2016 NFL Draft: Jacksonville Jaguars should focus on best player available


The Jacksonville Jaguars need a lot of help on defense going forward, but that shouldn’t stop them from picking the best players available, regardless of position, in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Fixing the defense is priority number one for the Jacksonville Jaguars as they gear up to be true contenders in 2016. The defense has been underwhelming ever since head coach Gus Bradley – himself a defensive coordinator before joining as head coach – arrived.

With former DC Bob Babich fired and the hunt for a better coordinator and talent well underway, it’s easy to get caught up in the singular focus of fixing the defense.

General manager Dave Caldwell would do well to keep his eyes open and pick up the best player available in the 2016 NFL Draft, regardless of position.

The key here is that the Jacksonville Jaguars can fix the defense through both free agency and the draft. It doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be all about the rookies coming in and playing lights out to solve the Jags’ problems. There is a serious need for veteran leadership and consistency on defense.

With a mountain of cap space to spend (literally), the Jags can do pretty much whatever they want personnel-wise. That includes getting a big name in the secondary and quality players for the linebacking corps and defensive line.

Caldwell will certainly be looking to fill some holes with the best players at specific positions, but there’s a need for quality talent across this team and he shouldn’t shy away from selecting the best player available in the 2016 NFL Draft if he’s available to be picked.

Fortunately for Caldwell and the Jags, the top of the draft seems to be heavy on defensive studs. Whether it’s a secondary player like Jalen Ramsey out of Florida State or linebacker Jaylon Smith from Notre Dame, there’s going to be someone who can contribute on defense who could arguably be the best on the board when the Jags pick at number five overall.

It’s the later rounds where the strategy of drafting best player available may pay off best. The Jags can use depth at every position and they no longer desperately need a third or fourth round rookie to start for them because of a lack of viable options. Caldwell can afford to be selective and pick the best of the bunch.

The Jags were lauded for their impressive 2015 draft in part because they focused on getting quality players regardless of position that had somehow slid down the draft rounds.

Doing so again would be a smart move. There’s a justified emphasis on fixing the defense this offseason, but the Jags don’t have to do it all in the 2016 NFL Draft. There’s room to maneuver and there’s money to bring in people who can instantly improve this team.

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Leave the draft to getting the best player available and help this team build for the next decade like the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Baltimore Ravens routinely do.