The Jacksonville Jaguars are one of the stranger teams in the NFL. Just two seasons ago, they were playing in the AFC Championship game. Now, they’re picking in the top-10 for the second year in a row. They chose to pay Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles $88 million over four years, then traded him away after a single season. They have Gardner Minshew set as the starting quarterback, but how much faith do they have in him to be the franchise guy?
The Jaguars have two first-rounders this year, and 12 selections overall. This draft class will be a big determining factor for the success of the franchise over the next five years. The below updated Jaguars 7-round mock draft attempts to address their many needs and lay a strong foundation for their future.
Round 1, Pick 9: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
This may seem a little high for C.J. Henderson, but cornerback is the Jaguars’ biggest need after they traded away both starting cornerbacks in the last six months. Henderson has elite coverage abilities, and could easily develop into one of the leagues top cover men. He’s an elite athlete and possesses the requisite size to play on the boundary in the NFL. There are some concerns about his motor, specifically in run defense, but if his talent is that of a true shutdown cornerback, it shouldn’t make much of a difference.
I know most Jaguars fans want a player like Derrick Brown here, but there’s a very low possibility he’s available at their pick. Javon Kinlaw should also garner consideration, as he too is a game wrecker. However, there are some concerns about arthritis in his knees. If Henderson can develop into even 75 percent of the cornerback Jalen Ramsey was for the Jaguars, then this pick is more than worth it. Expect Henderson to be the Day 1 CB1, as the Jaguars’ roster is sorely lacking talent in the cornerback room — a strong pick to start the next era of Jaguars football.
Round 1, Pick 20: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The draft stock of Andrew Thomas has taken a strange turn over the past few months. He was at one point viewed as the top offensive tackle in the NFL Draft, and now people are saying he’s likely to be, at best, the fourth offensive tackle selected. This is excellent news for the Jaguars, as Cam Robinson had a down year last year. While I believe Robinson can be a serviceable NFL player, when you have a chance to upgrade a premium position, you take it.
I debated trading up for a wide receiver, since I took a cornerback with the 9th pick, but the receiver class is incredibly deep, and I don’t actually subscribe to the idea that receiver is among the Jaguars’ biggest needs with DJ Chark being a bonafide number one, and DeDe Westbrook being a spark plug out of the slot.
Thomas is as consistent as they come. He’s a strong pass protector and a high-motor run blocker. I believe people are looking over the player Thomas already is, for the player guys liek Mekhi Becton and Isaiah Wilson can become. Thomas has arguably the highest floor in the class, and I believe he has a very good chance to be a Top 8-15 left tackle in the NFL for the majority of his career. This is as good a pick as the Jaguars can hope for at pick #20.
Round 2, Pick 42: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Grant Delpit’s stock has taken a nose-dive as of late. Early in the season, some, including myself, viewed him as a Top-10 player. He’s a coverage chess piece, as he can cover multiple positions in man coverage effectively, and his strong instincts and high football IQ make him comfortable in zone coverage. He has some tackling concerns and lacks elite athletic ability, which is likely why his stock is dropping, but he’s still a first-round player for me.
The tackling concerns are very real, but they’re not for a lack of effort. Luckily, the Jaguars already have one of the better run defending safeties in football in Ronnie Harrison. Adding Delpit as the coverage specialist, the duo could develop into one of the best in football. Delpit and Harrison both bring size and athletic ability, and the upside of the duo is tremendous. With Henderson and Delpit, the Jaguars have rebuilt their secondary from the ashes of the lockdown defense that took them to an AFC Championship game.
Round 3, Pick 73: Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe a receiver is as big a need for the Jaguars as others do. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t think they should take one if the value and the fit is right. I think they’re in need of a sure-handed, bigger receiver that they can go to on crucial downs like 3rd and 5, where they desperately need to move the chains.
DJ Chark has proven to be a weapon, but he still lacks refinement and is one of the better deep threats in the NFL. Finding a receiver with sure hands, who runs quality routes and can win in the short to intermediate range could be huge. Thankfully, Bryan Edwards was still on the board when we got to pick #76.
Edwards isn’t an elite athlete, but he has enough juice to be a starting receiver in the NFL. He has excellent hands and is a technician as a route runner. He’s also a tough runner thanks to his big frame, and his abilities are a perfect complement to that of Chark and Westbrook. Edwards has 100-catch potential in the NFL.
