New quarterback Nick Foles is ready to take over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The franchise can utilize the 2019 NFL Draft to build a contender for years to come.
The Jaguars had a disappointing 2018 season after reaching the AFC championship game just a season before. The offense under QB Blake Bortles sputtered all season long due to poor play and injuries to key players. After Bortles and the Jaguars lost seven straight, the front office decided to part ways with the former first-round pick.
Foles is an instant upgrade over Bortles. However, throughout his career, Foles has shown he needs to be surrounded with weapons to truly excel in an offense and lead a team to consistent victory. The Jacksonville Jaguars have seven picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, including five of those seven within the first half of the draft. Additionally, a healthy Leonard Fournette and a solid defense Jacksonville should aid Foles in his first season under center in Jacksonville. The team can now focus on surrounding him with offensive playmakers.
Picking early in the first four rounds should prove advantageous for the Jaguars. I ran a draft simulation through Fanspeak and gave Jacksonville what I believe is an excellent start for the makeover of the offense.
Team Needs: OT, EDGE, TE, DL, G, QB, WR, C, S
Round 1, Pick 7: Jonah Williams | OT | Alabama
The most underrated area on a football team the trenches. The offensive and defensive line can make or break a team in the NFL, and Jacksonville needs some help in the offensive trenches. Enter Jonah Williams, the three-year starter from Alabama.
A technically refined tackle from the storied Saban dynasty, Williams should be a day one NFL starter for a team. Seeing some of the best pass rushers college football could throw at him, Williams has been tested by the best throughout his career in the SEC and will make an early impact for Jacksonville’s front five.
Round 2, Pick 6: T.J. Hockenson | TE | Iowa
Iowa has two fantastic tight ends in the 2019 NFL Draft in Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson. This is terrific news for the Jaguars. It has been a while since the team has had a steady contribution from the TE position. Hockenson has just about everything you want at the position besides not being an out of this world athlete.
A pro-ready prospect Hockenson can stretch the field and beat defensive backs in coverage. Although not asked to block often, when he does, he shows exceptional talent in footwork and protection and hardly ever needs assistance in one-on-ones. Projected to go in the first round of the draft this is quite the value for a player who should make an immediate impact for the team.
Some may question whether or not Hockenson will be available at this point in the draft, but between the quarterbacks expected to go early on, the incredible defensive talent and the depth of the offensive line class in the draft one could see Hockenson falling through the cracks to Jacksonville early in the second round. Some big boards have fellow TE Fant ranked higher than Hockenson, and in the simulation, so it will depend on how the picks fall but Hockenson to the Jaguars in the second round is not as far-fetched as you would think.
Round 3, Pick 5: Amani Oruwariye | CB | Penn State
I like to draft the best player available, while also paying attention to team needs, in the third round of my mock drafts. For Jacksonville, I decided to give the secondary some depth by drafting cornerback Amani Oruwariye out of Penn State.
Oruwariye’s length, strength, size, speed and ball skills make him a scheme-versatile defender. He excels at finding the football whether it be in front of him or over the shoulder. During his time at Penn State, he intercepted eight passes and had 18 passes defended. His skilled combined with learning from one of the best defensive backs in the NFL in Jalen Ramsey makes Oruwariye a solid pick for the continued dominance of the Jaguars defense.
Round 3, Pick 34: Christian Miller | EDGE | Alabama
Another upgrade for the defense in the third round. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency which means Jacksonville is going to ask more of defensive end Calais Campbell in pass-rush. Christian Miller from Alabama would be a solid depth rusher to give Campbell some assistance.
Sitting on the bench for his first three years in Tuscaloosa, Miller started in 2017 as a redshirt junior. He suffered a torn bicep in the season opener of the 2017 season against Florida State and missed the next 10 games.
Miller bounced back in 2018 with excellent play on the line. He shows terrific hand usage, high physicality and a diverse pass rush plan which offsets his lack of elite athleticism. He will be a reliable and productive rotational player on an NFL defensive line after posting 8.5 sacks during his final season.
Round 4, Pick 7: Terry McLaurin | WR| Ohio State
The final pick of Jacksonville’s four on day two of the 2019 NFL draft and it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Who is QB Nick Foles passing to? None of the Jaguars receivers broke 750 yards last season. Donte Moncrief has signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
That leaves Jacksonville with two receivers who logged some meaningful snaps: Dede Westbrook, who had somewhat of a breakout season, and Keelan Cole. Marqise Lee is returning from a torn ACL so the Jaguars need someone who can come in and make consistent contributions to the passing game. With all of this in mind, I drafted Terry McLaurin from Ohio State.
McLaurin had the second most receiving touchdowns for the Buckeyes offense in 2018 with 11 and can be a solid secondary option for QB Foles in the Jaguars offense. He has speed, can easily find separation and has terrific route running abilities.
Round 6, Pick 5: Dru Samia | G | Oklahoma
Continuing the theme of building the offense, in the sixth round I selected senior guard Dru Samia from Oklahoma. A four-year starter for the Sooners, Samia played RT as a true freshman then moved to guard for his final three seasons.
He’s one of the smallest guards in this year’s draft class but that never really seemed to be an issue in regards to his play. He proved to be a solid zone-blocker and uses his explosiveness to find the point of leverage and surprise his opponents. Not someone who can come in and dominate day one but should become a quality starter in a couple of years.
Round 7, Pick 22: Jordan Ta’amu | QB | Ole Miss
Did you read my Houston Texans mock draft? If so then this looks familiar, but the value of this pick is too high in my opinion. This would be an insurance check for the Jacksonville Jaguars. They just pulled up the Brinks truck for Nick Foles, and in my opinion, he’s rightfully deserved based on his run to a victory in Super Bowl LII and playoff push/run this past season. However, what happens if the offense goes the way of his stops in Kansas City and St. Louis and not so much the success of Philadelphia?
Ta’amu had a good season throwing for just under 4,000 yards and 19 touchdowns. He did throw eight interceptions, but four of those came in his games against Alabama, LSU, and Mississippi State. He is accurate to all levels of the field in a clean pocket. Ta’amu also has the sound mechanics of a starting quarterback in the NFL. However, he is not ready to start immediately and if all goes well, he won’t.
Best case scenario the Nick Foles gamble pans out, and Jacksonville can develop Ta’amu into the QB of the future. Worst case scenario the Jaguars let Foles go one year, and, if it doesn’t go as planned, they can have Ta’amu as a secondary option. In either case, the skill set Ta’amu can provide for an NFL team at this point in the draft is astronomical in my opinion.