Will Jaguars regret not drafting top corner despite having him on silver plate?

• The Jaguars had interest in one of the top CB in the 2024 draft.

• They had a chance to select him.

• Instead, they went with WR Brian Thomas Jr.

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke speaks during a press conference Friday, April 26,
Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke speaks during a press conference Friday, April 26, / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA

The Jacksonville Jaguars needed help at cornerback in the 2024 NFL Draft but they waited until Round 3 to address the position. With their first-round pick, they selected wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr., but if he hadn't been available, they might've reportedly chosen Terrion Arnold. Will this be a decision that Jacksonville may come to regret?

Jeremy Fowler reported in the aftermath of the draft that the Jags had a strong interest in Arnold but ultimately wanted a "receiver with dominant traits to replace Calvin Ridley." They reasoned that they felt like they could take care of the corner position elsewhere in the draft.

When the Jaguars were on the clock at No. 17, no cornerback had been drafted yet, so they could've chosen either Arnold or Quinyion Mitchell, the top prospects in the class. However, they opted to move down six spots in exchange for a fifth-round selection this year, a 2025 third-round pick and a 2025 fourth-round pick.

At No. 23, only one cornerback was gone off the board, Mitchell, so if Jacksonville wanted to, they could've easily gone with Arnold. Thomas was the pick and they waited until No. 96 to choose Jarrion Jones.

It's worth noting that when the Jaguars selected Thomas, their social media team posted a picture of him but the caption said that they had taken Arnold, so it looks like he was indeed in consideration.

Just recently, Jaguars assistant general manager Ethan Waugh said that they feel they have a starting corner in Ronald Darby. Signing him gave them plenty of flexibility and allowed them to address other positions first. When asked if Jacksonville would've gone cornerback if Thomas had been off the board, Waugh said maybe.

"I guess, I don't know if they're tied specifically together. But yeah. "We look at our depth chart, we see we have a guy there that competed in NFL up," Waugh told the local media at rookie minicamp. "Let's take the person that we think can help us the most as a team. So that was a decision."

The Jaguars believe Brian Thomas Jr. filled a bigger need than Terrion Arnold

Despite signing Ronald Darby, the Jaguars needed to give their cornerback room a boost in the draft. Tyson Campbell is coming off an injury-riddled season and may not be a good fit in defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen's press-heavy scheme. But even if he thrives, he's set to become a free agent in 2025, so having a cushion in case he leaves will be crucial.

Moreover, the bottom half of their cornerback depth chart is a work in progress. Montaric Brown stepped in for Campbell last year. While dependable, he's not much more than a backup right now. Also in the mix is sophomore Christian Braswell, who flashed potential in 2023 but also missed time with injuries. Maybe he'll keep making strides but drafting Jarrian Jones and Deantre Prince in the fold gives the team a pair of intriguing options in the position.

Both Jones and Prince have speed and a feisty attitude that will help them succeed in the NFL. That said, neither is of the Arnold's caliber. Granted, they could develop into steady contributors but Arnold has better odds of succeeding based on where he was drafted. On the other hand, Brian Thomas Jr. has the potential to become a true bonafide WR1.

Unless Arnold turns out to be Jalen Ramsey 2.0 or the reincarnation of Deion Sanders, the front office should be good about passing on him. Add the fact that the Jags ended with two enticing prospects even after drafting Thomas, and it's fair to say that they made the right choice.

If neither Darby nor the rookies show out in 2024, the Jacksonville Jaguars can prioritize the cornerback position next year. For the time being, they no longer have to worry about getting help at wide receiver.

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