Jaguars: 4 potential draft replacements for D.J. Chark in 2022

D.J. Chark #17 of the Jacksonville Jaguars (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
D.J. Chark #17 of the Jacksonville Jaguars (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars had an incredible offseason, one that started with a fresh head coaching hire in Urban Meyer and was topped off with the selection of Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 NFL Draft. Looking to the future though, there are still roster improvements to be made despite a busy free agency and draft period. Perhaps no transaction will be more important for the Jaguars in the next several months than whether to extend wide receiver DJ Chark Jr.

Chark has had an up-and-down career since he was drafted by Jacksonville in 2018. This is exemplified by single-season receiving yardages of 174, 1,008, and 706 since his rookie campaign, respectively. Poor quarterback play has been a major factor in Chark’s success thus far, and it would be wise for the Jaguars to offer an extension before he could reach his full potential with a quarterback like Lawrence.

If a doomsday scenario occurs and Chark somehow ends up leaving the team as an unrestricted free agent in 2022, the team will be in serious need of an alpha receiver. Marvin Jones Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. are both very good football players but may not be capable of stepping into Chark’s shoes as a true number-one wideout.

Hopefully, this will serve as a self-jinx, and Chark will be in Jacksonville for a very long time. However, until he signs a multi-year extension, the idea of him leaving shouldn’t be ruled out. If the Jaguars do need to search for a new top receiver, here are four options in the 2022 NFL Draft that could make an instant impact on Jacksonville’s offense.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will have options in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Ohio State WR Chris Olave

Chris Olave opted not to join teammate Justin Fields by entering the 2021 draft and will instead be part of next year’s wide receiver class, which is a slight surprise considering how well he played at the end of last season for the Buckeyes. Olave scored seven touchdowns in seven games in 2020 while accounting for 100-plus receiving yards in all but two contests.

Lawrence was middling against man coverage over the past two years according to ESPN, so adding an elite route-runner who can regularly create separation would be a nice compliment in the Jaguars’ offense. Olave is one of the best route runners in college and would immediately provide a high floor with the potential to be Lawrence’s go-to guy right out of the gate.

Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson

Olave might be a slightly more popular name due to his Sugar Bowl breakout and the fact that he was expected to declare for the 2021 draft. Nevertheless, fellow Buckeye receiver Garrett Wilson may actually be the higher-ranked prospect by the end of next season.

Wilson has the ability to play outside and in the slot, and hopes to join a line of former Ohio State receivers (e.g., Michael Thomas, Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel) who are currently balling in the NFL. Like Olave, Wilson is a gifted route runner and is also excellent at tracking the ball and making contested catches.

Georgia WR George Pickens

Pickens tore his ACL last March and may not play much if at all in 2021 — but man is he a freak of nature. He simply plays at a different size than everyone else on the field and is one of the best contested-catch receivers in the country.

Jacksonville already has gifted wideouts under long-term contracts in Laviska Shenault, Marvin Jones, and Collin Johnson who can all make tough catches with little room to spare. If the Jaguars want to continue to acquire that receiver mold, Pickens would be a great target for 50-50 balls from Lawrence.

Clemson WR Justyn Ross

Ross is another player who is recovering from a serious injury but figures to be an outstanding NFL player if he passes medical tests. He’s one of the best vertical threats in the sport and wins with unrivaled physicality.

Of course, there’s also the Clemson connection, as a Ross draft selection would mean reuniting him with former Tigers Lawrence and Travis Etienne. That would be an awfully fun trio, especially under a former college head coach in Meyer.

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