Jaguars projected to go CB in CBS Sports’ 2023 NFL Mock Draft

Washington Huskies wide receiver Jalen McMillan (11) Oregon Ducks DB Christian Gonzalez (0) at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Huskies wide receiver Jalen McMillan (11) Oregon Ducks DB Christian Gonzalez (0) at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /

Conversations about the Jacksonville Jaguars have rightfully centered on their favorable chances of making the playoffs following their win over the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football. On the other hand, the Jags’ front office has kept evaluating prospects ahead of the 2023 NFL draft. While there’s still plenty of time to prepare, the team’s brass is aware they’ll have to address several needs in the offseason and they must decide how to approach them.

For one, Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports thinks Jacksonville should use their first-round pick in next year’s draft on cornerback Christian Gonzalez. Wilson recently put together a mock draft and had the Jags taking the Oregon standout at No. 12. He argues that Gonzales has the size, strength, and speed to thrive in the NFL.

"Gonzalez, a Colorado transfer, is a big-time athlete who is still growing into the position. He has the size, strength and speed to line up against NFL wide receivers; he just needs to improve in run support."

The sophomore cornerback had a productive season at Oregon in 2022, appearing in 12 games and registering seven passes defensed and four interceptions. The Jags could certainly use some help at quarterback next year. Shaquill Griffin could become a cap casualty and Jacksonville needs someone opposite Tyson Campbell, who is playing at a Pro Bowl level.

Christian Gonzalez is a fine CB but the Jaguars may have bigger needs

The downside of making the playoffs is that the Jags will no longer pick in the top 10 on the draft. All things considered, that’s a good problem to have. Although prospects such as Jalen Carter and wide receiver Quentin Johnston will probably be gone by the time Jacksonville is on the clock, they will still have a chance to come out of the first round with a playmaker.

Gonzalez would certainly give the secondary a boost but the Jaguars might be better off replenishing their defensive front. Defensive linemen Arden Key and Dawuane Smoot are set to become free agents in 2023 and it’s hard to tell if either one will be back. Similarly, the team’s brass might need to replace tight end Evan Engram if they can’t reach a multi-year deal in the upcoming months. Despite the fact that the Jags drafted outside linebacker Travon Walker with the No. 1 overall pick, they could still use another edge rusher.

The one position the Jags might not need to take care of is cornerback. Since moving outside, Darious Williams has shored up the spot opposite Campbell. Having said that, the Jaguars still need a viable option in the slot. Tre Herndon has played nickel in recent weeks but he’s also slated to become a free agent next year and he’s not the long-term answer at nickel.

The thing is that the Jags (and other teams) can wait until later rounds to look for a nickel cornerback. General manager Trent Baalke should instead look for upgrades at other position groups.

This isn’t to say the Jags shouldn’t draft Gonzalez. Simply, there might be higher needs on their draft board come April.

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