Jaguars take CB instead of DT Maason Smith in PFF's draft do-over

• The Jaguars have a potential game-changer in Maason Smith

• They could've taken a CB with the pick

• Tha'ts what PFF think the Jags should've done

Oct 14, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers defensive tackle Maason Smith (0) lines up
Oct 14, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers defensive tackle Maason Smith (0) lines up / Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars needed help at cornerback early in the draft but they couldn't pass on defensive tackle Maason Smith at No. 48. Eventually, the front office selected Jarrian Jones near the end of Round 3. However, Max Chadwick of Pro Football Focus thinks Mike Sainristil would've been a much better pick than Smith.

Chadwick recently replaced the biggest reaches in the draft with "better prospects" and had the Jags going with Sainrsitil instead of Smith in the second round. He argues that Sainristil has a higher floor, and would've filled a need.

"The Jaguars should have chased Sainristil, a player with a higher floor and the top slot cornerback in the draft. The Michigan product earned 80.0-plus grades in each of the past two seasons, his first two at cornerback after spending his first three years at wide receiver. Cornerback was arguably Jacksonville’s biggest need entering the draft, and Sainristil was a top-35 overall talent."

Smith's biggest knock has been that he's still somewhat of a raw player and will need to hone his overall technique to have an impact in the NFL. That said, the former LSU Tiger has the athletic traits to succeed at the pro level.

Moreover, Smith is healthy, another concern he had entering the draft. He tore his ACL in 2022 and suffered an ankle injury early in the 2023 season, but general manager Trent Baalke says that he's now 100 percent.

Following Day 2 of the draft, Jim Wyann PFF called Smith one of the biggest reaches, so you can see that they've at least stayed consistent with their criticism of the selection. It's also easy to see why they think Sainristil would've been a better pick than Smith. He was a top-35 prospect on their draft board and cornerback was among the Jags' biggest needs.

On the other hand, Sainristil may not have been a good fit in Jacksonville. At 5'9" and 180 pounds, he might be a better fit in the slot than the boundaries, and the Jags weren't in need of a nickel. They signed Darrell Savage in free agency to fill that role and have a young stud in Chris Braswell waiting in the wings.

The Jaguars felt Maason Smith had better value than Mike Sainristil

When the Jaguars were on the clock at No. 17, they could've selected the cornerback they wanted, as all of them were still on the board. But once they passed up the chance to address the position in the first round, it was clear they wanted to prioritize other positions.

Trent Baalke told the media after the draft that they followed their big board and didn't want to take a lesser-rated prospect. That's why they waited until Round 3 to pick Jarrian Jones. Like Mike Sainristil, Jones can play inside or outside, but he's much faster, running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds.

Furthermore, Jones is a better, more feisty tackler, so you could make the case that the Jags ended up taking the better corner of the two. Add the fact that they landed their guy, Maason Smith, in the second round, and their draft haul looks much better.

Granted, Smith and Jones will need to work on their craft before they can contribute but they both have what it takes to earn a significant role as the 2024 season progresses.

In the end, there's plenty to like about the Maason Smith pick. While Mike Sainristil may turn out to be a fine player in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars couldn't resist Smith's immense upside.

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