Mock drafts are never shy on containing a surprise or two, but one new mock has the Jacksonville Jaguars splurging on defense.
The roster needs for the Jacksonville Jaguars have been well-known since the end of last season, and the areas of improvement have become even more clear since the start of free agency. Most notably, the Jaguars have to bolster the talent on the offensive side of the ball.
With it being no secret the holes in need of reinforcement on offense, the majority of mocks published on various sites have rightly had Jacksonville going after a tight end, offensive guard, quarterback, and wide receiver in one form or another in the early rounds of the NFL draft.
But one lengthy mock draft, put together by Chad Reuter of NFL.com, has the Jaguars loading up on the team’s strongest unit, the defense, in the early slate of rounds. In Reuter’s five-round mock draft, that can be viewed here, the Jaguars use their first three picks on defensive players (along with taking a running back in the fourth round and the team has no fifth-round selection due to the conditional pick in the trade with the Buffalo Bills for Marcell Dareus, to round out the mock).
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Starting in the first round with pick 29, Reuter has Jacksonville taking linebacker Rashaan Evans from Alabama. Along with Evans, the team doubles up with linebacker Shaquem Griffin from UCF in the third round.
The linebacker group is in demand of bodies and a starter alongside Telvin Smith and Myles Jack, and I am firmly on board with Griffin making his way to Jacksonville, but two out of the first three picks feels like overkill, especially considering the more pressing needs on offense.
In round two, the Jaguars take cornerback J.C. Jackson out of Maryland. Again, the team has a hole to fill at nickel with the loss of Aaron Colvin in free agency, but the front office just signed D.J. Hayden to a three-year deal to play that role. Now given Hayden has a lot to prove, but spending a second-round pick on a corner after inking Hayden for $19 million doesn’t feel like a worthwhile move.
With only one quarterback currently on the roster, a mostly unproven crop of wide receivers, and underwhelming production on the inside of the offensive line, the value in the draft for the Jacksonville Jaguars obviously appears to be on offensive prospects. But could the Jaguars surprise everyone on draft weekend by strengthening an already menacing defense?