Jaguars' pick in 2025 NFL Mock Draft spells doom for prominent veteran

• The pick ESPN projects for the Jaguars in a 2025 mock draft could mean the end of a veteran's stint in Jacksonville.
2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3
2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3 / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The Jacksonville Jaguars have had no trouble locking up key contributors such as Trevor Lawrence and Josh Allen this offseason. However, the salary cap could prevent them from bringing back several players who are set to become free agents in 2025. Among the most prominent ones is left tackle Cam Robinson. If the Jags let him walk, though, Matt Miller of ESPN believes they can find his replacement in next year's draft.

Miller did a 2025 NFL Mock draft and has Jacksonville drafting Emery Jones Jr. at No. 15. His reasoning behind the pick is that they could use a boost on either edge of the offensive trenches.

"The biggest weakness on the Jacksonville roster is at offensive tackle; Anton Harrison struggled on the right side as a rookie, and Cam Robinson was among the worst run-blocking left tackles in the league last season. But Jones -- who starts at right tackle for the Tigers -- has easy movement skills despite a 6-foot-6 and 315-pound frame, and I see the agility and balance to play left or right tackle in the pros. He has to clean up some timing issues, but his jump from freshman starter to sophomore standout (seven sacks allowed in Year 1 compared to four in Year 2) showed his potential."

A four-star recruit out of high school, Jones has become a mainstay of the LSU offensive line. Ian Cummings of Pro Football Network believes he's the most well-rounded offensive tackle prospect of the 2025 class and currently projects him to go in the middle of the first round, right where Miller thinks the Jaguars will pick next year.

At 6'6" and 332 pounds, the Baton Rouge native checks all the boxes you want in a first-round prospect. Cummings cites his less-than-ideal hip flexibility as one of his biggest weaknesses but thinks that the offensive tackle's got enough functional athleticism to make up for it.

While Cummings sees Jones as a natural right tackle, he opines that he's got the skills to potentially make a transition to the left side. In Jacksonville, he could replace Cam Robinson at left tackle or line up on the right side if Anton Harrison switches to the left tackle.

Why lettting Cam Robinson walk and make sense for the Jaguars

Cam Robinson, a second-round pick in 2017, has spent his whole career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He struggled early on and an ACL injury wiped out most of his sophomore campaign. However, he's developed into a fixture up front. The former Alabama standout was one of the first prominent players Trent Baalke re-signed as the general manager, giving him a three-year deal worth $52.5 million in 2022.

While he's never been among the top offensive tackles in the NFL, Robinson has more than held his own. More often than not, the offensive line has struggled when he has to miss time. On the other hand, he's a good-not-great pass blocker, as Matt Miller pointed out. Moreover, he's only started a full season once in his career.

In fact, the Monroe, Louisiana native appeared in just nine games last year. He sat out four while serving a suspension for violations to the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. Late in 2023, he suffered a meniscus injury that forced him to miss four contests.

Robinson is now entering the last year of the contract he signed in 2022. The suspension wiped out the remaining guarantees in his deal and the Jaguars could've cut him and freed up $17 million in cap space. However, the team's brass says they expect him back next season. His future beyond 2024 is in doubt, though.

It's also worth noting that Robinson was the subject of trade fodder throughout the offseason. The Jags could still deal him before the regular season and roll with fourth-year pro Walker Little at left tackle. There are currently no indications the front office intends to send Robinson packing but they may revisit their stance if they get an offer they like.

For the time being, Robinson is set to become a free agent in 2025, so he'll have ample time to show he deserves a new contract. Whether he gets it from the Jaguars or another club remains to be seen.

Why Emery Jones Jr. would be a good pick for the Jaguars

It's hard to see Cam Robinson getting a contract as big as the one he got in 2022 ($17.4 million per year). However, the Jacksonville Jaguars could bring him back if his salary demands aren't unreasonable. On the other hand, they may choose to start over at left tackle.

Like Robinson, Walker Little is entering a contract year. The 2021 second-round pick has played well when called upon but hasn't been able to earn a featured role over the last three seasons. Perhaps he'll get his chance if the Jags trade his veteran counterpart before the season begins, but there's no guarantee they will.

For the sake of argument, let's say the Jaguars move on from both Little and Robinson in 2025. That could pave the way for Emery Jones Jr. The coaching staff could plug him in at left tackle or let him play his natural position.

If the Jags see Jones as a right tackle, Anton Harrison could move back to the left side, where he lined up most of collegiate career. The Oklahoma product struggled early in his rookie season but progressively got better. He could keep improving if he stays on the right side but he might untap his potential if he returns to left tackle.

One thing that could incentivize Jacksonville to let Little and Robinson walk is Javon Foster. A fourth-round selection in this year's draft, the former Mizzou Tiger is a project at this stage of his NFL career but could develop into a steady swing tackle.

By not re-signing Robinson (and Little), the Jaguars could also use the savings to bolster other position groups. Maybe the offensive line or the cornerback group. Either way, drafting Jones would be cheaper than bringing back Robison.

That said, Jones is a junior, so he could return for his senior season at LSU. Furthermore, he'll need to keep improving to solidify his draft stock. For the time being, though, he looks like an appealing heir apparent for Robinson.

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