Potential Yannick Ngakoue reunion could alter the Jacksonville Jaguars draft strategy
An old adage says that time can help heal wounds and that seems to be the case with the Jacksonville Jaguars and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who could get back together after splitting in non-amicable terms back in 2020. If the Jags do bring Ngakoue back, their approach to the 2023 NFL Draft could change.
Michael DiRocco of ESPN recently made an appearance on 1010 XL and said that the Jaguars wouldn't be opposed to acquiring Ngakoue. However, DiRocco then added that his contract demands and potential role on the defense could stop a deal from happening.
A third-round selection in 2016, Ngakoue was a key cog in the Jaguars' team that made it all the way to the AFC Championship in 2017, registering 10 sacks with four forced fumbles. However, he got into a public squabble with team executive Tony Khan in 2020 while seeking a new contract. The quarrel eventually led to his trade to the Minnesota Vikings before the start of the 2020 season and to the Baltimore Ravens later that year.
Since then, the former Maryland Terrapin has also suited up for the Las Vegas Raiders and the Indianapolis Colts. He's still looking for a new team after becoming a free agent earlier this year, so he can join a club without any kind of constraints at any time. All in all, Ngakoue has appeared in 110 games with 102 starts and has registered 65 sacks, 21 forced fumbles and 202 total tackles.
The Jacksonville Jaguars would check off a box with Yannick Ngakoue
Despite the fact that he's been in the league for seven seasons, Ngakoue is only 28 and still has plenty of gas left in him. Over the last two seasons, he's logged 19.5 sacks. The Jacksonville Jaguars could use that kind of production.
The Jags had a 4-3 defense when Ngakoue was on the teams but they now run a 4-3 scheme. Nevertheless, he could still line up at defensive end and take on a similar role to the one Arden Key had last year. And if a reunion ends up happening, upgrading the pass rush wouldn't probably be a priority in the draft, so the team's brass could address other needs such as cornerback, tight end, and offensive tackle.
Having said that, it's not a guarantee that Ngakoue will return to Jacksonville, and if he returns, it could be after the draft. As DiRocco noted, his desired compensation could become a point of contention and stall negociations.
It's important to point out that the Jags are working with a limited budget, so they might not be able to meet his salary demands. Conversely, they could offer him a one-year, prove-it deal that gives him the chance to rebuild his stock and become hit the open market next year.
Ngakoue is an effective player that could solidify the Jaguars' pass rush. Despite the fact that there might be a few hurdles to clear before they strike a deal, this could potentially be a win-win situation for both Ngakoue and the Jags.