Building around Trevor Lawrence must be the Jacksonville Jaguars’ top priority this offseason. That’s why they hired an offensive-minded head coach in Doug Pederson. But their defense could also use upgrades, which is why they’re projected to bolster their linebacker corps in a recent mock draft.
Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus recently did a two-round mock draft and had the Jaguars taking linebacker Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson first overall and Brian Asamoah with the 33rd overall pick, the first selection in the second round. Gayle doesn’t give any reasons but it’s easy to see why he believes Jacksonville should choose him. Asamoah was a productive player at Oklahoma, appearing in 32 games and logging 168 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles in a span of three seasons.
The other side of the coin is that Gayle has Asamoah getting drafted earlier than other analysts. Luke Easterling of Draft Wire sees the Ohio native landing with the Denver Broncos towards the end of the third round at No. 96 while Derrick Klassen of the Bleacher Report Scouting Department gave him a fourth-round grade. Klassen believes Asamoah’s coverage skills are worth a late swing but believes he isn’t a complete linebacker yet.
"Asamoah would best fit as a “Will” in the NFL, where he can be kept clean from strong-side blocks and do work as a coverage defender. With that said, he still needs to add strength and physicality before he develops into a full-time starter at the position. Asamoah’s coverage chops are worth a late swing, but he is a ways away from being a complete linebacker right now."
The Jaguars could draft Brian Asamoah but not in the second round.
Pegging Hutchinson at number one isn’t particularly shocking. After all, he’s one of the top three prospects — the other two are Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal — in this year’s draft and a good bet to land in Jacksonville. It’s the Asamoah pick the one that should get attention.
NFL teams will have different grades on draft prospects, so it’s not shocking to see analysts have contrasting views on Asamoah or any other player for that matter. Having said that, the Jaguars might be better off waiting to take Asamoah until the third round. They could draft a wide receiver, a tight end, or even an offensive tackle depending on what they do in free agency.
The Jags’ linebacker corps could use a boost, especially if they decide to move on from Myles Jack (they shouldn’t), and Damien Wilson slated to become a free agent. As Klassen said, Asamoah’s coverage skills would be a welcome addition to a defense that struggled to cover the middle of the football field. On the other hand, there are other units that need more help in both free agency and the draft.
Having said that, just because linebacker isn’t at the top of the Jaguars’ offseason needs, it should be neglected and if the team’s brass believes Brian Asamoah can help them, they should pick him wherever they think it’s appropriate, whether it’s the second, third or fourth round.