Free Agency Leaves Jacksonville Jaguars Draft Options Wide Open: Cornerback

CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 01: Josh Harvey-Clemons
CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 01: Josh Harvey-Clemons /

With the focus centering around offensive prospects in round one, could the Jacksonville Jaguars make a surprise pick in the NFL draft and select a cornerback?

Following the departure of Aaron Colvin in the off-season, the slot corner position looks somewhat vulnerable for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Whilst former Detroit Lion D.J. Hayden was signed during the free-agency period, there are a myriad of alternative options at the position the Jaguars could look at with the 29th overall pick in the draft. Without wasting any more time, here are the main targets the Jaguars could select in Dallas Thursday night.


Jaire Alexander – Lousiville

Due to his lack of height and skinny frame (5″10, 196lbs), Alexander is probably going to find his permanent home in the NFL at nickel. Whilst some NFL teams wouldn’t necessarily spend a first round pick on a slot corner, this is a luxury price that the Jaguars can afford to pay. Being only a few pieces away from becoming the darlings of the AFC, a solid cover-man across the middle is exactly what Jacksonville needs in order to re-establish their fearsome defense from 2017.

The Lousiville Cardinal possesses top end speed and the coverage instincts allow himself to shadow any receiver vertically or on a crossing route. A late riser on some teams’ boards, Jaire Alexander only began generating serious first-round buzz a few months ago – something which comes as a surprise when you look at the numbers from his sophomore season. Looking at his 2016 statistics alone: Alexander totaled 39 tackles, nine passes defensed and five interceptions.

Unfortunately, what could have been the start of a meteoric rise toward the top of round one was followed by only six appearances in 2017, something which will undoubtedly worry NFL front offices.

If Alexander stays healthy in the NFL, he could quickly become one of the NFL’s premier slot corners, he’s someone who will definitely be on Jacksonville’s radar when they’re on the clock.

Mike Hughes – UCF

Mike Hughes’ journey to the 2018 Draft has been far from easy. The former Tar Heel ended up playing community college football in 2016 following an incident on the UNC campus which saw him in violation of team rules. During the draft process, Hughes has remained utterly transparent with NFL scouts and executives and as such the area he is selected in should be as a reflection of his talent rather than due to off-field uncertainty.

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When it comes to talent, Hughes has plenty of it. During his one year as a starter for UCF, Hughes managed to deflect 11 passes and grab four interceptions – taking one of those for six points, on his way to helping UCF have an undefeated season. He has great natural ball skills and can excel in both man and zone coverage.

Whilst he does suffer from a lack of size, the Jaguars would be able to provide this raw talent with two of the best possible mentors in Jalen Ramsey and A.J Bouye. Given he already has solid technical ability, the chance to grow under the guidance of two pro-bowl corners would make Hughes one of the more dangerous slot corners in the league.

Given his ability to return kicks, even if Hughes wasn’t able to beat out D.J Hayden for the starting spot at nickel by week one, he would provide excellent depth in the secondary and another option for an electric special teams unit.

Isaiah Oliver – Colorado

Boy Todd Wash would have fun with this one. Whilst Olivier is probably the most unlikely to be on the board at 29, that comes with good reason. At 6’0″ and just over 200lbs, Oliver possesses the perfect blend of size and speed to excel in the Jacksonville Jaguars secondary.

Coming from a sports-orientated background, Oliver has the chance to surpass the legacy of his father (who spent five seasons in the NFL as a cornerback, and was an NCAA All-American decathlete) and his uncle (who played as a wide receiver for Missouri) by being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Oliver peaked just at the right time, posting some phenomenal numbers in 2017. Recording 12 pass break-ups and two interceptions throughout his final ten games in college. With the physical tools to match up against just about anyone, Olivier’s presence in the secondary would allow Todd Wash to use Jalen Ramsey as a cover man for any offense’s number one threat in the knowledge that both Bouye and Oliver can hold their own in outside or slot coverage.

The Skinny: 

Jacksonville really has an element of freedom with the 29th pick, but that doesn’t make it any less significant. One false step in the top end of this draft and the Jaguars may elongate their time spent on the periphery by a year or two. Given the depth at corner in this class, it would be a surprise to see the front office prioritize the cornerback position with the 29th pick. However, if they were to choose any of these three players, it would make an already vaunted defense into the ones to watch in 2018.

If you’d be interested in seeing the other potential positions the Jaguars could address in the first round, you can check those out here.