After trading away many of the pieces that helped take the Jacksonville Jaguars to the AFC Championship in 2017, the franchise headed into the 2020 NFL Draft in full rebuild mode. With the defense that once earned the Jaguars the nickname “Sacksonville” largely disbanded; the emphasis was very much on upgrading that unit, especially the secondary. They also needed to provide some additional firepower for maverick quarterback Gardner Minshew. What grades did the Jaguars 2020 NFL Draft receive, and did they succeed in meeting all their needs?
Who did the Jacksonville Jaguars draft?
- Round 1, Pick 9: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
- Round 1, Pick 20: K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, LSU
- Round 2, Pick 42: Laviska Shenault Jr, WR, Colorado
- Round 3, Pick 73: Davon Hamilton, DT, Ohio State
- Round 4, Pick 116: Ben Bartch, OT, St. John’s Minnesota
- Round 4, Pick 137: Josiah Scott, CB, Michigan State
- Round 4, Pick 140: Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami
- Round 5, Pick 157: Daniel Thomas, S, Auburn
- Round 5, Pick 165: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
- Round 6, Pick 189: Jake Luton, QB, Oregon State
- Round 6, Pick 206: Tyler Davis, TE, Georgia Tech
- Round 7, Pick 223: Chris Claybrooks, CB, Memphis
Best Player: K’Lavon Chaisson
After trading away Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye over the last 12 months, drafting a cornerback was seen as Jacksonville’s primary need in the 2020 NFL Draft. At pick nine, they selected C.J. Henderson to fill that need, a player that had received some overly generous buzz as being the best cornerback available.
While there is no denying the talent of Henderson, the selection of K’Lavon Chaisson with the pick they received from the Los Angeles Rams in the Ramsey trade is the one that is truly most exciting for the Jaguars fans.
Once described by some inside LSU as the most explosive player in program history, Chaisson brings a loaded toolbox to a Jaguars defense that desperately needs to find an identity. He provides a pass rush threat, can play in coverage and is effective against the run, which will be particularly important for a Jaguars unit that gave up huge numbers of yards on the ground in 2019.
Chaisson not only brings athleticism and production on the field but a winning mentality and high character to a locker room desperately in need of both.
Best Value: Ben Bartch
A DIII tackle taken early in the fourth round of the draft may not scream “best value” in the Jaguars draft. However, Ben Bartch is no ordinary DIII tackle. The former tight end, relay runner, and shot put standout, has shown rapid growth at the position. He was impressive enough over two seasons at St. John’s to earn a Senior Bowl invite, which he parlayed into an NFL Combine invite.
With his stock rising, several scouts and analysts were adamant that Bartch wouldn’t make it past Day Two of the draft. Our own Tony Pauline had him listed as his 97th overall prospect, with a third-round grade.
At 116, Bartch represents good value
As such, Bartch represents good value at pick 116. With only two years of experience at the position, he has a tremendous capacity to improve his game and develop into a high caliber left tackle for the Jaguars. In the Jaguars’ initial post-draft depth chart via ESPN, they have Bartch listed as the third-string right guard and right tackle. He could see game experience inside before realizing his potential at his “natural” position.
With doubts over the Cam Robinson’s future, the Jaguars have found a potential replacement in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Biggest Reach: Shaquille Quarterman
The consensus was that this selection came two rounds too early for Shaquille Quarterman. Most analysts viewed him as a late third-day option, with NFL.com listing him as a fifth to sixth-round player. Pauline ranked him behind Cal’s Evan Weaver, South Carolina’s T.J. Brunson, and Temple’s Shaun Bradley as a sixth-round option.
The Jaguars clearly fell in love with Quarterman’s ability as an old school, downhill thumper type of linebacker. Given the porous nature of the Jaguars run defense in 2019, they also will love what he contributes on run defense.
Like the selection of Chaisson, Quarterman also brings a level of leadership to the field and locker room that will be invaluable to the Jaguars rebuild.
However, he lacks some of the coverage skills and athleticism that are a prerequisite for the modern-day linebacker. As such, he will project as a backup in the NFL, who may see the field only in obvious run situations.
Biggest Sleeper: Collin Johnson
Amongst many needs the Jaguars had to fill in the 2020 NFL Draft, the wide receiver position was one that needed to be addressed. Despite having former LSU standout D.J. Chark Jr. as a WR1 option, there were limited options for Minshew and Nick Foles to work with in 2019.
Jacksonville addressed the need early on, with the selection of the exciting talent, Laviska Shenault Jr., in the second round. Some 123 picks later, the Jaguars doubled down at the position with the selection of Collin Johnson from Texas.
Johnson doesn’t stand out from a statistical perspective. He never broke a 1000 yard season for the Longhorns, despite often being the favorite target of quarterback Sam Ehlinger. He doesn’t have game-changing speed, and his career has been beset with injuries.
Johson offers an intriguing skill set
That being said, Johnson offers an intriguing skill set that could prove to be a valuable weapon for Minshew. He has NFL size and length and is adept at using those assets combined with physicality to win contested catches. His size also makes him a dangerous red-zone threat, something the Jaguars sorely need after finishing in the bottom half of the league in 2019 for passing touchdowns.
Johnson has also proven he can perform on the big stage, with arguably his best performance for Texas coming in the 2018 BIG 12 Championship.
Even as a fifth-round pick, he comes into a wide receiver room that isn’t packed with starting-caliber talent, and that allows him to make an impact early on in his NFL career.
Draft Grade: B
The Jaguars are in full rebuild mode, with the franchise barely recognizable from the team that made it to the 2017 AFC Championship game. Their main aim from the 2020 NFL Draft was to get better on defense, and with the additions of Henderson and Chaisson in the first round, they made a good start. If we were handing out 2020 Draft grades after round one, the Jaguars would probably have had an A.
With Henderson, Josiah Scott, and Chris Claybrooks, they triple dipped at the cornerback position, one of their most significant needs coming into the draft. They also added Daniel Thomas to the secondary and attempted to upgrade the defensive front with Ohio State’s Davon Hamilton.
Jaguars draft was up and down
After hitting on the opening two selections, the Jaguars had a hit and miss approach the rest of the way out. There were several solid selections, including Johnson, Bartch, and Shenault Jr. Still, those were interspersed with several perceived reaches in the likes of Quarterman and Georgia Tech tight end Tyler Davis. Davis’ selection was particularly eye-opening with some more prominent names at the position still available.
The Jaguars receive a B grade for their 2020 NFL Draft haul.
It was a spectacular start to the draft that ended up as a solid haul. With the franchise in full rebuild mode, solid is a good start, but there is more work to be done if they are to return to the winning ways of just three years ago.