After months of waiting and what feels like a million mock drafts completed, I am ecstatic to say that Draft week is finally upon us. With everything that’s been going on in the world recently, this week will be a much needed reprieve for many.
Between the trades, FA signings, and 12 possible incoming draft picks, the 2020 Jacksonville Jaguars will look a lot different than what they have become accustomed to the past few years, and that’s not a bad thing.
GM Dave Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone are on the hot seat this season and need to show owner Shad Khan that the team is in capable hands. Below I recap the offseason to date and preview how the Jaguars draft could go.
- DE Calais Campbell traded to the Ravens for a fifth round pick
- CB A.J. Bouye traded to the Broncos for a fourth round pick
- QB Nick Foles traded to the Bears for a fourth round pick
- DT Marcell Dareus had his 2020 Team Option declined
- DE Yannick Ngakoue* (While the Jags used their franchise tag on him, he has no intentions of signing and I expect him to be traded before training camp. His Twitter profile tells the story better than any journalist could).
Before I start breaking down possible scenarios, I want to run through some of the things that have been floating around the league regarding the Jaguars draft plan.
According to Peter King at ProfootballTalk, the Jags aren’t looking to add a QB in the first round. They plan to give Gardner Minshew a real shot at becoming the long term answer.
Next, from Albert Breer’s MMQB last week:
“A player teams like more than the general public knows: Auburn DT Derrick Brown. He’s a very clean prospect with a high floor, and a lot of teams’ decision-makers would be surprised if he makes it past the Panthers at No. 7. I’d put the Jaguars down as another team that’s been connected to him, so much so that Jacksonville may get aggressive in trying to trade down if he’s gone when they pick at No. 9, to be better position to get a receiver or corner.”Albert Breer
E_dilla, one of the more connected Jags insiders and co-host of the Jaguars centric Bold Take Podcast, further supports the Jags looking to trade down.
Finally, Caldwell and Marrone seem to be higher on the team’s cornerback depth than most on the outside are.
Want to see how the rest of the division is stacking up? Check out the latest on the Titans, Colts, and Texans.
Jaguars Draft Strategy
With so many holes to fill on this team, there are a few possible routes the Jags could go. I want to point out a few things about this draft class first:
- This draft is extremely deep at WR, OT, and RB.
- After Jeff Okudah and C.J. Henderson there is a steep drop off at corner.
- Defensive line is the same as corner. Once Chase Young, Derrick Brown, and Javon Kinlaw are gone the prospects drop down two tiers talent wise.
Note before reading – I used the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator to simulate the draft and I only handled the Jaguars draft picks. Additionally, I focused on the first three rounds of the draft as those are where the majority of the 1st year contributors are typically.
Scenario #1: Stand pat at #9
9th Overall – CB C.J. Henderson, Florida
20th Overall – OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
42nd Overall – WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
73rd Overall – DE Jabari Zuniga, Florida
116th Overall – RB A.J. Dillon, Boston College
With Brown going to the Panthers at pick 7 the Jaguars draft C.J. Henderson out of Florida. Some scouts have him as a better prospect than Okudah and should be a shutdown corner for years to come.
Getting Becton at 20th overall would be a steal and allow Cam Robinson to move inside to LG. At 6’7″ and 364 lbs, Becton should provide Minshew with plenty of protection on his blindside.
Zuniga flashed immense potential at Florida and with the right coaching could be a force getting after the QB. He should be a force getting after the QB from the inside and has the ability to kick out to the EDGE as well.
Tee Higgins excelled at Clemson, who have had a knack for developing receivers in recent years (DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Mike Williams). Pairing him opposite DJ Chark will be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Fournette is entering a contract year and according to Adam Schefter is on the trade block. Dillon dominated at the college level and has been marked by some as Derrick Henry lite. He would give them a replacement while not dropping off too far production and talent wise.
Scenario #2: Trade Down
With Brown and Henderson off the board at pick 9 the Jags moved down 6 spots in the first and gave up one of their 3 fourth round picks while gaining 2 additional third rounders.
Jaguars Receive: 15th overall, 77th overall, 95th overall
Raiders Receive: 9th overall, 116th overall
15th Overall – OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
20th Overall – WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
42nd Overall – CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah
73rd Overall – WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
77th Overall – C Matt Hennessy, Temple
95th Overall – RB Cam Akers, Florida State
Becton is the best tackle on the board and solidifies two positions on the line as I mentioned above. Hennessy also has the potential to start this year wherever he ends up and would give the Jags depth at OL that they haven’t had in years.
With the line taken care of, doubling down at receiver gives Minshew more than enough weapons. Mims’ virtually has no ceiling and running a 4.38 40 yard dash at 6’3″ has scouts reminiscent of Tampa Bay’s ascendant receiver Chris Godwin. Shenault is ranked as high as the 8th best receiver in this draft, and would be a steal in the third round.
Jaylon Johnson would give the secondary an instant boost and allow Melvin and Herndon to rotate between the boundary and slot.
Like the Dillon pick in the previous mock, the Jags would be smart to look for Fournette’s potential replacement now. Akers is a potential three-down back who dominated at FSU despite running behind one of the worst lines in the country. Every time he touched the ball you could see the talent oozing out of him (this coming from a Miami Hurricanes fan). He would be able to step in day 1 to contribute and be a workhorse back by his second year if Fournette leaves.
If the draft falls the right way the Jags should be able to snag a future All-Pro with their first pick. If not, they are almost certain to trade down and gain some additional assets. With 12 picks at minimum, the Jaguars draft return should be substantial in helping the team this year and for years to come.
After living in Jacksonville for the past 11 years I’m excited to be covering this team and bring you all the latest news and analysis. Be sure to follow me on Twitter to be up-to-date on all the latest Jags and Time Skew content!