Allen Robinson ran a hard out-route and caught the first ball of 2017, giving the Jacksonville Jaguars a first down after a 17-yard pickup. It turned out to be one of the worst first downs in Jaguars history, as he had torn his ACL. It was also the last catch Robinson had with the team, signing with the Chicago Bears the following offseason.
Most Jaguars fans were heartbroken. After so many years of despair, to see one of the best offensive players go down like that- it hurt. Alas, behind a dominant defense and the best ranked running game in the NFL, the Jaguars were able to get further than thought. They made it all the way to the AFC Championship game for the first time since 1999. Not only that, but they almost won.
It all came down to the last offensive play by the Jaguars. After driving into Patriots territory, Blake Bortles faced a game-deciding fourth down. He received the snap, dropped back, stepped into the pocket, and delivered an absolutely beautiful pass headed towards Dede Westbrook.
However, as we all know, Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore made an acrobatic play when he batted it down. And just like that, the surreal season was over.
It’s hard not to get emotional while watching Blake Bortles with tears down his cheek and Leonard Fournette pouring it out on the bench. Everyone in the Jaguars organization felt the pain. But it is part of the growing process. Failure is necessary to achieve success.
As the sorrow evaporated, many began questioning what the Jaguars could have done to win the game. Lots of things come to mind, such as the referees, the lack of Corey Grant in the second half, or the defense allowing 14 points in the last nine minutes of the game.
But let’s be honest. As spectators, we can’t change what happened. We can only look to that last play. That’s when I realized how much we could have used Allen Robinson on that play. Robinson would have caught that over Gilmore (He did it multiple times when he faced Gilmore in 2015). But, it is what it is. It’s not good to dwell on the past, so I am looking to the future. We will get a pretty good glimpse of the future later this month, when the NFL Draft arrives.
With that in mind, let’s check out which receivers in this year’s draft are the best options to replace what the Jaguars didn’t have on that last play; a lengthy receiver who can make contested grabs at the highest point. Specific factors such as height (minimum 6’1), draft stock (making sure the Jaguars have a shot at him), and vertical leap went into determining this list of the best fits for the Jaguars. For example, don’t expect to see Calvin Ridley, who is projected to go in the top 15. Nor someone like Christian Kirk or D.J. Moore, who are 5’11 and 6’0, respectively.
Here are the top 3 receivers that can best fill the void left by Allen Robinson:
Simmie Cobbs, Indiana,
Stats: 72 catches, 842 yards, 8 TD
Comparison: Vincent Jackson
At 6’3, Cobbs is a true alpha while he’s out on the field. He proved to be dominant regardless of the competition, such when he faced the top ranked Ohio State defense. Cobbs absolutely torched Ohio State, catching 11 passes for 149 yards. He also caught a touchdown, which was probably the most impressive aspect of the game because of who he out-muscled for the catch.
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While being covered very well by guaranteed first round pick Denzel Ward, Cobbs caught a 50-50 ball in the end zone. It was an extremely impressive game. The reason his draft stock may not be as high as it should be, could be for a few reasons.
- Lack of Production – He only averaged 11.6 yards per catch, and only generated 842 yards (which is not a lot in today’s college football).
- His speed – He ran his 40 yard dash in a “slow” 4.64 seconds, (Cobbs is more of a possession receiver so I really don’t see that as too big of a concern).
- His leaping ability – Cobbs didn’t jump very well, with his vertical jump being only 30.0 inches. While this may be a concern to teams, his height, along with his college tape full of acrobatic catches, should guarantee Cobbs to be a mid round pick in this draft. He will become a solid starting receiver in the NFL.
Round in which he should be drafted: Late 3rd Round – Mid 6th Round
J’Mon Moore, Missouri
65 catches, 1,082 yards, 10 TD
Comparison: Dez Bryant
In a few years, we will look back and say that J’Mon Moore was one of the most overlooked prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. After finishing 2017 with an outstanding season in the SEC, you would think that he would be gaining more buzz.
Surprisingly though, he is not. Standing at an impressive 6’3, he uses his size to his advantage. Moore ran the 40 yard dash in 4.6 seconds at the NFL Combine, so I can see that being a knock to his game, but managed to drop that 40 time to 4.4 at his pro day. Moore showed throughout college that he can outrun defensive backs with ease. He catches the ball well, and has one of the longest strides in football. If the Jaguars are able to nab Moore in the 2nd round, consider it a successful pick.
Round in which he should be drafted: Mid 2nd Round – Mid 4th Round
Courtland Sutton, Southern Methodist University
Stats: 68 catches, 1,085 yards, 12 TD
Comparison: Demaryius Thomas
Playing against weaker competition, Sutton did what any player of his caliber had to do: Dominate.
Along with having really good hands, he is also a very polished route runner. He’s a very gritty, tough receiver who can take hits and hold on to the ball. As a bonus, Sutton has demonstrated leadership qualities such as being named a captain for his last season.
Sutton reminds me a lot of Demaryius Thomas with the way he muscles the ball away from defensive backs. I wouldn’t be mad if the Jaguars selected him with the 29th overall pick. He’s truly the best option in the draft to replace Allen Robinson.
Round in which he should be drafted: Mid 1st Round – Early 2nd Round
Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame), Allen Lazard (Iowa State), Justin Watson (Pennsylvania), Javon Wins (Georgia), Marcell Ateman (Oklahoma State)