Cornerback isn't an immediate need for the Jacksonville Jaguars but it could become one next year. While they must bolster the pass rush and the interior trenches in the offseason, they should not pass up the chance to acquire a premiere cornerback in the 2024 NFL Draft. Connor Livesay of The 33rd Team seems to agree and has them going with Kool-Aid McKinstry next April.
Livesay did an NFL mock draft and had the Jags picking McKinstry. He points out they have holes at several positions on defense and the Alabama product is a "blinking light that could give Jacksonville an immediate contributor.
Depending on whom you ask, McKinstry is either the best cornerback prospect his year or among the top three or four. At 6'1", he's got the size and length to play man in the NFL. Cory Giddins of the Bleacher Report scouting department describes him as a long strider who can keep up with receivers with the IQ to read routes.
Giddins notes that McKinstry has to do a better job of using his hands downfield. Similarly, he needs to improve his footwork and consistently turn his head back to track the football in coverage. On the other hand, he believes the 2022 First-Team All-SEC team possesses the undeniable skills to play multiple schemes in the NFL, giving him a late first-round/early second grade.
"While working downfield, he can be a bit handsy at times. His high IQ can present itself by showing his route recognition and knowing how to keep his leverage.
McKinstry is a long strider who has the speed to run with most receivers downfield while also staying calm with the ball in the air. Although he often chooses to faceguard receivers, he does a good job of playing through the hands with good timing. He excels in playing the ball in front of him."
This isn't the first time a cornerback is mocked to the Jaguars at No. 17. Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. has them taking Iowa's Cooper DeJean despite the fact that center, wide receiver, and the pass rush may be greater needs this year.
Kool McKinstry would give stability to the Jacksonville Jaguars long term
The Jaguars have a pair of starting cornerbacks in Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams. The former was an ascending talent working his way up to the top 10 before injuries hindered his performance last year. The latter had four interceptions last year, tied for his career-best, and a team-high 19 passes defensed in 2023.
There's a reason to believe Campbell can bounce back if he stays healthy and nothing is impeding Wiliams from building off of last season's success. That said, both of them are set to become free agents in 2024, and it may be too early to know if either one will come back next year. The fact that Ryan Nielsen just took the reins on defense could make their future with the team murkier. If one of them isn't a fit for his scheme, Nielsen may want the Jags to add a starting corner in the draft.
That's where McKinstry comes in. While center is arguably Jacksonville's biggest need right now, they can easily address it on Day 2 of the draft or free agency. Meanwhile, cornerback is a premium position and the team's brass shouldn't rule out taking McKinstry's caliber if he's available at No. 17.
Does it matter that corner isn't a pressing need for the Jacksonville Jaguars if they end up with a 10-year starter? That's something they'll need to asses when discussing their offseason strategy. One thing is certain, they must load up on talent if they want to challenge the Houston Texans for the division talent in 2024. Kool-Aid McKinstry would most definitely improve their chances.