Jaguars draft needs in order of importance
Just because the Jacksonville Jaguars have needs on both sides of the football does not mean the team will address all of them in the NFL Draft next week.
Nine days and counting. The Jacksonville Jaguars just like every other team in the NFL is preparing for the Draft. The team did enough in free agent to fill depth and add their starting quarterback, Nick Foles. The front office will tell you if the season started today, the coaching staff would feel good about the team the Jaguars field.
While much has been made about a lack of a starting right tackle at the moment and general manager David Caldwell’s comfort level with the group of wide receivers currently on the roster there are changes to be made next week that will shape this roster.
We all know the NFL Draft will bring more starters at key positions on offense and possibly defense as well.
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When you look at what this organization still needs position by position, which one stands out the most? What is the formula the team uses to determine which is of greater importance? And maybe the most important question that will be asked a week from Thursday is will the front office take the highest rated player on their draft board regardless of position?
Does that mean a pass rusher is valued over a tight end or offensive lineman?
Those questions alone make me believe this will be the most important draft class this team has had since Caldwell took over as general manager in 2013. Here is a look at how I rank the Jaguars draft needs in order of importance.
Tight End – I’ll put the tight end position at the top of the list.
The biggest issue I have with the prospects this season is whether or not they are worthy of the seventh pick in the Draft. Rarely does a team use their high a draft pick on the position. T.J. Hockenson out of Iowa is ranked as the top player at the position. He is a fringe top 10 player, which means Jacksonville wouldn’t be taking too much of a chance grabbing him here.
In his press conference with the media on Tuesday, Foles talked about playing with two great tight ends in Travis Kelce in Kansas City and Zach Ertz in Philadelphia. The position is a key component of John DiFilippo’s offense.
I think if the team trades back, and acquires more draft picks, the thought could be that they hope to grab Hockenson somewhere between the 10th and 13th picks. He is as close to a complete package as there is this year, and it should fill the Jaguars need for a pass-catching tight end in the middle of the field and in the red zone.
Right Tackle – I read an interesting take by Michael DiRocco, of ESPN the other day about his assessment of the Jaguars needs and what the team might do with the 7th pick. He makes a compelling argument that the offense of line may not be the teams first choice.
Jacksonville signed three of their own free agents this off-season and then went back into free agency to sign three more linemen. He said he thought that because of the numbers already on the roster, the coaching staff would let it all play out.
In theory, I like the concept because it allows this team to concentrate on other areas of need. But I still think making sure Foles is protected will be the team’s top priority. Now comes the decision of which tackle to draft, and is there an option to wait until Round 2.
I’m not sold on Jawaan Taylor of Florida. I know that Alabama’s Jonah Williams is getting a lot of attention lately. Andre Dillard of Washington State has also been mentioned. And there are options in other rounds that also makes sense.
Don’t get me wrong, at the Jaguars will take at least one lineman in this draft. I’m just not sure whether it will be with the first pick.
Defensive Line – This isn’t a major area of need in terms of starting players. But in reality, the Jaguars don’t have a lot of depth in terms of pass rushers on this roster.
If Calais Campbell or Yannick Ngakoue were to suffer an injury, who’s going to replace that kind of value? It’s hard to think that Lerentee McCray or Dawuane Smoot can step into that role admirably.
If one of the top pass rushers were to fall to the seventh spot, don’t think Tom Coughlin won’t jump at the chance to get a stud to help the defensive line. It’s the same philosophy he used with the New York Giants, which led to two Super Bowl victories, and it should be the same kind of game plan he and the coaching staff follow.
The Jaguars were successful in 2017 because both lines were solid. Injuries didn’t play a factor in wins and losses. Coughlin showed adding depth as he did in his Super Bowl years of 2007 and 2011 proved that while there are other areas of need it, having too many pass rushers is never a bad thing.
I keep thinking this team is going to draft Montez Sweat of Mississippi State or Quinnen Williams of Alabama if they were to become available when it’s Jacksonville time to draft. This could all be wrong, but it plays right into what Coughlin likes to do in building a winner.