Jaguars 2019 NFL Draft: Valuing right tackles

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 30: Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks to pass under pressure by J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans in the third quarter at NRG Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 30: Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks to pass under pressure by J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans in the third quarter at NRG Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Do the Jacksonville Jaguars put a higher value on the right tackle position than they do other areas of need in the NFL Draft?

Heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars currently select seventh overall with the opportunity for that to change if they choose to trade up or down.

If you scour the internet in search of mock drafts, you will quickly notice a trend – the Jaguars select Jawaan Taylor, right tackle from the University of Florida. The reason for this? The Jaguars haven’t done well with their offensive line.

In truth, if he helps the offense and plays at a top level, then a  right tackle in the top 10 of the NFL Draft makes total sense. I love linemen. After all, they are highly responsible for winning football games on most days. However, right tackle usually remains a position that could historically be found later in the draft. Left tackle, being the position that involves the most elite of skills, matching up with the other teams premier pass rusher, would be more likely to be a top 10 selection.

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Will Richardson, the team’s fourth-round pick in 2018, has not played a regular season game in a Jaguars uniform. What if he is good, or even great? Josh Wells never got to play at a healthy as the team would have liked, but he played left tackle well in spots. He could potentially play right as he has a solid punch. Even if both players were not viewed as starters, then certainly right tackle would be available later, Right?

I searched out every starting right tackle currently listed in the NFL. Some of them are playing on new teams and in new systems so pointing out Pro Bowlers would only give you a slanted truth. I’m going with a research on current starters who currently composed the starting lineup for each NFL team. Needless to say, there are some interesting facts out there as we attempt to educate ourselves at football.

With the trade of Marcus Gilbert from the Steelers to the Cardinals, now all starting right tackles in the NFC West were drafted in either the first or second round. This pattern, while showing value in taking this position high, does not hold up throughout the league.

Seven of the 32 starters were actually taken in the first round. Another, La’el Collins of the Cowboys, had a first round grade but went undrafted due to off-field concerns. That makes eight starters evaluated at very, very high levels. Eight of a possible 32, but these eight are good overall.

In the second round, five were taken and the next highest was the fifth round with four starters. Including Collins, there were four starters taken from undrafted free agency. This furthered my thoughts regarding the position being taken that high. The NFL did collectively draft a starter at the position in each and every round. In order to grant perspective on the position, remember that the 2019 Pro Bowl selected all left tackles. They’re just better players in most cases.

The offensive line defines a team. They determine if they function correctly. Can they communicate? Do they have footwork? Do the hips bend? Does the upper body tilt? There are many things that can go wrong and if you get the best guys possible it will be the best line possible. So get the best guys, but get them where value makes sense or else you look back in 3-5 years and get upset that the Jaguars dont have Player X (you know, like the guy about to hit the quarterback in the photo above).

I think Taylor could be incredible, especially  involving in-line run blocking. Taylor’s greatest gift might even be the communication and ability to pass a defender to the man next to him along the line. He truly matured that way and not all offensive linemen do and it makes him fun to watch on youtube (Click here for a great breakdown by one of my new favorite internet scouts, Voch Lombardi.) While I think he could be a great addition to Jacksonville, I have to ask: Do we really think we can’t get an adequate starter later in the draft? The discussion of value centers around the rarity of the position.

With so many starting quality players available at other rounds (understandably they aren’t all the same talent level), one must assess the value of a starting-caliber defense end or tight end or potentially even cornerback.

Nick Foles changes the conversation about the Jaguars. dark. Next

There are only so many players that play like Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson or Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons, or Montez Sweat. The list could go on about more players available at positions that do not have a similar talent levels between their highest tier and their median. There are probably a few starting right tackles to be found in this draft. So where do you, the fan, find the value?