Jaguars fans should want this Round 1 WR target after 2024 NFL Scouting Combine

• This WR prospect could be an ideal replacement for Calvin Ridley if the Jaguars lose him in free agency.

Mar 2, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisiana State wide receiver Brian Thomas (WO29) during the
Mar 2, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisiana State wide receiver Brian Thomas (WO29) during the / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars used the franchise tag on outside linebacker Josh Allen to prevent him from hitting the open market. However, they may not be nearly as successful with wide receiver Calvin Ridley. With Allen getting the tag, Ridley has a clear path to free agency. Fortunately for the Jags, they'll have options to replace him in the draft if he leaves. One prospect, in particular, they should keep an eye on is LSU's Brian Thomas Jr.

Thomas is one of many draft hopefuls who should feel good about themselves after putting up great test results at the NFL Scouting Combine. Xavier Worthy rightfully got the spotlight after running the 40-yard dash in a record 4.21 seconds. However, Thomas posted a pretty good time himself, clocking a 4.33 run, the second-best mark at the event.

If that wasn't enough, Thomas had a 9.97 RAS score, the 10th-best mark among wide receivers since 1987. In case you were wondering, the Relative Athletic Scores grade a "player's measurements on a 0 to 10 scale compared to his peer group, according to creator Kent Lee Platte. Speaking of, here's what Lee Platte had to say about Thomas' outing at the scouting combine.

But even before his outstanding performance at the combine, Thomas was projected to go in the first round. If anything, his performance solidifies his spot as a top-20 pick. Add the fact that he has plenty of untap potential makes him an intriguing target at No. 17.

Why the Jaguars should go after Brian Thomas Jr. in Round 1

While there's a slim chance that the Jacksonville Jaguars will be able to retain Calvin Ridley, wide receiver will become one of their top needs on their draft board if he leaves. Working in their favor is that this year's class is stacked with talent at the position, especially in the first round.

It's highly unlikely that the Jags will have a shot at landing Marvin Harrison Jr. but even if he's gone by pick No. 5, there will still be plenty of talent available. Rome Odunze is a name to keep an eye on, especially when you take into account that the Jags, and other teams, may need to trade up to get him. There's also Malik Nabers or Keon Coleman, but Brian Thomas has routinely been pegged at No. 17 in mock drafts.

Thomas has the burst and speed to stretch the field. His route-running could use some work. The same is true for his footwork but he could step in right off the bat and contribute. Granted, he might not have the same impact Ridley had last year but he could develop into the bonafide No. 1 receiver the Jaguars missed before they traded for Ridley.

Now, it's not a given that Ridley will walk but one added benefit of not re-signing him before free agency starts is that the Jags will need to give the Atlanta Falcons a third-round selection, and not a second, as part of the trade they made in 2022. They could use that second-round pick to address other positions of need, instead of having to spend on free agency.

There's no doubt that letting Calvin Ridley would sting, but the Jacksonville Jaguars will have options to replace him. Brian Thomas Jr. should be at the top of the list.

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