Round 4, Pick 116: Davon Hamilton, DL, Ohio State
One of my favorite players in the class, Davon Hamilton would be an instant contributor for the Jaguars’ defense. Taven Bryan had an improved season last year, but still has yet to provide a substantial pass rush boost. Hamilton instantly helps here, as he’s one of the better pocket pushers in the class. Personally, I think Hamilton has the best hand usage of any interior pass rusher, and has 8 to 10-sack upside in the right scheme.
Hamilton also has the size and athletic ability to be position versatile, which the Jaguars love on their defensive line. His presence would improve the quality of life for Bryan and 2019 first-round pick Josh Allen. Rebuilding the defense from the ground up, the Jaguars started with the secondary, and now they get an instant contributor in the trenches.
Round 4, Pick 137: Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State
While Leonard Fournette had a strong bounce-back year last season, he’s still limited in his abilities as a running back. He’s a thumper, and a bruiser. He wins by wearing the defense down snap after snap, yard after yard. However, he’s limited as a receiver, and isn’t likely to break off a long run, as he has only has six rushes over 50 yards with over 650 rushing attempts in his career. Adding a change-of-pace back who can also double as a threat on 3rd down would be wise of Jacksonville.
Darrynton Evans was ultra-productive at Appalachian State, as he rushed for nearly 3,000 yards, despite only being the starter for two seasons. Evans also functioned as a capable receiver out of the backfield, having over 20 receptions his final season and scoring on five of them. With a 4.41 40-yard dash time, Evans provides the game-breaking ability Fournette lacks, and if the Jaguars decide to move on from Fournette when his contract is up, Evans can fill in as the new lead back.
Round 4, Pick 140: Jonah Jackson, iOL, Ohio State
Another one of my personal favorite players in the class, Jonah Jackson is an absolute mauler. His bread and butter is taking the man in front of him, and taking him to the ground. His functional play strength is excellent, and his technique is rock solid. However, he possesses below-average athletic ability, and that severely limits his ceiling in the NFL. I think we can all agree that the Andrew Norwell experiment has failed, and drafting his future replacement would not be a bad move, especially if it’s a player of Jackson’s caliber.
Round 5, Pick 157: Kindle Vildor, CB, Georgia Southern
Another piece to the secondary, this time from an FCS school. Kindle Vildor isn’t going to wow you with his athletic ability or size, but don’t tell him that. He plays like there’s no one better than him. He’s always chirping and getting under the skin of opposing receivers. When he played LSU, he drew the task of covering future NFL receivers, and he didn’t back down. He performed admirably. Vildor could develop into a very strong CB2 or a starting nickel cornerback. Regardless of where he lines up, expect the entire defense to feed off his energy. I’m a big fan of the prospect of pairing Vildor with Henderson, as I believe their personalities could get the best out of each other.
Round 5, Pick 165: Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii
Currently, the Jaguars only have two quarterbacks on the roster. For some teams, this would be okay, but not if those two quarterbacks are Gardner Minshew and Joshua Dobbs. Adding a high-upside quarterback on Day 3 like Cole McDonald would be wise. This way, if halfway through the season, they recognize that Minshew isn’t the quarterback of the future, they can let McDonald show what he’s got. Worst-case scenario, you have a high-upside backup that could develop into something. Best-case, you find a diamond in the rough in the fifth round with elite physical traits.
Round 6, Pick 189: Raequan Williams, DL, Michigan State
Adding some additional depth to the defensive line, Raequan Williams is best suited to play the 1-tech, but could play the 3-tech in a heavier set. The Jaguars also have four defensive tackle contracts expiring in the next two seasons. Having Williams on the team would provide a cheap replacement and quality depth.
Round 6, Pick 206: Stephen Sullivan, TE, LSU
The Jaguars signed former Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert and have 2019 draft pick Josh Oliver returning from injury. However, putting faith in players with injury histories isn’t always wise. Stephen Sullivan has massive upside for the tight end position, but a lack of collegiate production, and some character concerns could force him to drop in the draft. He’s more a big slot than a tight end, but Jay Gruden found great success with Jordan Reed in Washington — when Reed was healthy, that is. I envision a role similar to Reed for Sullivan.
Round 7 Pick 223: Calvin Throckmorton, OL, Oregon
Calvin Throckmorton has played tackle, guard, and center in his career. He has a solid fundamental understanding of how to play every position, though he lacks good athleticism and core strength. However, someone who can play every position on the offensive line is always a strong piece to have.