Jaguars can trade down if they want Charles Cross in the 2022 NFL Draft
Alabama’s Evan Neal is the top prospect in this year’s offensive tackle class but if the Jacksonville Jaguars prefer Charles Cross of Mississippi State, they could trade down and few spots and still take him instead of using the first overall pick on him.
Seth Galina of Pro Football Focus recently put together a first-round mock draft and had the Jags taking Cross and Neal landing with the New York Jets at number four. Galina acknowledges that Cross isn’t probably the best overall player in the draft but believes he’s close. In fact, he thinks the former Mississippi State Bulldog is the top offensive tackle in the class and goes on to cite his improved performance in 2021 as a reason for being so high on him.
"Cross might not be the best overall player in the draft — he’s close — but, in my opinion, he is the best tackle, which is where the Jaguars should focus their attention. Cross exploded onto the scene with a tremendous 2021 campaign that saw his PFF grade rise from 64.4 in 2020 to 86.7. He is as technical and refined as any player in the draft."
This isn’t the first time Cross has been linked to the Jaguars. Josh Edwards of CBS Sports also drew up a mock draft in which Jacksonville takes the offensive tackle at number one. He noted at the time that even though the Mississippi native isn’t the top offensive tackle in this year’s batch but doesn’t it would be shocking to see the Jags selecting him with the top pick. Moreover, Cross was the sixth overall prospect in PFF’s draft board and had the second-best overall grade in the SEC.
The Jaguars could get extra picks and Charles Cross if they trade down.
Evan Neal, Michigan Aidan Hutchinson, and Kayvon Thibodeaux (in no particular order) are seen as the top 3 prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft and all of them could be gone by the fourth overall pick. The Jaguars could take any of them and end up with difference-maker but if they want to take Cross, they need to consider swapping picks with New York and move to number four. By trading three spots, they could still be in a position to take him or one of the top players in the selection meeting.
Let’s say the Jags pull off a trade with the Jets. New York could take Hutchinson or Thibodeau. The Detroit Lions could take the other defensive end. The Houston Texans could take a quarterback or Neal and Jacksonville would be in a position to select Cross. In fact, if the Texans went quarterback and neither the Jets nor Lions take Neal, the Jags could nab him or Cross.
Of course, this would be contingent on two things. First, the Jaguars would need to be able to trade down. Also, they would need to be comfortable passing on either Thibodeaux or Hutchinson. If Jacksonville likes one of the top two defensive ends in the draft, it doesn’t make much sense to trade down. But if they wanted to take an offensive tackle in the first round and were split between Neal and Cross, they should then work the phones.
The Jaguars added several key contributors last offseason but it wasn’t enough to help them win enough games. This offseason, they need to make sure they keep adding playmakers to the roster if they want to become more competitive. If they think Cross can help them, they should then take him but they should consider trading down for him to get him.