Jaguars have options to address O-Line this offseason

Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Evan Neal (73) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Evan Neal (73) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Jacksonville Jaguars will have to address several needs this offseason but there’s no clear road to do it. Their offensive line could use upgrades, so it wouldn’t be particularly shocking to see them select Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal with the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, that won’t be their only option when it comes to fortifying the left tackle position.

Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report recently discussed one mistake every NFL team must avoid making in this year’s draft and believes that not selecting a left tackle would be a big one for the Jaguars. Sobleski contends that finding a proper bodyguard for Trevor Lawrence is the best investment Jacksonville could make and thinks that they could be better off taking Neal over Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux with the top pick.

"As holders of another top selection, the Jaguars will have their choice of prospects. An investment in a proper bodyguard is the most logical choice, particularly in a class defined by the trenches. Surely, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux should be discussed. But a left tackle will be necessary if Cam Robinson departs in free agency. Alabama’s Evan Neal is considered the most pro-ready among this year’s offensive tackle prospects, according to B/R scout Brandon Thorn. Even so, the 6’7″, 350-pound blindside protector presents upside as a 21-year-old prospect who topped The Athletic’s yearly list of elite athletes heading into the 2021 campaign."

Sobleski also mentions North Carolina offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu as an option at No. 1 even though he isn’t as polished as Neal. Another option is Charles Cross of Mississippi State, who has become a darkhorse candidate to be the Jaguars’ pick.

The Jaguars can’t corner themselves in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Drafting Evan Neal is a realistic option for the Jaguars, one that would fortify their offensive line. However, that’s not the only way they can better their protection up front. After all, they are set to have around $56 million in cap space and four selections in the first three rounds of the draft. First and foremost, they need to make a decision on left tackle Cam Robinson. If he figures in the team’s future, the front office must either use the franchise on him or try to reach a multi-year deal.

Keep in mind that keeping Robinson doesn’t mean the Jaguars would close the door on Neal. They could plug him at guard or right tackle. Of course, the team’s brass needs to decide what to do with Walker Little, who showed flashes late in the 2021 season and deserves to compete for a spot in the offensive line.

On the other hand, if the Jaguars let Robinson walk away in free agency, they could sign Terron Armstead, who is better but would be more expensive, or simply have Little line up at either tackle spot and draft Neal. Of course, Jacksonville also needs to address their interior offensive line with Andrew Norwell, A.J. Cann, and primary backup Tyler Shatley scheduled to become free agents, and that will play a role in how the front office uses its resources.

The Jaguars will have several routes to bolster their offensive line this offseason and there is no clear-cut answer. All scenarios come with pros and cons but the team’s brass can’t close the door in any of them. At least for the moment.

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