From what position they may pick to what positions they’ll avoid, we’re going to break it down for you.
Let’s dive in.
Nov 30, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (6) during a game against the Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida State won 37-7. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Option 1) Draft a Pass Rusher
The top of the 2015 NFL Draft is loaded with premium pass rushing talent. While Shane Ray and Randy Gregory may fall due to their recent brushes with marijuana (some of the worst timing in the build up to the draft, ever) there are still plenty of great players to consider. Dante Fowler Jr. and Vic Beasley head up the list with the impressive physical specimen that is Alvin “Bud” Dupree rounding out the top three in my mind.
Dante Fowler and Vic Beasley seem like the most likely pass rushers to be chosen. The Jaguars need an edge rusher with proven success at the college level and both Fowler and Beasley have that. Both of them are also physically impressive players and gifted athletes. Right now, it’s a bit undecided who will be chosen by the Jaguars if they decide to go after a pass rusher, but it looks like it will be one of those two based on past success and upside.
The pass rusher taken is looking to fill the LEO role in Gus Bradley’s defense, providing consistent pressure to opposing quarterbacks. The Jaguars had pretty sack numbers in 2014, but they failed to get pressure consistently. Pressure makes plays more than sacks do and it is key to alleviating the pressure on the secondary in a pass heavy NFL. Whether a defensive end or an outside linebacker at the college level, the Jaguars will be looking for a player who can do that dedicated role.
Option 1a) Draft Leonard Williams
If the Jaguars don’t go after an edge rusher in the first round, it may be because Leonard Williams is still available. Williams is the best player in the draft, hands down. He is a defensive tackle/end who can generate pressure from interior rushing at the three technique. He is also able to be a versatile player along a defensive line that uses guys in rotation at different positions often. Guys like Jared Odrick and Tyson Alualu are valued by the coaching staff for their abilities to be versatile players at defensive end or defensive tackle.
Williams can come in and instantly make the defensive line better for the Jaguars because of who he is as a unique player.
This is not to say that the Jaguars should consider drafting anybody else at third overall along the defensive line. The next best defensive tackle in the draft is Danny Shelton and as good as he is (and I think he can be something special) he is not a pass rusher from the inside like Williams is. Williams is uniquely versatile and a unique threat from the inside in this year’s draft. Because of his projected dominance, he is the only other defensive lineman worth considering who is not a pass rusher at this spot.
Next: Or go Wide Receiver