The Jacksonville Jaguars already have an elite defense, but they could still keep an eye towards the future in the 2018 NFL Draft.
After the 2017 NFL season, the Jacksonville Jaguars moved into the offseason with one key goal – improve the offense.
The defense played at a spectacular level and absolutely throttled people in the passing game. The running game struggled early on in the season but improved significantly over the last 10 games, thanks partly to the addition of Marcell Dareus.
The defense looks set up to dominate again in 2018 so naturally the focus to improve shifted this year to the offense and Blake Bortles. Not surprisingly, we’ve seen that reflected in a majority of mock drafts, with the Jaguars almost exclusively taking an offensive player – tight end, wide receiver, offensive line, or even quarterback.
In his most recent mock draft over at The Ringer, Danny Kelly makes some good points during his selection for the Jacksonville Jaguars:
"29. Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Taven Bryan, FloridaThere aren’t too many holes in Jacksonville’s defense, but down the line, it’s going to be tough for the team to hang onto all its high-priced linemen (Malik Jackson, Marcell Dareus, and Calais Campbell will count a combined $41 million against the cap in 2019). Bryan’s raw, and he’s knocked off balance too often, but he does possess something you really can’t teach: elite, first-step explosiveness. With a little seasoning, the former Florida star could develop into a productive interior rusher and would give Jacksonville some options when tough cap decisions must be made."
Kelly isn’t the only analysts leaning this way – Josh Norris of Rotoworld has also suggested the Jaguars keep an eye on the defensive line long term:
"29. Jacksonville Jaguars – DL Maurice Hurst, Michigan – More talent for the Jaguars front? Yep, and it’s because teams look multiple years ahead. Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell’s contracts are huge, and it might be difficult to roster both beyond 2018."
The Jaguars do have a ridiculous amount of money tied up in the defensive line, specifically defensive tackle. They can’t keep all three of the guys mentioned above (Jackson, Dareus, and Campbell) past 2018 unless they restructure their deals. They still have to keep some cap space to work out extension for Yannick Ngakoue, Myles Jack, and Jalen Ramsey.
Someone like Bryan or Hurst would help some in the short term by adding depth and letting the Jaguars rotate in fresh legs throughout the game, but they would also help solve long term cap problems.