Will the Jaguars draft the best player available?
By David Levin
After a flurry of moves to add depth to both the offensive line and the running back position, have the Jacksonville Jaguars changed their draft strategy for later this month?
It’s three words that could determine how the front office of the Jacksonville Jaguars plan to attack the NFL Draft in less than three weeks in Nashville.
Best Player Available.
Many fans don’t want to hear those words after the team used that kind of strategy in 2018 to plan for the future and got little return from first-round pick Taven Bryan. But the moves to strengthen the offensive line and add depth, as well as signing two running backs in the last 10 days could have changed the team’s focus on Draft night.
More from Jacksonville Jaguars News
- Report: Jacksonville Jaguars ready to use franchise tag to keep Evan Engram if needed
- Antonio Johnson a trendy pick for Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 24 in 2023 NFL Draft
- Jacksonville Jaguars have a rat problem, get poor marks in NFLPA team report card
- Jaguars News: Don’t expect them to be pursuing free agents
- Jacksonville Jaguars unlikely to pursue Carson Wentz despite Doug Pederson connection
As John Oehser of Jaguars.com wrote, the feeling about what the front office set to do has changed a bit. Now the idea of who becomes the first pick is a bit more wide open than it was prior to the start of free agency last month.
"“That fits with the Jaguars’ annual offseason strategy – to do enough during free agency that they can draft without regard to need,” Oehser writes. “So far, so good.”"
When the team signed Nick Foles to replace Blake Bortles during the first week of free agency, it appeared the weight of an albatross was lifted from the neck of both Tom Coughlin and David Caldwell. The Jaguars got a quarterback who won a Super Bowl and played his best football the past two seasons in clutch situations.
If anyone out there watched the Philadelphia Eagles with Foles under center, you saw the talent on offense was much better than it was here in Jacksonville even now.
Trying to figure all this out is a bit stressful if you are trying to pinpoint the team’s most pressing need at the moment.
- There is still a need for a starting right tackle
- The wide receiver corps is deeper with the addition of Chris Conley, but is it better?
- The Jaguars have re-signed three of their own offensive line free agents and added Cedric Ogbuehi and Leonard Wester.
- Geoff Swaim had an underwhelming career in Dallas at the tight end position. James O’Shaughnessy could shine in John DiFilippo’s offense.
- Alfred Blue is a nice addition to back up Leonard Fournette. Bennie Cunningham could be Corey Grant, only bigger.
Let’s not count out the fact Jacksonville signed Jake Ryan to play inside linebacker, which could mean Myles Jack moves back outside and has more free reign to chase down running backs and wide receivers. The team could still use one more player for depth. This unit is still weak, in my opinion.
The defensive line figures to still be one of the better units in the NFL, but depth could be an issue. Bryan got better as the season progressed and should compete to start inside next to Marcell Dareus. The Jaguars could still use another big body with Abry Jones playing in reserve.
If a standout pass rusher or interior lineman is available, how quickly does this team run the card up to commissioner Roger Goodell?
The secondary has two Pro Bowl caliber players in cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye and two questions marks at safety. If the season started right now, Jarrod Wilson and Ronnie Harrison would start – a bit underwhelming. Harrison showed flashes of future potential. Wilson is still a work in progress and got a contract extension right after the end of the season.
Still, Oehser and I believe the other side of the ball will get the most attention for three night starting on April 25.
"“The Jaguars’ most-pressing needs now appear to be tight end and offensive line,” he explains. “But those needs aren’t so extreme that the Jaguars must use their first-round selection on either position. That leaves many possibilities.”"
As I wrote in a story that appeared earlier this morning, the thought of the Jaguars taking a quarterback with the seventh pick could still be an option. No one in the front office is discussing it, but the team has not come out and shut the door on the notion.
If the best player option is the one the Jaguars roll with on Draft night, don’t be surprised if a defensive player falls to them the front office did not see coming. That will only add more intrigue as the other six rounds give the team an opportunity to fill more pressing needs.