The Jacksonville Jaguars must make wholesome changes after a disappointing end to the 2024 NFL season. They already moved on from several defensive assistants, including defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell. Once they find their replacement, the team's brass will need to turn their attention to the roster. One area in particular that needs upgrades is the interior offensive line. Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports believes they'll take care of it in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.
Wilson put together a first-round mock draft and has Jacksonville taking offensive lineman Taliese Fuaga in the first round, pointing out that a porous offensive line played a role in Trevor Lawrence's struggles last year.
"All the Jaguars had to do was beat a banged-up Titans team in Week 18 to win the division. Instead they lost, missed the playoffs altogether, and head into the offseason with more questions than answers. Trevor Lawrence struggled, and while he bears much of the responsibility, the offensive line did him no favors."
While Fuaga mostly played right tackle at Oregon State, he's projected as a guard in the NFL. At 6'6", he's got the size, length, speed, and power to thrive in the pros. Brandon Thorrn of the Bleacher Report scouting department believes the former Beaver needs to refine his footwork and technique, as he tends to "drift and overset against wide rush alignments".
Also, Fuaga's got a penchant for striking down the middle of high-side rushers, something defenders can nullify with the cross-chop technique. However, Thorn thinks the 2022 All-Pac 12 second team has the tools to become a starter at guard in training camp, but he also notes that he's got the quickness to line up outside.
Taliese Fuaga would be an interesting fit on the Jaguars offensive line
Fuaga lined up at right tackle in college, so if the Jacksonville Jaguars wanted him to play that position for them, they would then have to move Anton Harrison to the left side, creating a logjam. They already have Walker Little, and Cam Robinson in the mix, so they would have to part ways with either one to pave the way for Harrison at left tackle, a move he would be open to. On the other hand, Jacksonville's biggest need in the offensive trenches comes inside.
Brandon Scherff is poised to have a cap hit of over $20 million in 2024 but the top brass could free up a bit over $9 million with $14 million in dead money if they release him. While he's been good, he hasn't been nearly as dominant as he was during his seven-year stint with the Washington Commanders. If they moved on from him, they could then plug in Fuaga at right guard.
But if they keep Scherff around, the Jaguars could then have Fuaga play left guard, where they lacked stability last year. Regardless of the position, Fauga gives the team lots of flexibility if they want to bolster the offensive trenches in the first round of the draft.
The offensive line prevented the Jaguars from reaching their full potential in 2023. They'll need to make upgrades to the unit in the offseason if they want to avoid a repeat of last year. If they choose the draft route, Taliese Fuaga will be one of many choices potentially available in the first round.