Jacksonville Jaguars: Looking at potential late-round safeties

Could the Jacksonville Jaguars seek a late-round safety in the NFL Draft to help the secondary?

The Jacksonville Jaguars could discover a surprising gem at safety in the late rounds of the NFL Draft. Despite two starters returning for the 2020 season – Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson – the position still needs added depth.

My favorite part of the pre-draft analysis is putting on my wannabe general manager cap and looking for late-round gems like Gardner Minshew and Tom Brady.  They don’t all turn out like Brady but the right choice can make a huge difference on a team lacking talent like the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Often the best place to look is at great players from small colleges.  My “sleeper” pick was going to be Kyle Dugger from Lenoir Rhyne. To the surprise of many, he showed elite size, strength, and speed. Dugger is 6’1” and weighs 217 pounds. His 40-yard dash time was 4.49. His combine grade was 6.32 which means he will be a starter within the first two years.

No, he’s not exactly a sleeper. For those out there who are curious, Lenoir Rhyne hasn’t had a player drafted in the NFL since 2000. He has played defensive back and was a return specialist in college. Coaches and scouts have been visiting his college all season.

According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Dugger could be a force in the NFL from the time he sets foot on the playing field.

“He plays with controlled violence and carries an alpha demeanor on the field. He has soft hands and is rangy, but needs to train his eyes and improve his fundamentals before he’s coverage-ready.” Zierlein wrote. “Dugger is a versatile, scheme-friendly safety who helps immediately on special teams and could develop into a talented NFL starter.”

The Decatur, Georgia native also turned heads from the scouts over at walterfootball.com, who believe he has a chance to be an elite player in this league. According to their site, he is the third-ranked safety on the draft board.

“Dugger put his name on the map in 2019, with high-level scouts like directors of college scouting going to watch him,” his scouting report states. “On the year, he totaled 31 tackles with two interceptions and four passes broken up.”

In 2018, Dugger totaled 76 tackles with 13 passes defended and three interceptions. He had 87 tackles with seven breakups and an interception in 2017 over 10 games.

Another talented candidate as a sleeper is Julian Blackmon of Utah. He is 6-foot-tall and weighs 187 pounds. His 40 yard dash time is 4.60. His combine grade was 6.24 which means a good back up or potential starter.

As Walter Football previewed his talents, ” Blackmon is a converted cornerback who was moved to free safety for his senior season and was a solid defender for the Utes. In 2019, he totaled 60 tackles with 1.5 sacks, four interceptions and four passes defended. Blackmon had an excellent game against UCLA with 12 tackles and an interception… Blackmon needs to get stronger to tackle in the NFL. He could be a developmental project from the third day of the 2020 NFL Draft.”

Blackmon could improve his chances of playing in the NFL by moving from cornerback to safety. Both are positions of need for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

There are many safeties available in the draft.  It is unlikely that the Jacksonville Jaguars will draft a safety in the early rounds but anything is possible. Xavier McKinney and Grant Delpit are unlikely to be selected by the team, but Dugger or Blackmon are possibilities who could help the defense right away and have high upsides for the future.

Next: Will the Jaguars draft a quarterback in Round 1?




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